By Former Contributor / February 20th, 2015
Wolf Girl and Black Prince is a series that, from its premise alone, you can tell will be either very good or very bad. The main premise is about a girl needing to maintain a fake relationship with a narcissistic tsundere so that her friends think she has a boyfriend. On one hand, this kind of plot can go in new and interesting directions that most typical love stories do not go to. On the other hand, If done poorly, the series could sound like something that glorifies domestic abuse as true love similar to stuff like 50 Shades of Grey or Twilight. So does Wolf Girl and Black Prince avoid these trappings, or is it not worth the abuse?
From an aesthetic standpoint, Wolf Girl and Black Prince is very well done. The art style and character models are well drawn and pleasing to look at. There are also a lot of interesting ways that the characters express themselves. One prominent example being that Erika sprouts wolf ears every time she tells a lie. The Japanese voice acting is also solid, but there is no English dub yet for those who prefer one. In terms of music, I liked both the opening and closing credits themes. The rest of the music was effective but not necessarily memorable.
Wolf Girl and Black Prince stars Erika, a girl who is jealous of her classmates bragging about their boyfriends. In order to impress them, she lies about having boyfriend by taking a picture of a random boy off the street and claiming he belongs to her. Unfortunately it turns out that boy she took the picture of is attending the same school as them. As a result, she asks Kyoya (the boy) to pretend to be her boyfriend so the other girls don’t discover she lied; In return, Kyoya asks that Erika be her dog.
It is important to mention that the series does not stick to the blackmail subplot for long. In fact, it starts to turn into more of a legitimate relationship drama between Erika and Kyoya by the third episode. The surprising thing is that, despite the very risky premise, the series manages to make it work. The reason this works is simply due to both Erika and Kyoya being very complex characters. Kyoya, in particular, just seems like a narcissistic asshole at first, but he turns out to have a lot more depth. Particularly, he tends to have a lot of insightful remarks about relationships, and is shown to have subtle changes in his personality over the course of the series.
A common stereotype in romance fiction depicts the girl wanting to go out and do a bunch of things while the boy is lazy and would rather stay home. The show did not take the typical route and have Kyoya and Erika follow a predictable trope; it instead gave them both reasons for their beliefs. Erika thinks there are certain types of things that are normal for a relationship and that you have to do them, while Kyoya brings up the point that doing special things does not change their relationship at all. Yet at the same time, Kyoya had actually developed as a character enough to still do these things with her anyway just to make Erika happy. As a result, neither character was played off as a lazy stereotype and it manages to make a good point about an otherwise tired cliché.
Erika, as a protagonist is a well developed, amusing character who has a good contrast to Kyoya’s serious nature. The other recurring characters are also well developed, but have a tendency to just drop in and out of the story. For example, Kusakabe, someone who wanted to date Erika and stood up to Kyoya when he treated her poorly, provided a nice foil for Kyoya. However, he just kind of faded away from the story after that conflict is resolved.
However, the biggest problem with this series had to have been its last 2 episodes. Episode 11 was notably bad in that it introduced Kyoya’s older sister Reika, and it has Kyoya go out of character just to put emphasis on Reika being a prick. Yet it never goes anywhere with the idea of having Kyoya standing up to his older sister and just acts as if Reika always cared about him. The twelfth episode was better, but it did not feel fitting for a finale; especially seeing as how it focused on Kyoya’s mother instead of any of our main characters.
Wolf Girl and Black Prince was a very well thought out and mature series. There were several ways that this series could have turned out horribly, but it managed to avoid doing so simply through the quality of its writing and the well developed characters. What really makes this series work as a love story, is that it does not portray Erika and Kyoya as star crossed lovers who fell in love at first sight; it realizes that the difficulty of a relationship is often overcoming each other’s personal differences. Wolf Girl and Black Prince may not be the the most exciting series, and its premise may not even be all that unique. However it does handle familiar tropes in unique ways and it is far more mature and well thought out than others similar to it.
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