A few questions for the director of Occult Academy, Silver Spoon and of course, the smash hit series Sword Art Online.
Reviewby Melissa Harper, Oct 24th 2006
In the world of Nachsung Academy, there may be princes, but there are also frogs. Ban Miyoul believes that she only deserves the princes in life, but unfortunately, it is one of the frogs, Heerack, her childhood friend and the dorkiest guy in school, who is madly in love with her. Is he really as unworthy as Miyoul thinks, and is she really all that worthy herself?
Honestly, this manwha can't help but remind one of the 90's film My Girl. The strongest resemblance is found in character Heerack, who is patterned almost exactly after character Thomas Jay, played by Macaulay Culkin in the film, from his striped shirts to his glasses and pageboy haircut, to his devotion for his violent, tomboyish friend.
That aside, this take on the frog prince story is at least interesting. Eun Ah Park manages to bring all the aspects of the fairy tale into this new story. In case we aren't familiar with the story of the frog prince, there is a sweetly illustrated recap at the beginning of the volume. The story then moves swiftly to the present day, introducing heroine Miyoul, a second year junior high student, and her fangirl-ish interest in high school student Ghun Guelin. Miyoul is presented right off as the worst kind of adolescent girl – she is self-centered, egotistical, obsessed with a guy she only thinks is in her league, and brutally cruel to almost everyone else. While being perfectly in character for the spoiled princess star of the frog prince story, she doesn't make for a very endearing main character.
The other characters fit equally well into the story, with the same sort of problems. Heerack is geeky and devoted to Miyoul, which makes him an excellent frog prince, but after the initial pity you have for the character, he becomes almost as detestable as Miyoul, for who in their right mind would be in love with a girl like Miyoul? He takes so much abuse at her hands that it is really nauseating to watch after a while. Meanwhile, Guelin's purpose in the story seems only to be to show what Miyoul's idea of a prince is, and as such gets very little characterization. The most interesting and realistic character is Che Rosa, a classmate who Miyoul professes to hate, but seems to be a more likely heroine than the one we're stuck with. There is also a mysterious dark boy that seems to have an important part to play in the story, but so far all we have from him is dark looks.
Artistically, the characters each have interesting designs, especially the main characters, but the quality of the art is a little uneven. Many times the characters look great, but there are several frames that suffer from bad proportions, especially in the area of the mouth and chin. It looks really good most of the time, but there are times it looks downright amateurish. Backgrounds are spare, but not lacking, and are generally of little interest, not outstanding either way. The layout is likewise not outstanding, not particularly artistic but it works well enough.
The story works quite well. It is obviously cliché, being a retelling of a famous fairy tale, but there are original twists to it that make it worth reading. The unlikeable heroine is one of those twists that benefit the story, but detract from your investment in the characters. While Miyoul is incredibly unlikable, she is still a more realistic girl than in presented in most shoujo manga. That doesn't make it any more enjoyable to read, but it does lend a realism to this fairytale. The people around her all react realistically to her egotism, including a fed-up mother and backstabbing friends. There is a perfectly acceptable description of how it is Miyoul and Heerack came to be stuck together, which was necessary, as she apparently hates him. Of course, the frog prince isn't dense enough material to fill out a multi-volume story, so other elements are added in. Among the intriguing additions are the “slipper club,” and exclusive group led by Miyoul's crush that Miyoul spends the entire volume trying to find out how to join. Also filling out the story are the mysteries of Heerack's older brother, who is of unknown importance to Guelin and the slipper club, and Rosa's growing infatuation with Heerack.
Bird Kiss is a passable modern fairy tale. It is certainly not the most captivating title on the shelf, nor the most original, but the unconventional heroes and the dedication to the original story make it at least passable, if not exciting.
Overall : C
Story : B-
Art : C
+ Main characters have original designs; interesting take on fairy tale.
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