The Hentai Prince and the Stony Cat, Vol. 2

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 was a bit ‘meh’ about the first volume of Stony Cat, which I felt showed promise but also had several flaws. The second volume is for the most part better, even though it has many of the same flaws, because the flaws are starting to look like they’re built into the work as a whole. This is not a manga about easy fixes – its very premise shows off the dangers of trying to fix your personality quirks with mere wishes – and we delve deeper into that here, as Yoto’s attempt to cheer Azusa up fail on a spectacular level, partly due to his being unable to avoid telling the truth but mostly due to his misconception about how deep her issues run.

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There is a certain awkwardness that permeates the entire volume – indeed, the adaptation helps it along with some translation quirks that I’m not certain are deliberate. Azusa’s two old ‘friends’ from middle school, in the aftermath of the botched ‘date’, speak in a sort of stilted robotic tone, ending everything in ‘I did’ or ‘we did’. Indeed, everyone seems to talk a bit more formally in this series. It’s likely just a case of ‘how can I deal with this regional dialect’, but it helps to add an additional disconnect to what’s going on in the series.

Azusa is merely the most obvious example of someone whose ruined self-image is causing great pain in her life (even her mother, who seems to be one of those standard ditzy anime moms, is not really helping her). Tsukiko is pretty unhappy with Yuto’s plan, but of course can barely express it thanks to her wished-for stoicism (unlike Yuto, who is able to get his wish reversed halfway through this book, she’s still stuck with her face being the way it is.) Yuto himself is the typical well-meaning but overzealous teen guy, deciding that he knows how to fix things without really thinking about how they’ll affect the person he’s trying to fix. Getting his ability to lie back allows him to defuse things with Tsukiko’s sister (who turns out to be the “Iron King” track star we saw in Vol. 1), but I suspect his basic personality flaws will continue to plague him.

Aside from that, this series has most of what you’d expect from a harem romance based on a light novel that runs in Comic Alive. There’s lots of comedic violence, misunderstandings, some blatant nudity at the end of the book. The aforementioned Iron King gets to show off her physical prowess, but also shows off how little she understands the human brain (similar to the rest of the cast) when she accepts Yoto’s ‘that was my evil twin brother’ story at face value. Despite the added depth revealed in this volume, it’s still filled with flaws, and I wouldn’t recommend it except to those who like its genre to begin with. But for those people, there’s things to like here, or at least things to muse upon in the hope that future volumes will run with them further.

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