Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Creator: Mikiyo Tsuda (cartoonist); Earl Gertwagen (translation)
Publishing Information: DMP/Juné Manga; B&W paperback, 200pp, $12.95 U.S.
Ordering Numbers: ISBN 10: 1-56970-850-9; ISBN 13: 978-1-56970-850-7

Rated “YA” for “Young Adults 16+”

Princess Princess is a manga series from Mikiyo Tsuda that was collected in five volumes by Digital Manga Publishing’s imprint, Juné Manga. Princess Princess has characteristics of both shojo manga and the boys’ love subset, shounen-ai manga.

Princess Princess has shojo manga elements like teen romance and high school politics. There are some romantic moments between the male characters, but that is more shounen-ai than it is the explicit boys’ love subset, yaoi. The male cast can be described as being bishounen or “beautiful boys,” a term used to describe male characters that are androgynous or clearly feminized.

Princess Princess is set at Fujimori Academy. Every year, a few boys become “princesses.” These male students dress as girls for special events and cheer on athletic squads, warm hearts, keep up school spirit, etc. Basically, by appearing in drag, these already androgynous boys have “princess power.” This is ability to smile, look pretty, and speak in a magical falsetto voice, and it all makes everyone in the school feel happier. This year the princesses are Mikoto Yutaka and the nearly-inseparable pair, Tohru Kouno and Yuujirou Shihoudani.

In Princess Princess 5, it is election season at Fujimori, and the race for student council president has torn the princesses and the school apart. Tohru Kouno and Yuujirou Shihoudani are doing everything they can to help and support Akira Sakamoto, whose older brother is the great “Sakamoto-Sama,” a former student council president.

Meanwhile, Mikoto has sided with Toui C. Mitaka, an aloof and haughty transfer student. Tall with long blond-hair, Mitaka is ambitious and sees everyone and every position as a mere stepping stone on his way to future success as a businessman. Tohru and Yuujirou despise Mitaka, and the school is in turmoil, with everyone taking sides. The soft-hearted Akira, however, is determined to play peacemaker even if it costs him the election.

Digital Manga Publishing (DMP) eventually created an imprint for titles like Princess Princess, named “DokiDoki.” This new imprint was a place for titles for female readers that were somewhere between younger teen-oriented shojo manga and shounen-ai. In fact, DMP published the Princess Princess sequel, Princess Princess Plus, under DokiDoki.

Princess Princess 5 isn’t exactly boys’ love, although there is some romance between male students, both obvious and sublimated. What does that make Princess Princess? It’s like a comedy set at an all-girls school, except the girls are actually boys – some girlish, some effeminate, and some typically teen male.

I have to admit that I enjoy this kind of shojo/shounen-ai hybrid. There is something interesting about these boys getting along and working out their problems, even after all the fussing and fighting. This is simply an idealized and fantasy version of male-bonding that both women and men like (although the men might not admit it). In this volume, there is storyline that has Tohru accompanying Yuujirou home and helping Yuujirou work through some family issues. It exemplifies this series vibe of seeing male friendship through rose-tinted glasses.

Princess Princess 5 is good character drama and good boys’ something, and readers who like this sort of thing will certainly enjoy this.



Amazon wants me to inform you that the affiliate link below is a PAID AD, but I technically only get paid (eventually) if you click on the affiliate link below AND buy something(s).


  1. "igital Manga Publishing (DMP) eventually created an imprint for titles like Princess Princess, named “DokiDoki.” This new imprint was a place for titles for female readers that were somewhere between younger teen-oriented shojo manga and shounen-ai."

    Erm, no; DokiDoki is a co-branding operation with Shinshokan. It publishes titles from Shinshokan's shoujo magazine Wings and their BL magazine Dear+. It just so happens that Wings runs a lot of not-quite-BL shoujo stories like Princess Princess, but that's not the focus of DokiDoki; their books runs the gamut from plain vanilla shoujo to full-on BL.

  2. Erm, yes. During their press run-up to releasing their first DokiDoki titles, DMP described the imprint just as I described it in the line you quote.

    I have read DokiDoki titles that are boys' love including yaoi. So it doesn't matter where these titles originate from in Japan, DMP described DokiDoki as a bridge imprint, and as far as I can tell, intend it to be a bridge imprint.

  3. Apparently this comment form does not work with Camino. I had the very devil of a time trying to reply, and then it occurred to me that I had been using Safari this morning...

    I believe the phrase DMP used in the DokiDoki press relase was "the gateway from shojo to yaoi"; as I said, the imprint runs the gamut from one to the other. But more specifically, it's a Shinshokan co-branding operation; no Shinshokan titles will be published under other imprints (except for ongoing series that were already running, like Yuki Shimizu's Ze, which is put out under the 801 imprint), and no non-Shinshokan titles will be published as DokiDoki books. So the only thing you can be sure of with a DokiDoki title is that it came from either Wings or Dear+. It might be shoujo, it might be BL, it might be in-between; it might be teen-rated or 18+; but it will definitely be from Shinshokan. Because of the type of stuff that Wings publishes, it may *function* as a gateway imprint, but I sincerely doubt it was designed to do that (otherwise, why not include other publishers?); it's just a happy accident.

  4. I don't know why DMP would describe it one way or another, if DokiDoki really exists only to publish Shinshokan titles.

    However, in the future I will continue to describe it as a "bridge imprint," and if I remember, I might mention the Shinshokan connection in parenthesis. That should please many if not all interests. I don't want anyone saying, "I can't get no satisfaction at I Reads You."

  5. "I don't know why DMP would describe it one way or another, if DokiDoki really exists only to publish Shinshokan titles."

    Well, DMP's June and 801 lines have a more minor cobranding thing with Taiyoh Tosho and Oakla, where the Japanese publisher's imprint is placed on the spine. Shinshokan is one of their biggest sources, and has some of their more popular titles, so they get special treatment.

    I think the Japanese publishers are trying to raise their visibility here, and make it a little more like the Japanese market, (where you have to know who publishes a manga to even find it in a bookstore); alas for them, I think the US market could care less. Presumably DMP gets something out of this, even if just goodwill from their licensors.