I was riding a train from the land of Shojo to see my childhood friend,Otona Ni Nuts, Otona for short. Yes my childhood friend is a manga,shut up. As I rode alone through the flower fields, I was approached by a middle aged woman selling Gokult. I politely declined but she slipped me a small package which contained 6 volumes of a manga. Bored, I figured I read it to kill time and to my surprise it was quite enjoyable. So in the spirit of killing time let's talk about Tomorrow's King.
Tomorrow's King is a 1996 Josei manga by Emiko Yachi and the only of her works to see any kind of translation,so no I won't be making a fool of myself like I did with Glass Wings. It concerns the life of Sasaysa Yuu and her journey through the world of acting. If your getting Glass Mask vibes stop that now, the series does have a similar start but quickly comes into its own. So before I end my fictional train ride,we'll determine if Tomorrow's King is worth your time.
The main theme of the work is that dreams can often change and you should pursue this true dream. Yuu herself goes from wanting to be an actor to being a playwright. Her love interest,Touya,goes into TV acting despite earlier protests. This theme really does bring the series to life,grounding it in believability. Most of the characters flit in and out depending on their relationship to Yuu. It's akin to real life with people not related to your endeavors being forgotten for a while because your busy. It's all firmly grounded in reality and makes Yuu's struggles and triumphs all the more fun to read.
The books also deal with the world of acting and the almost symbiotic relationship between the actor and the director. Most of the strife comes from the cut throat nature of the business though it is interspersed among the rivalry between Yuu and fellow director, Rin. To it's credit,the drama takes a backseat to said rivalry and never feels melodramatic. No one is secretly evil nor does a script some how bring about the end times.. Again it's firmly grounded in reality and that's where it's comfortable.
One could argue that this does take many notes from shojo juggernaut,Glass Mask(GM), but that's be unfair to both works. They both have a person in the field of theater,who has a talent for their craft and their struggles in life. However Yuu is not portrayed as a genesis playwright and has different goals and priorities than Maya from GM. The beginning sets you up to believe Yuu will some how be an acting prodigy but then she's terrible at it. When she tries to do Maya's schtick of perfect mimicry,she fails miserably. After that the story just moves on to doing it's own thing and I stopped making the comparisons.
This being a manga with good looking guys and girls who work closely together means love will eventually bloom. The book works love in a beautiful and mature way. It's very subtle till the end where the sexual tension is think enough to cut with a guillotine. In fact all the relationships are done very well and are clearly defined with out shoving it in the readers face. I could say the love triangle is semi useless because you know from the beginning who she'll end up with. However the other guy does serve to make the finale more personal,so he's fine by me.
My only real problem with the story is pacing. The story will gloss over things that seemed like they should have warranted a chapter. This gets really obvious near the end when the big play that's been hyped up seems to be mostly happening in the background. This may have been because the book wasn't doing well, I don't really know.
This being a bit of a character study of one Sasaya Yuu,it's probably be good to talk about her and the cast. She is an earnest and kind person with a fiery passion. Her character is used to play with the main theme about dreams but also the concepts of identity and self worth. She grows from a naive girl fresh form the farm to a confident playwright. She isn't a perfect person,she can be selfish and slightly sadistic when it comes to her scripts. However that just serves to highlight the passion she has for the scripts. As she does grows more confident that passion does intensify. During her first foray into TV writing she uses her determination to overcome her hate at seeing her serious scripts become comedies. It's her passion and kindness that make her interesting and increases the desire to see her do well.
The rest of the cast go through their own little arcs in relation to Sasaya's and this does bring up a minor problem with her love interest Touya. He's not particular interesting as a character,his with his only qualities being that he's good looking and is an exquisite actor. However his interactions with Sasaya are great and it's clear why he eventually falls for her. The rest of the main cast stands on their own and usually gets some nice growth if they need it. All those mini-arcs go towards the main theme of pursing your true dream. Except for Yuu's mentor,Shougo, who serves as the motivator for Sasaya.He is the end result of following your dreams.Even Kina who plays the role of the snooty girl antagonist gets her own arc that makes her more sympathetic. We see what motivates her and therefore understand why she is this way.
I'll ask you dear reader this are you a fan of a more realistic style because that's what your getting when you read this manga. It can be jarring for the first few chapters especially with the author's love of inking in the lips. It's very weird but once things get going you start to see beauty in the designs. The chapter splash pages are delightfully cheesy but are still well drawn.
As the train reached my hometown on the outskirts of the land of Shojo I reflected on Tomorrow's King. I thought that it was a great story that handled it's themes in a mature way and was quite enjoyable despite it's flaws. As I got off the train Otona greeted me in the way she normally did with a big hug and then some events happened. That is a story for next time.
As always comments,requests and death threats are always welcome.