I saw Cursed Princess Club v.1 on a shelf and thought it looked interesting but left it there; then I was reminded of this title by a fellow Cannonballer, and decided that maybe I wanted to pick it up. Turns out I didn’t remember which store I’d seen it in, so I ordered it, then saw it on the shelf again two days before I got it. By this point, there was a second review. I agree with both of them.
The art style is definitely on the cutesey side, but it’s also kind of a synthesis between manga (mostly the characters) and American comics (mostly the backgrounds which are somewhat minimal). The general pastel color scheme suits the princessy subject too, as well as providing a general reference to the setting, the Pastel Kingdom. A lot of cozier manga actually do get thematic with naming various groups, and here the convention seems to be based on various patterns; the thing is that the comic is pretty self aware of these tropes, and has some subtle fun with them. For example, when the Pastel king announces that he’d like his three daughters to consider marrying the three princely brothers from the neighboring Plaid kingdom, the middle daughter describes the union as “an impending fashion disaster because pastels and plaid look gross together.” She gets over that upon seeing a picture of said three brothers.
Besides having fun with these tropes, the fairy tale conventions are likewise clearly present but again with a bit of a tweak. There are obviously 3 princesses and three princes (the number 3 is classic), and the youngest daughter is the main character. The two older girls, Maria and Lorena, are classic beauties, indistinguishable save for hair and eye color; Maria mysteriously attracts all cute woodland creatures and Lorena somehow has flowers randomly flowering around her; both girls directly point this out. Gwendolyn, the youngest naturally must be the one with the adventure; she looks like a classic witch out of a fairy tale but has no idea because the rest of her family are super loving and supportive; she’s also the cook of the family. When she hears the prince she’s supposed to be paired with (turns out he’s got some youngest third son problems of his own) complain that the girl he’s being set up with is ugly, she naturally gets upset and runs off, where she encounters the title club. They are a hilarious group of cursed royalty (not everyone is a princess, and not everyone is totally human either), and some of the curses are not known (at least not yet)).
Gwen tries to learn how to communicate with Fredrick (her possible prince) and that’s going to be a classic of screwball comic misunderstandings but maybe we actually can get to like each other vibe. Other antics include an extended waffle joke, and a “wake” involving Gwen and co’s brother Jamie (pretty in a way that gets him mistaken for a princess; I’m also not sure how he and Gwen are the same age. If they were twins, I would think that would be pointed out, and it’s not).
I’m definitely looking forward to future volumes since there’s plenty of hints about further classic fairy tale scenarios (like mirrors cracking when a certain someone looks into them, and another character potentially developing hostility towards Gwen, the mystery of Prez’s curse, and more).