The Hentai Prince and the Stony Cat, Vol. 1

By Sou Sagara and Okomeken. Released in Japan as “Hentai Ouji to Warawanai Neko” by Media Factory, serialization ongoing in the magazine Comic Alive. Released in North America by Digital Manga Publishing.

I must admit I was rather surprised to see a title from Comic Alive licensed by someone other than Seven Seas, and had to double check to make sure that this wasn’t BL-related in some way. (Not that Comic Alive would go anywhere near BL.) But no, DMP is dipping their toe in this market, and doing so with a title that seems a bit more low-key than what we’ve seen from other Comic Alive titles released in North America lately, even if it does have the same basic storyline and outlook.

The story stars Yoto, a typical teenage boy who spends most of his days trying to look at girls’ panties (OK, a typical Japanese teenage boy). He’s very good at denying he’s doing anything wrong, and fate seems to love him, as whenever he’s caught perving it gets mistaken for him doing something noble. He’s still bothered by this, however, being a decent pervert at heart, and wishes he could be more honest. Then he hears about a cat statue that grants wishes, and it seems to work nicely on his best friend. So he goes to visit it, and promptly runs into an embarrassed, panicky girl who also wants to wish on the cat statue – she wants to make it so her feelings aren’t so visible. Unfortunately, they both get their wishes – he now can’t tell a lie at all, even to save his getting beaten up, and she’s a perfect stoic on the outside, no matter what she may be feeling.

Wackiness, as they say, ensues. As you can see by my taking a paragraph to write out the plot, there’s not much to this. The two leads quickly realize how horrific this has become, but of course they can’t take their wishes back so easily. And things are livened up by your typical moe manga archetypes in the supporting cast. Yoto and Tsukiko are already cliched types (heck, Tsukiko manages to be two in one, as we see her both as the stressed out over-emotional girl *and* the stoic), and they’re joined by a busty track star who’s queen of the school and a blonde tsundere princess who finds her match in Yoto’s new blunt and straightforward persona. A light-hearted harem manga ensues.

I have not been all that fond of Comic Alive titles recently. I Don’t Like You At All, Big Brother! and Haganai both tended to irritate more than amuse me, mostly because I prefer my moe to be relaxed and soft rather than hyperactive and angry. But this wasn’t quite as bad as those two. The lead was just a shade more sympathetic, the tsundere had a bit more dimension to her, the plot invited antics while still being interesting. Yes, there’s still lots of talk of breasts and panties, and the plot is a simple ‘role reversal’ type thing we’ve seen before in, say, Your and My Secret, but this ended up being OK. I’d recommend it, but DMP hasn’t put Volume 2 on their upcoming list for 2013 (after they return from print hiatus), meaning we won’t see a new volume, if we do at all, for over a year. Thus, I can’t actually recommend it that much. But it’s not too bad.

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