Secret of the Princess

By Milk Morinaga. Released in Japan as “Ohime-sama no Himitsu” by Shinshokan, serialized in the magazine Hirari. Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Jennifer McKeon, Adapted by Shannon Fay.

Morinaga Milk’s books are simply nice. They’re sweet. They put a smile on your face. They are not the most original books in the world – in fact, they sometimes have so many cliches that they rack up a Yuri Trope Bingo before they’re halfway done – but they’re smooth reads, and you don’t have to worry about serious tragedy befalling anyone. There is angst in this volume, don’t get me wrong, but it’s the sort of book where one of the heroines threatening to kill herself by jumping off a roof is treated as a loving confession rather than an actual suicide attempt. If you try to attack too much reality to this, it begins to come apart, but that’s the point. It’s yuri fantasy.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. At an all-girls school, Fujiwara is the tall, athletic, cool, one-quarter Western beauty who all the girls admire. She’s also just accidentally destroyed the principal’s expensive vase. This is witnessed by Miu, a girly young first year whose mother has drilled into her that the secrets to catching a good husband. Of course, at an all-girls school, men are thin on the ground, so Miu has no idea how actual dating works. So, in exchange for her silence, she asks Fujiwara to pretend to date her so she can discover how this all works. Of course, she doesn’t consider the jealousy of her fellow students, or Fujiwara’s own loneliness and need for the social interactions that she gains with Miu, or, of course, her own growing and conflicting feelings.

Miu can be a weak part of this book – she’s a bit hard to take and frustrating, though she improves as the volume goes on. This is complete in one book, and a short book at that, so there’s not really much time to slowly develop anything. Fujiwara fares better, having a home life that seems to be mostly filled with maids (of course she lives in a rich mansion, have you read this genre before?) and her friend Hirosawa, who is also a short-haired beauty with a fan club but is second to Fujiwara. (The shoujo dynamic of the blond taking second place to the brunet lead seems to be reversed for Yuri titles.) Other than that, there’s not much to talk about – they date cute, break up when they start feeling guilty about the “falseness” of things, get back together dramatically, and end up in bed (though fleetingly – for the most part, this is pretty squeaky-clean.)

So it’s not mind-boggling, but it’s nice to see some sweet titles coming out here after a year of Citrus and Netsuzou Trap. And we have more from this author coming up next month as well. I suspect it will be sweet, fluffy, somewhat insubstantial, and yuri. Much as this is.