Ho hum, more schoolgirl yuri.
Miu Nishie is a high school girl obsessed with being cute and with finding her prince, having been raised from a young age by a mother’s whose constant refrain seems to have been, “You have to be cute because you’re a girl!”. Her chances, though, of finding a princely young man to hurry up and marry have been made remote by the fact that she opted for the all-girls’ high school her mother attended. But when she witnesses volleyball star Fujiwara breaking an expensive vase which belongs to the school, she seizes it as an opportunity, getting the other girl to agree to date her in exchange for her silence about the vase. This being a yuri title, of course, it isn’t too long before what is being passed off as “practice” begins to drift in directions neither girl anticipated.
It has taken me a while to work up to writing my review for Secret of the Princess because although there are some elements about it which I like, I feel a sense of weariness in reviewing yet another yuri school girl title. It’s also frankly disappointing that this is yet another title of Milk Morinaga’s which is subsequent to Girl Friends and doesn’t come anywhere close to that one’s heights and doesn’t really break any new ground. And, finally, where we seem to get some set-up for “gee, inculcating your kids with gender essentialism is a toxic way to raise them”, it never really goes anywhere, as the takeaway is instead that its ok for princesses to kiss princesses. This message isn’t necessarily a bad one, but that Miu’s mom is totally a-okay with her daughter dating a girl after flashbacks of her creepily telling a toddler that she has a duty to be attractive feels like it all took the easy off-ramp rather than engaging with something deeper. On the other hand, Miu is a step away from Morinaga’s usual types, as she’s a hell of a lot pricklier than previous heroines have ever been… which, well, that was a good touch even if the total product was a little less than inspiring.
Honestly, Secret of the Princess is a perfectly serviceable schoolgirl yuri story, and it lacks the skeeviness that some of the subgenre tend to wallow in (there’s one incidental panty-shot when Fujiwara picks up Miu at one point). Miu and Fujiwara both clearly are into each other (after the necessary angsting and uguu’ing on both of their parts about having actually begun to develop romantic feelings), so there’s none of the “I will bug you until you love me!” crap that’s floating around in Bloom Into Me or Kiss and White Lily for My Dearest Girl. But none of this felt particularly inspired; if you’ve been a yuri fan for more than a year, I can’t see this lighting your world on fire.
Seven Seas Entertainment’s release is perfectly fine, as is honestly usually the case with their stuff. It does bum me out, though, that they managed to get the larger format for this particular Morinaga title but couldn’t get it for Girl Friends or even Kisses, Sighs, and Cherryblossom Pink!
So, Secret of the Princess – it’s fine. Oh, I should probably note that there is a suicide threat toward the end of it, so although it’s played pretty cheesily and goofily, you may wish to steer clear if that kind of content bothers you. But, yeah, the manga is fine. Maybe a decent gift for a newer yuri fan in your life since it’s a one-volume tale? Hard to recommend it for longer-term fans with the bounty of yuri we’ve currently got in English, though.