Ouji to Majo to Himegimi to
The Prince, the Witch, and the Princesses
Prince, Witch, and the Princesses
Shoujo – Comedy, fantasy, gender bender, reverse harem, romance
12 Volumes (complete)
Hakusensha (Hana to Yume)
Subaru knows she has a prince-like aura, but she had no idea she was an actual prince in her former life — a womanizer who was cursed by a witch! Subaru’s reunion with her childhood friend leads to a reunion of the prince and all his princesses — who are now male! Can Subaru find the prince’s destined one to break the spell? And whatever happened to the witch?
Snow White. Cinderella. Sleeping Beauty. Almost everyone has heard of these princesses’ happily-ever-afters with their prince. Depending on the version, other heroines like the Little Mermaid and Thumbelina also marry the one they love.
Well, as Subaru of Ouji to Majo to Himegimi to discovers, these fairy tales are somewhat true: they all met a young prince who saved them from their despair and loneliness, but it was the same guy. Yep, old princey just went around helping young women and charming them in the process. The girls fought for his affection, and they swore to continue the fight in the next life. Well, if the witch’s plan was to avoid more fighting by making Prince “Charming” a woman, she failed — all the princesses have been reborn as men. (Not that everyone being a woman would have meant no one would have fallen in love anyway.) In addition, while Subaru doesn’t know this, the witch? She’s now her male neighbor and childhood friend Megumi.
Yep, so this is really The Now-Female Prince, the Now-Male Witch, and the Now-Male Princesses. We all know where this is going, especially when you add some eccentric friends and the mysterious chairman of the school: all sorts of hijinks and some sweetness.
Subaru is basically Haruhi (Ouran High School Host Club) combined with Kashima (Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun). She is a natural-born ladykiller, but unlike either of those girls, she has always admired girly girls. She has been living at a girls’ dorm for several years, but she’s moving back to live with her father since he’s come back to Japan. That means reuniting with her childhood friend and neighbor Megumi, a guy who loves fortunetelling. Long story short, his three friends are actually Snow White, Cinderella, and Thumbelina, and whoever wins the prince’s heart will live happily-ever-after in some way or another. A couple more princesses are revealed later. The chairman — who is also involved in a way that makes Subaru suspect he’s the witch — says that there’s a time limit and something bad will happen if she doesn’t fall in love. Megumi, of course, is the actual witch, and much of the manga focuses on his guilt and muddy feelings for causing this situation in the first place.
Ouji to Majo to Himegimi to is very similar to Fruits Basket. Both deal with characters who are drawn to the protagonist, and everyone is protective of her. Oh, and the whole breaking-the-curse thing of course. Megumi in particular is Kyo in the second half of Fruits Basket, secretly drawn to Subaru but believes it’s best not to get too close. However, this series is much more comical than Fruits Basket, and the fact that all the princesses are chasing after him is hardly a secret. Subaru just wants to enjoy her school life, but and the fact that the guys are romantically interested in her doesn’t register. She also accepts the fact she was once a prince and these other guys princesses way too easily. Characters who have transformed or summoned amazing weapons in other series — who have physical proof of magic and fantasy — have more disbelief than Subaru being told she is cursed.
Meanwhile, all the characters have their quirks, whether they’re a reincarnation of someone or not. Mashiro a.k.a. Snow White is always carrying around apples. The prince’s best friend / little sister Red Riding Hood is a blunt, messy eater named Komeko who goes into the men’s restroom because it’s less busy. Normal classmate Nazuna has fangirl crushes on both Mashiro and Subaru. But everyone pales to Cinderella (Reiji).
Yes, Reiji is a clean freak who hates to lose; he tries to one-up Subaru in everything. But deep down, he still wants to be #1 to Subaru, and no doubt much of Reiji’s sharp tongue comes from the fact he isn’t. He’s a perfectionist though, and this leads to some amusing interactions with other characters like who-cares-if-rice-gets-all-over-the-place Komeko.
A lot of the manga is just the six princesses rotating as the focus of a chapter all while they try to block or get ahead of their rivals. Expect a lot of “hold it!” grabs with angry eyes. Of course, the mysteries surrounding their past lives is a significant part of the plot, as even Megumi can’t figure out what Chairman Satoru is up to. Megumi knows that the cost of failing to break the curse may be more painful for Subaru than death, but Satoru hints their memories aren’t perfect. (Everyone but Subaru has memories of their previous life.) Unforunately, while much of the early manga balances the main character, by the time the end rolls around, we don’t get much in the way of others’ reactions to the truths. All in all, this isn’t the most unique manga, but it’s full of the shoujo conventions fans tend to love. Fans of NG Life or Hana-Kimi will probably be right at home in the world of Ouji to Majo to Himegimi to.
Although this isn’t an old series (it started in 2010), there are still some aspects that feel dated. The biggest one is the art. Subaru appears masculine, the supposedly girly-looking Satoru doesn’t look feminine, faces are long, and backgrounds are often nil. This series may be almost 10 years old, but it often feels double that. If Subaru and Satoru were supposed to be androgynous, Matsuzuki failed. They both look too much like guys for that, and not even in a fun or ironic way like in Ai-Ore! In some ways, because she was trying to force the internal gender swaps, the art looks like it’s regressed from Happy Café. It does get better later, but expect a lot of large, flat close-ups when Subaru goes into prince-mode. Matsuzuki also makes plenty of use out of the stick figure style for funny scenes, so this ends up not being a visually impressive series.
Also, as in the case of many of gender benders, a lot of the humor starts from the “heterosexual = normal” point. Lots of females in anime/manga tend to be super sweet to other girls and not to guys. While Subaru has no problems being friends with guys, more than a lot of similar heroines, I do wonder if she would have been, at the very least, bicurious. The manga makes it seem her fondness for girls is really a manifestation of her ideal self, but I do wonder how her life would have ended up if she just continued being the prince of a girl’s school and, later, a women’s college. Since the characters are actually reborn fairy tale princesses, the fact they needed a prince to save them can be chalked up to different times. It is good that no one condones the prince’s behavior, but I can see how the fact the princesses didn’t ditch him when they found out they weren’t the only one is implicitly condoning his actions.
Chance of License:
VIZ Media would be the most likely publisher in the US, but there is a small chance someone like Yen Press could release it. Matsuzuki has some exposure in the West thanks to Happy Café, but that was several years ago. The pages can be kind of busy, but with twelve volumes, this would be perfect for a 2-in-1 release, lessening the risk. The art is a major obstacle for many readers though. There are a lot of other current Hana to Yume that are probably more appealing. However, Snow White, Cinderella, witches, and curses are well-known, so this isn’t a manga that has a lot of barriers or cultural references to prevent new manga fans from understanding the story. But it doesn’t have an anime, so that is also a big strike against the series.
It was released in France as Le prince, la sorcière et les princesses, but it was dropped halfway.
Ouji to Majo to Himegimi to is a manga version of a fractured fairy tale. And unlike a lot of harems — reverse or not — the harem actually has a foundation for feelings to blossom, and the time limit provides a reason for everyone to gather at the school. Besides, who doesn’t want to see a tsundere male Cinderella who is anal about cleaning and personal responsibility?
Tokyopop released half of Matsuzaki’s Happy Café before it was halted.