Welcome to Second Life
Story: Yu Wo
Artist: Choi Hong Chong
4 Volumes – On Going
A virtual reality game with 93% “reality”? In 2100A.D., even that is possible.
Feng Lan never played it, but things changed when her brother challenged her with a bet. She had to prove that girls could do more than just “stay safe in the back and let the boys do the fight, but eventually level up faster”. Intending not to use her “female benefit”, Feng Lan entered into Second Life…. as a boy.
When I read the summary for the first time, I thought it would be typical gender-bender shoujo romance. Moreover, the cover screams “RPG” all the way, which is not my cup of tea. But first chapter got me hooked up, so I decided to read the rest. I say it’s refreshing. Even though the plot focus on the VR world, it feels more relaxing than the usual RPG theme, possibly because it’s only a game, without any serious mission to accomplish except to gain points and level up (so far). I guess it’s suitable for those who want to read fantasy but can’t keep up with long stories.
As a shoujo manhua (note: it’s chinese, so I’m using the term ‘manhua’), the romance is unusual too. I’ve read stories about girls in boys dorms (or such), and honestly have had enough with stories where there’s this one girl/boy and all the people of opposite sex (or even same sex) seem to fall for her/him and the said person is acting all innocent. In Prince(Feng Lan)’s case, fall for him/her is one thing, but chasing him/her like wolf chasing its prey is another thing. I mean, how many shoujo mangas has their heroines gotten chased by girls? Despite all that, I realize this manga has shonen-ai hints, although if you think about it it’s not shonen-ai at all.
The characters are also likable. Despite the well-built RPG setting, for me another strong point of Half Prince is the characters. Or to be exact, their cheesiness. Prince (Feng Lan) is described as energetic, tomboy, and not-so-innocent girl. Other characters like LoliDragon, Wolf, and Guileastos (Gui) are developed pretty well. I especially like Gui, because he doesn’t seem like typical cool and reliable hero. Might be, at first, but it lasts in three pages.
Art-wise, it’s good, if not decent. Prince and Gui are such eye candies! The clothes and armors design are perfectly suited the RPG theme. I say it’s enjoyable for girls and acceptable for boys. But maybe it’s more into shoujo genre.
Actually, I’d like to give Half Prince more than 8/10, but since it’s only one volume released in scanlation form, I think I should wait for the continuation to give proper rating. Not to mention there hasn’t been any real plot so far, except the story of how the group formed. Nevertheless, this is a promising beginning.
[Reviewer: Hertina Ritsky]