Failed Princesses Vol. 3 Review

Presumably successful princesses deal with less angst.

Despite a tearful reunion at the end of volume two, jealousy continues to be a fairly significant theme in the third volume of Failed Princesses, as the formation of a new friend group manages to bring along a fair bit of insecurity for both Fujishiro and Kurokawa… as well as Izumi, now fully integrated into the group along with Akazawa. A shopping trip with the gyarus providing some fashion insight to the otaku gives way to a school trip, and, as is so often the case, said school trip ratchets up the tension. Between rooming assignments and encounters with former friends, there ends up being a lot on the plates of Kurokawa and Fujishiro… and Izumi, who is certainly shaping up to be much less kind-hearted than she likes to present herself as being.

Alright, so, it’s volume three, I think it’s time for me to admit that, whatever my reservations about this series, I’m in it for the duration. I could do with a bit less melodrama and a bit more of the characters being straightforward with each other, but I’ve also come to like Fujishiro and her unthinking impulsivity a lot, somewhat to my own surprise. Admittedly, I’m a little less sold on the rest of the group – Kurokawa could still use a bit more backbone, although she is getting better on that front, and Akazawa, while funny, hasn’t really transcended type. But, as a group, they work pretty well together, particularly when the disparate interests are played off of each other. Ah, but – Izumi. What about her?

Oh, Izumi. I feel very conflicted about Izumi, because, wowzers, does she do some creepy stuff in this volume… It was already pretty clear she had romantic feelings for Fujishiro, but if anyone had any lingering doubts, this outing totally washes those out to sea. But for most of the volume she seems much more invested in making sure our lead pair don’t suss out their own attraction than in actually getting Fujishiro to fall for her, which leads to the creepy stuff. Among other things, she manages to pull off getting both Kurokawa and Fujishiro to doubt themselves through a very savvy divide and conquer move about midway through the volume. We also learn that she deliberately facilitated the break-up of Fujishiro’s relationship in volume one. It’s all very unsettling, and yet… I also can’t quite bring myself to dislike the girl; in fact, I feel a bit sorry for her. Being a teen girl with a crush on your presumed-heterosexual friend sucks, and if that “straight” friend then turns around and starts making googly eyes at another girl, well, that really sucks (I know, I’ve been there!*). So, I’m sympathetic to the girl, to an extent – but she needs to cut out the gross behavior fast.

By the way, while I wouldn’t say this is a series that has lacked fanservice previously, it gets cranked up a lot in this volume with a bath scene – because, well, of course a school trip means the school booked a hotel with a traditional onsen. (But, of course, the school also made sure the hotel had Western-style rooms so there’d be the fuss over room assignments.) I’ll admit I was taken by surprise that it went for nipples – probably best to skip reading this one in public (although, I suppose the opportunities for public reading are much reduced at the moment).

Speaking of the bath scene, immense shout-out to some truly masterful work from letterer Rina Mapa in this volume. I’m thinking of one panel in particular, and if you do read this volume, you’ll know exactly which it is when you see it. Simply fantastic work there.

No street-date yet for volume four; it came out in Japan last August, so I’m sure we’ll see one soon enough. I hadn’t seen the cover before just looking it up now; having seen it, I’m now genuinely looking forward to reading it, as it makes me hopeful about how the Izumi matter will be resolved.

*Worst part about this? This friend later became one of those lesbians, which is to say she went hardcore for biphobia, to which what can I say but 🙄

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