Manga-ka: Nao Kodaka
Writer: Rika Tanaka
Released: August 2007
Synopsis: “When a giant wave washes Kilala and Rei into the sea, they discover the magical world of the Little Mermaid under the sea. Kilala wishes she could enjoy and swimming with Ariel and the other mermaids, but she’s worried – the sea is a vast place, and Rei has suddenly disappeared. This latest volume of the hit series is filled with the most enchanting Disney princesses and packed with tons of magic!”
The drama heats up volume three of Kilala Princess. Kilala’s best friend Erica is acting strangely and makes off with the tiara. Meanwhile, Rei is about to leave forever unless Kilala’s peril is enough to make him stay (naturally). A stormy boat ride leaves the two separated and Kilala finds herself in the care of Ariel under the sea but Rei’s nowhere in sight.
The plot takes a little break in this volume and it proceeds as more of a character drama. Kilala spends most of the book traversing the sea with Ariel, speaking of love new and old and regaining some self-confidence as she seeks out Rei and yearns to tell him how she truly feels (like any true shoujo heroine). One scene that stands out near the book’s beginning is a gun put to a young girl’s head. While it’s not a strange thing for most mainstream mangas, in one aimed at pre-teen girls, it couldn’t help but pop out.
While Kilala is shaping up to be a very stereotypical, yet strangely loveable, main character, Rei has begun his unfortunate spiral downwards from character to prop. For what little involvement he has here, it still feels like a far cry from the beginnings of a personality readers glimmered in the first volume as he flawlessly falls in love with Kilala and sidles down to join so many Disney princes as soulless perfect-boyfriends. Ariel herself feels about as deep as a shallow puddle and while a step far back from her movie debut, suits her current Disney incarnation exactly. Reviewer commentary regarding current character treatment by Disney will be withheld for space purposes. Her attitude is childish but is at least a hook for young girls who can no doubt relate.
The art is still super pretty and almost sickeningly cute. Ariel seems to be trying her hardest to stare directly into your soul. Artist commentary reveals that Kilala Princess is Nao Kodaka’s first manga, which is downright impressive, even for someone experienced in illustration for numerous years before hand. The panel work transitions smoothly and the art is all very professionally consistent.
Kilala Princess continues it’s whimsical hold on this reviewer and puts a little genuine childhood magic out in the market.