Manga-ka: Yun Kouga
Publisher: Viz Media
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Release Date: November 2010
Synopsis: “Rima begins to question her feelings for Ikeshiba after the night he kissed her. Finding herself shocked that it wasn’t what she imagined it would be like, her thoughts turn to Hisayoshi. But Hisayoshi, frustrated with Rima’s constant rejection, has gone missing. Will his absence finally make Rima realize how much he means to her?!”
Crown of Love is a shojo manga about an ordinary teenager who decides to become a superstar in order to impress a certain someone. In this past month alone I’ve read two manga with the very same plot (Honey Hunt & Skip Beat) but while those series manage do something new and different with the idea, Crown of Love plays it straight, delivering a clichéd story with very few surprises.
From volume one, Kumi has been in love with Rima, a popular pop-star his age. He falls for her so hard that he decides to become a pop-star himself in order to be worthy of her attention. While the two have gotten to know each other through working together, their relationship itself has been frustratingly inert. Even more frustrating, there’s been very little character development as well. Rima is still aloof and Kumi still acts like a mix between a lost puppy and a creepy stalker. In this volume Kumi finally grows a spin and gives Rima an ultimatum: if she really hates him, he will leave her alone forever. But if she loves him, now is the time to admit it.
It’s nice to see some actual drama in this series, especially when it comes from the characters’ actions and not some outside force. However, there’s still a lot of nothing crammed into this book: pages of the teenage characters ruminating on love, characters rehashing old conversations and dreams. There’s long stretches where nothing of real importance happens. That could be forgivable if the characters were people worth spending time with, but they’re not. Both of the main characters are vague and shallow, and the memorable traits that they do have aren’t good ones: Rima is whiny and temperamental while Kumi has all the personality of a houseplant. The best thing I can say for them is that with their self-centered, vacillating natures they’re like a lot of typical teenagers, though I really doubt that’s what the manga-ka was going for.
Like the story, the art is mediocre. The character designs aren’t bad, but they’re bland. Yun Kouga also seems to have trouble keeping them consistent, with Kumi looking different ages throughout the book. Now and then a background makes an appearance but for the most part the characters live in a void, a white space filled with a chair here or there so they can sit down.
It’s hard to hate Crown of Love since there’s so little in it that actually inspires any emotions, good or bad. It’s an easy enough manga to while away the time with, but when there’s so many better, similar offerings out there (like the previously mentioned Skip Beat and Honey Hunt) it’s hard to recommend this one.