Princess Maison Vol. 1, the review of Aoi Ikebe's latest manga

Princess Maison Vol. 1, the review of Aoi Ikebe's latest manga
BAO Publishing and its manga editorial line Aiken are constantly evolving and expanding with the arrival of new stories and more or less niche authors. After the splendid series Dosei Mansion, recently concluded with the seventh volume, a new series divided into 6 volumes arrives that has been very appreciated in Japan so much that it has become a television series. We are talking about Princess Maison created by the author of Rakuyō, Nui Tatsu Hito and Mamma (winner of the Grand Prize at the Japan Media Arts Festival) Aoi Ikebe. Let's see together how the first issue of this new slice of life series looks like.

Princess Maison Vol. 1: the search for the perfect home amidst social and cultural uncertainties

Princess Maison tells the story of Sachi Numagoe, a thirty-year-old girl who works as a waitress in an Izakaya, a typical Japanese restaurant where traditional drinks are served with various kinds of food. For some time now, Sachi has decided to save money to buy a comfortable and functional home and for this reason it is now known in the real estate market as a regular participant in guided tours of private properties. Her curiosity and her preparation have allowed her to win the sympathy of real estate agents, but in the course of the story we will discover details and secrets both about the protagonist and about the other characters present in the story.

The first volume is divided into ten chapters and is a true cross-section of daily life, especially of women and girls. We observe people like Sachi who are looking for their dream home, but also those who have already found it or put it up for sale. All this is accompanied by the aura of loneliness, because while some of these women are happy to be alone and think only of the satisfaction of their material desires, others are constantly looking for a man who can keep them company.

The protagonist, of course, is the one on whom the story focuses most and immediately shows herself as a mysterious and secret character whose past is difficult to observe, but also her present. Readers, however, will have no difficulty in feeling empathy towards him and in feeling his own emotions such as serenity, calm and amazement for the small daily joys. Sachi, in fact, is a lonely woman, but she does not feel the weight of it despite being constantly surrounded by young couples or families eager to buy their new home. The protagonist shows a flat, almost surreal calm as she continues her incessant search for the perfect home.

Work tires her, the search for a home relaxes her. In fact, after work or during holidays, he prefers to use his energy to meticulously observe every house that may have potential and is now a habitual character even for real estate agents who see his in-depth questions as if they were tests for their own Preparation. From these actions they come out more aware of their role, but also intrigued by this young girl who intends to buy a new house in expensive and crowded Tokyo. This not only affects real estate agents, in particular Riko Kaname, Akutsu and Masakazu Date, but also other buyers who are intrigued, sometimes negatively, by Sachi. However, she, with extreme slowness and great rationality, manages to pass between their gazes without ever letting herself be struck by external pressures, inappropriate questions or unflattering judgments.

A quiet and calm narration like the protagonist

Sachi's research becomes more and more a habit that allows her to have her own independence and to partially come out of her inner shell. Although the story does not present any twist, the delicate narrative of Princess Maison developed by Aoi Ikibe makes the reading fluent and above all touches very delicate themes such as loneliness, mentioned above, but also the family. In particular, a focus is placed on the problems that affect Japanese women who are often still single after thirty years of age. This is also linked to the importance of owning a home in Japanese culture and the type of house based on one's social class.

In this regard, the author shows us Sachi's rented apartment , a very small space now classic for young Japanese, but also the homes of the real estate agents themselves and other secondary characters who often wonder what characteristics a house must have to be considered perfect. They wonder if it has to be just big and spacious, or it has to have good eyesight too. Furthermore, are neighbors important or should tranquility and greenery be the priority? In short, these are the questions that we also ask ourselves before buying or renting a house and that, undoubtedly, the citizens of an exaggerated and chaotic metropolis like Tokyo also ask.

Original artistic style and functional

If we have talked about tranquility and peace so far, this is also due to the beauty and effectiveness of the designs. The backgrounds are almost completely non-existent, but it is a characteristic of the designer who preferred to put more details on the characters or on both internal and external landscapes separately. In some cases the drawings are the real protagonists of the story since the same scenes are devoid of dialogue and importance is given only to facial expressions that are often very funny.

The tables almost never exceed the division into six squares i which, in turn, are divided by a large white space as if to visually show the sense of loneliness and closure of the characters in the story. In all this, perhaps the only flaw of the first volume of Princess Maison, but we believe that it may also be present in the following ones as it is a stylistic choice of the author, is the excessive stylization of the anatomy of the characters. This, in some moments, above all confuses the female characters, making the reading and characterization a little confusing.

The editorial point of view

From the editorial point of view, the work done by BAO Publishing is flawless again. It presents a style almost identical to that observed in Dosei Mansion and we can only congratulate again for the beauty of Princess Maison between accurate dust jacket, excellent paper weight and detailed and engaging aesthetics. Among the various chapters, then, some characters give the reader some tips to find the ideal apartment and BAO has also managed to perfectly insert these short extracts.

Conclusions

In conclusion Princess Maison offers a pleasant and delicate reading, but there is no lack of food for thought on very important topics such as family and loneliness, but also the importance of work and life in a metropolis like Tokyo. The splendid illustrations show us an unusual Tokyo characterized by alleys hidden by large buildings and skyscrapers. It is within these narrow streets that the life of the young Sachi takes place, constantly looking for her perfect home amidst secrets and funny expressions.

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