Magical girls and reverse harems are standard fare in shoujo manga, and you can find both in Aya Shouoto’s Kiss of the Rose Princess.
Back cover blurb
Anise Yamamoto has been told that if she ever removes the rose choker given to her by her father, a terrible punishment will befall her. Unfortunately she loses that choker when a bat-like being falls from the sky and hits her. Anise is granted four cards representing four knights whom she can summon with a kiss. But now that she has these gorgeous men at her beck and call, what exactly is her quest?
Shojo Beat’s lineup is generally pretty solid so I was surprised that Kiss of the Rose Princess fell short on so many levels. For starters, Shouoto-sensei’s artwork is so crowded it interferes with the storytelling. The actual drawings are cute enough, but she crams so many panels on each page and so much into each individual panel there’s no breathing space. With everything so cramped, the action gets obscured, and Shouoto-sensei winds up relying on character commentary (i.e., “Someone is emerging from the card?!”) to convey what is happening.
Then there is the plot. It has several key elements of a reverse harem paranormal. High school girl Anise Yamamoto literally collides with a magical creature and, as a result, winds up the liege of four enchanted knights that also happen to be her classmates. The details of the Contract of the Rose are many and complicated (she summons her Rose Knights by kissing special cards; they draw their power off her blood; and somehow a rose choker from her father fits into all this). On the flipside, she and her knights have no real goal or opponent. Without any threat hanging over Anise’s head (other than her father’s displeasure), the manga turns into a kind of sitcom with the Rose Knights inconveniencing Anise’s everyday life.
Speaking of the Rose Knights, their character designs are attractive enough, and we have a range of bishounen types (the quarrelsome classmate, the super popular school president, the delicate loli-shouta, the dark, moody upperclassman). However, there is no chemistry between Anise and her knights. In fact, with President Tenjo, originally Anise’s one true crush, the romance element turns to parody when she discovers he’s a freak. And though the knights do have powerful abilities, their only opportunities to use them is when jealous classmates to try to embarrass Anise so they come off as less than heroic.
Extras include the opening splash illustration and table of contents printed in color; a two-page manga about the mangaka and her editor; and a bonus illustration.
Kiss of the Rose Princess has got a high school protagonist, four handsome knights, and an element of enchantment and destiny. It’s a standard recipe for a magical shojo title. However, the manga lacks a real antagonist. Without any sort of quest or goal, the characters spend their time thwarting various petty schemes, making for a less than epic story.
First published at The Fandom Post.