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Sugar Princess: Skating to Win Volume 1

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Sugar Princess Volume 1 by Hisaya Nakajo, published by Shojo Beat Manga / VIZ Media

Sugar Princess Volume 1

© Hisaya Nakajo / Hakusensha Inc.

The Bottom Line

Maya takes her brother to the ice skating rink and on her very first time on the ice, she attempts and lands a double axel. Her miraculous feat catches the eye of a coach, and she's immediately recruited to skate with a cute (but cold) upperclassman. Sound like pure fantasy? It pretty much is, but this is shojo manga, so it shouldn't be too surprising.

While the art is cute and the characters are likeable, Sugar Princess lacks the romantic tension, drama or action to make it a shojo or a sports manga winner. Everything is too easy for our spunky heroine, so her triumphs are less sweet and less satisfying.

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Pros

  • Cute and appealing artwork that will please most shojo manga fans
  • Includes profiles of pro skaters to illustrate Nakajo's love and knowledge of the sport
  • Maya is a spunky and courageous heroine who's always up for a challenge

Cons

  • Shun is a sullen and somewhat one-dimensional love interest
  • Everything is just a little too easy for Maya, which makes her triumphs less satisfying
  • Nakajo writes from a sports spectator's point of view, not as someone actually loves to skate

Description

Guide Review - Sugar Princess: Skating to Win Volume 1

Maya Kurinoki pulls off a near impossible feat on her first visit to an ice skating rink: She attempts and lands a double axel. Spotted by a coach, Maya is recruited to pair with Shun, a talented, but moody skater who's also her upperclassman at school. While he's initially cold to Maya, Shun soon warms up to Maya's infectious enthusiasm for the sport and becomes intrigued by her innate talent. But the road to romance or a gold medal is never smooth, so Maya soon gains a rival and must pass a test to save her hometown skating rink.

Sugar Princess, like Maya, is quick out the gate and fast-forwards past a lot of the sweat and struggles that is normally necessary to master ice skating. We barely get one chapter into the story and our heroine is already a skating prodigy who rarely lands butt-first on the ice. It takes a leap of faith to believe that Maya is good enough to skate confidently on her first try, much less pull off a jump that few beginners could pull off. But this is shojo manga, so reality-based storytelling isn't a prerequisite here.

As its title would suggest, Sugar Princess is a sports manga fantasy for pre-teens, where the goal isn't so much to get the guy as it is to win the next match.

As shojo heroines go, Maya is independent and fearless. When she attempts her first jump, she does it because "a girl's gotta try hard." That's an admirable sentiment, but there's just one problem. Maya never really seems to struggle or even break a sweat in her quest to become a great skater, so her triumphs somehow don't feel as sweet or satisfying.

The cute art will please fans of Hana Kimi and the story is likeable enough, but Sugar Princess falls short of shojo or sports manga perfection because it lacks the tantalizing dramatic tension and action that would make it worthwhile to turn the page and come back for more.

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