Meguro Mito has always been made fun of for her chubby appearance. Her sole happiness is discussing her favorite role-play game with her two best friends. One day, while she is being bullied, a handsome classmate saves her. Is this the beginning of her first love?
I began reading Kengai Princess on a whim, and at first I can say I was thoroughly enjoying it. I thought it was a really cute manga, however certain things have led me to drop it's overall score by a bit. That's mostly due to the complete change in tone the series took, which I'll talk about in this review.
Meguro Mito is (Correction to the synopsis) in her last year of middle school. At the beginning of the manga, she spends most her time obsessing over otome games with her friends, to make up for her lack luster love life.
Due to an unpleasant experience two years before, where she was made fun of for having a crush on a certain classmate, her self-confidence had taken quite a major hit. That was only made worse by the fact that whenever she passed that particular boy, him and his friends would enjoy calling her names and making fun of her appearance. One particular day, a boy named Kunimatsu sticks up for her, causing her to begin to develop feelings for him.
Reading the synopsis, I was a little skeptical about this manga, but it turned out a lot better than I thought it would. I believe that the biggest theme of this story was that; some effort really goes a long way. Due to her previous experience, Mito seemed to be too scared to do anything that would make her stick out, or that would upset anyone. As the story progresses, Mito realises that her life would not change for the better staying the way she is. She attempts to change, and while initially this may have been because of her interest in her classmate Kunimatsu, she begins to realises that there are so many fun experiences she could be a part of if she made an effort to reach out to her peers, and come out of her comfort zone. I thought that was a nice message.
Unfortunately, the story took a turn for the worse later on, but I'll get back to that later.
I think one of my favourite things about this manga was the character development seen in Mito. In the beginning, while she is introverted she also appeared to be spiteful towards those who were happier than she was, mostly due to the insecurities she had about herself. As the story progressed, Mito was able to gain confidence in herself, and learned how to stick up for herself. I found that really sweet to read about. Not the most original type of plot, but I like the way it was presented. It was also funny reading the little fantasies she came up with in her head, featuring her and Kunimatsu.
Then there was Kunimatsu. At first I thought he was the typical bishonen hero type person, but you begin to learn that that's not quite all true, and that he has his own little quirks. While I won't say he was the most original character to ever exist, he was fun to read about.
There was also Mito's friends, Haru and Maru, who share an interest in otome games. Mito struggles with maintaining her friendship as she tries to change herself for the better without leaving her friends behind.
Now I will talk about why my scores aren't that flattering. Up to chapter 22, I thought this was a very enjoyable series, and originally I may have given it an eight, however the characters and the story takes quite a different turn from chapters 23 and up. Chapter 1 to chapter 22 covers Mito's life in middle school, chapter 23 and up seem to be covering her high school life.
I found chapter 1-22 much more enjoyable. The characters were interesting, and all of them got a lot of character development, especially Mito. Reading about her struggles, and how she overcame her problems was fun. The tone of the story completely changed afterwards. It becomes focuses on Mito's 'High School Debut', introducing a number of boring cliche characters that we've all seen before. The hot playboy, the nice one, the shy girl, it was cliche after cliche. It was no longer about learning to appreciate yourself, or creating new memories, and I really dislike that so far. Even Mito seemed to have changed to a shoujo type protaganist we've all seen before. All the other characters were pretty much discarded, and that really irked me.
My advice would to just read up to chapter 22. Chapter 23 and up feels like it was written by a completely different person, I had to check to see if it was the same mangaka and was a little surprised when I saw it was.
I found the art great. One of my favourite things was probably Mito's exagerated facial expressions. I don't think there's much to say about it, other than that it looks really funny where it's supposed to be funny, and really beautiful at the points where it should be.
Overall Enjoyment: 5
While chapter 1-22 would probably have my overall enjoyment at an 8, the latest chapters I have found extremely dissapointing, and I don't think I'll be following this manga for much longer.
Once again, I think I'd advise most people to read chapter 1-22 ONLY. From 23 up, it's only a major dissapointment.