Professor Asahina isn't a very good teacher. Rumor has it that he spends his nights at love hotels with a different partner every night and he has been known to come to class drunk on occasion. When one of his students, Yuasa, finds a film of him having sex with an unknown lady in a love hotel, things get a little sticky. Yuasa promises to help Professor Asahina hunt down the tape and keep his secret safe, but for a price. Yuasa is known to associate with men and has had his eyes on Professor Asahina for a while.
Asahina-sensei is far from the ideal teacher - he comes to class drunk and sleeps around. But one time he chooses the wrong love hotel and is filmed "in the act". And now that video has come into the hands of his student, the extremely self-assured, good looking and rumoured to be gay Yuasa. Yuasa has been in love with his English teacher since the first day in class - when he sees a video of Asahina with a woman that shows the teacher unable to reach climax without having his backside played with, Yuasa suspects that Asahina may not be as insusceptible to trying
sex with a man as priorly expected. Yuasa sets out on a journey to win his love through black-mailed sex.
A new life on the other side of the alley of love unfolds for Asahina, the English teacher. He's enjoying the ride, but there's things nagging him ... like an urge to try sex with another man than Yuasa, for example the hottie Kagami, one of Yuasa's friends. And Yuasa finds out that his friend Nagai has been in love with him for a long time. There's many factors trying to destroy the fragile relationship that starts to grow between Yuasa and his teacher.
When you read the plot you may think you know how this story will unfold. But don't be too sure, because Takaido Akemi does not coddle her readers in safety. The title is also deceiving implying some sweet love story with a prince-like hero. Instead this three volume yaoi manga is best described as "slice of life". There's some comedy, there's also some bitter feelings coming up like jealousy or regret, and the story unfolds slowly at its own pace and takes a few unexpected turns.
This was a manga that seemed inconspicuous at first but kept me thinking about the plot and the characters even a while after I had read it. Considering the number of yaoi stories I read, that is quite an achievement - sometimes there are stories where I can barely remember what they were about two days after I'm finished with them. This was definitely different and stayed in my mind for a long while - maybe because it is a story that does not go down smoothly and caused me some "mental hick-ups". Or maybe because in a love square like that it is predestined that not everyone can have a pink-died happy end. Whatever the reason, I think Prince Charming is certainly a series which stands out. The characters are unique - especially as they are often not "nice". No goody-two-shoes here! If you like to get emotionally attached to a manga character, then "Prince Charming" with its cast of 4 main characters, offers a really good selection to choose from: you could fall for Asahina-sensei who is the epitome of an irresponsible teacher, for Yuasa who is the stand-in for all people who are so stupidly in love that they lose their brains but gain lots of endurance, or for the earnest, quiet, suffering and "deep" Nagai or for Kagami (my personal favourite) whose sluttiness is covering a longing for real love.
On the downside sometimes the characters are not real. The 3 gay friends are very mature for high school boys, Asahina is at the beginning such a horrible teacher that I doubt any school would employ him for long. And teacher and students look much the same age - apart from the way they dress.
Takaido Akemi's art is easily recognizable. At first I must admit that I did not like it much. Her profile views of faces are sometimes off, and she always seems to have a character with a horrible pot-like hairstyle in her stories. But her art has grown a lot on me and today I even like it - a lot sometimes. It definitely has its own merits and I will no longer argue her artistic capabilities. In fact I have learned to really appreciate it and really think that she deserves to be better known. Still, the art is not what makes Prince Charming an insider recommendation - it's the characters and the story. This is typical for underrated yaoi manga artist Takaido Akemi - whether you like her art or not - it's usually the outstanding characters and the stories she tells that draw you in.
The English translation (from Juné) bears an explicit content warning and is labeled "M" like for mature audiences of 18+. There is certainly some things going on here, but if you've been reading yaoi for a while you'll probably agree with me that it is not really explicit. But because of the debauched characters and because a few taboos get trampled along the way the story has a slightly perverted feeling to it even without especially explicit art. I'd say it is somewhere at the border between soft yaoi and average yaoi. There's a few sex scenes, mostly just outlines of the couple, once or twice the faintest hint of genitalia is visible.
(This review was written as a featured series spotlight for the Anti Girly Uke yaoi club, you are invited to come and join our club discussion on this manga!)