A classic tale of opposites attract, Failed Princesses, by Ajiichi, is a yuri manga about a girl who’s dedicated herself to being an ideal princess and the plain girl who both resents and admires her.
Nanaki is obsessed with her appearance, to the point that she always needs to be the cutest person around and she refuses to leave her house if she doesn’t look perfect. All of her considerable efforts seem to have paid off for her; she’s the popular queen-bee of her class and has a cool boyfriend who’s always nice and understanding. Then Nanaki’s perfectly crafted life suddenly comes crashing down around her when she discovers that her boyfriend has been cheating on her and, what’s worse, when she confronts him about it he chooses to be with the other girl and dumps her! To add insult to injury, this humiliating break up was accidently overheard by Kanade, a mousy nerd whom Nanaki has, up until this point, been judgemental and rude to. However, instead of using this as an opportunity to gloat or get back at her, Kanade comforts Nanaki and then keeps what she overheard a secret. Nanaki’s so grateful to her that she decides that she wants to become friends with Kanade, even if that’s the last thing that the shy girl wants.
Ah, convenient misunderstandings, where would romance storylines be without you?
Nanaki is a very self-absorbed person at the start of the manga and doesn’t really consider other people’s feelings, but, because of this, she’s genuinely moved by the kindness Kanade shows her when she’s at her lowest. She not only wants to repay Kanade, she also wants to become her friend.
But here’s the thing, Kanade’s supposed act of kindness was mostly motivated out of self-preservation.
Kanade is focused on remaining unnoticed and, as such, she doesn’t want to do anything that could incur Nanaki’s wrath or make her a target for the other kids in class. She’s essentially just as interested with keeping up appearances as Nanaki, her efforts are just focused in the opposite direction. So, even though she doesn’t like Nanaki, she doesn’t bad-mouth her or try to start any rumors and instead just keeps quiet about what she saw. But, when Nanaki later asks her whether she thought that Nanaki got what she deserved when her boyfriend insulted and dumped her, Kanade admits what she really feels and says that she thought it was unforgiveable. What she means is that she thought it was unforgivable that beautiful, princess-like Nanaki was bemoaning a break-up when she has life so easy the entire rest of the time. But Nanaki completely misunderstands and thinks that she’s saying that what Nanaki’s boyfriend did was unforgiveable!
Now Kanade is in a bit of a pickle. She actually doesn’t want anything to do with Nanaki and she’s mortified when Nanaki starts trying to hang out with her; after all, it’s kind of hard to remain unobtrusive when the most beautiful girl in your grade has latched herself onto you. All of her efforts to dissuade Nanaki of her plan of becoming BFFs completely fail and it seems like nothing’s going to stop Princess Nanaki from getting what she wants! For example, when Kanade says that she can’t be Nanaki’s friend because Nanaki’s too flashy and she doesn’t want to draw attention to herself, Nanaki just dyes her hair a more conventional colour. Of course, this isn’t enough to make her anything less than gorgeous, but regardless, it’s clear that Nanaki won’t be easily put off and it’s hilarious to watch Kanade squirm as Nanaki bulldozes her way into her life. The push and pull of their relationship is pretty entertaining, and, despite resenting her for her good-looks and charisma, Nanaki is so straight forward and determined that Kanade can’t help but get swept up in her momentum. Thus an unlikely, but adorable, friendship is born!
Nanaki has a lot of flaws, she’s shallow and doesn’t always think about how her actions effect others, but she’s so honest and up-beat that it’s pretty hard to hate her. Getting to know Kanade also helps to make her less selfish. She starts out trying to give Kanade a makeover in order to makeup for being mean to her in the past, but soon she’s doing things for her new friend simply because she wants to see her smile. She even defends Kanade when some of the other popular girls in their class start to harass her, something that causes problems for her within her friend group. Not that Nanaki is about to let something like that get her down! Kanade, meanwhile, is a more introspective person who’s given up on looking cute or having the spotlight, despite wanting to shine like a princess, probably just as badly as Nanaki. Nanaki’s pushiness might just be what she needs to help her to embrace her girly side and start to be more honest. They’re opposites who complement each other well and I’m looking forward to seeing their budding friendship turn romantic, as Kanade continues to come out of her shell and Nanaki, hopefully, continues to grow as a person.
There wasn’t much romantic content in this volume, but I enjoyed the dynamic between the main characters none-the-less and I found this to be a cute and fun read. I’m looking forward to seeing where things go in the next volume.
Final Score: 8 out of 10
For more information on this series, visit Seven Seas Entertainment’s Website.
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Also, be sure to check out some of my other recent yuri manga reviews: