Let’s go back to talking about manga. To be specific, let’s talk about a fairly recent manga from Morinaga Milk. I’ve actually talked about her before when I did a manga review for Kuchibiru Tameiki Sakurairo. This time around I’ll be looking at Ohimesama no Himitsu, which had chapters published from late 2012 to early 2015. Is it as good as the last one I looked at? Let’s see. And yes, this would have normally gone up yesterday. Sorry, it slipped my mind.
Fujiwara Nagisa is seemingly distant and difficult to talk to. She’s a part of the volleyball team and highly admired at her school. One day, Nishie Miu, a student at the same school, finds her in the hallway where she’s accidentally broken the principal’s prized vase. Fujiwara asks her not to tell anyone, since she was skipping practice under false pretences and doesn’t want her team mates to find out. When Fujiwara says she’ll do anything, Miu asks her to go out with her under the pretence that it’ll be good date practice, but she quickly realises it’s a selfish request and apologises. Surprisingly, Fujiwara is okay with it and agrees. Yuri ensues.
The only thing that I can really criticise about the writing in this manga is that it could have used a bit more time to better develop the attraction between our leads.
That being said, there’s a lot I really adored about the story-telling. I like that the main obstacle to their romance is the pretence of dating for practice. I liked the overall romance arc. The way Miu’s mother reacts to the situation is superb. I won’t spoil it but it’s brilliant. There are also a lot of clever subversions to the manga. It briefly sets up the idea of a love triangle but resolves it without a bunch of mewling melodrama. The main source of dramatic tension is less over whether they’ll get together and more over how Miu’s propensity towards falsehoods will impact their relationship and affect her personally. Which I appreciate. I also do love how the “blackmail” aspect is handled. Miu thinks of herself as getting Fujiwara to date her through blackmail but Fujiwara sees it as an opportunity to have someone she can spend time with since her class mates are intimidated by her and never really thinks of it as blackmail.
Character writing is probably Morinaga’s greatest strength. She is stellar at writing characters who are complex, have verisimilitude and share really strong dynamics. And that strength is very well on display here. In spite of the short length, the characters act and speak in very natural ways. Even those side characters who show up very briefly feel real. With Miu & Fujiwara, she uses some inner monologues in text boxes to give us a lot of insight into their thoughts and feelings, which really serves to make us empathise with them. The way their dynamic develops is excellent.
I do rather like Morinaga’s art style. She draws faces really expressively and puts in a lot of nice little background details, for those panels that have backgrounds instead of various effects meant to illustrate the mood. In this manga, I actually like all the princess imagery that she employs to fit with the aesthetic.
Ohimesama no Himitsu is a damn good love story. While there are some aspects that could have been extrapolated on a bit better, the narrative was still excellent. The characters were outstanding and the artwork is superb. My final rating is going to stand at an enthusiastic 9.5/10. If you’re a fan of romance works, they don’t get much better than this. As for next month’s bonus review, I’ll try and get it out towards the middle of the month. Try and guess what kind of super hero thing it’ll be. (I’m joking because so many of these have been about super hero media.)