Wolf Girl and Black Prince

Wolf Girl and Black Prince

IMG_1075.PNGErika Shinohara’s boyfriend is perfect. He’s doting, he’s sweet and he’s raunchy enough in the bedroom to make churchgoers blush. At least, that’s what Erika tells her two new friends, Aki and Marin, girls who can’t stop talking about their amazing boyfriends. What they don’t know is that Erika’s boyfriend is completely made-up because she just wants to have something to talk about with these two glamourous girls.

When Aki and Marin start wondering why they can’t even see a picture of Erika’s boyfriend, she thinks she’s going to get found out. Or will she? Erika sees a hot guy on the street and decides to take his picture to use as her ‘boyfriend’ when they next ask. However, she quickly discovers that the model for her boyfriend is actually the “prince” of her high school – Kyoya Sata. To Erika’s surprise, Kyoya agrees to pretend to be her boyfriend so that she can save face in front of her friends. In exchange, though, when no one’s looking, he wants her to be his “pet dog.”

The elements that make up Wolf Girl and Black Prince aren’t exactly groundbreaking. The tropes are all the usual shoujo requirements – the main one being, in this case, the ‘beautiful knob-head boyfriend’. The bond between Erika and Kyoya doesn’t portray a ‘healthy’ relationship between teenagers in any means. In fact, it completely boggles my mind how these sort of relationships can come about at all.

IMG_1042.PNGHaving said that, of course, there’s something about this particular trope that resonates with a certain audience. When you think about it, it’s almost a classic plot device. Mose uses originate from the theory that ‘all girls really want a bad boy’ lightly seasoned with the hope that she is special and so can hopefully ‘change him’. Whilst this might not be representative of the majority of healthy relationships out there, there is a reason why this trope gets used again and again: it’s got plenty of drama. Not anime relationship is ever seen as ‘normal’. At the very least they have one odd quirk that noticeable cranks up the entertainment factor.

So, my main expectation of Wolf Girl and Black Prince is that it brings something else to the table as well as this typical shoujo motif. It’s one thing to begin with an unhealthy dynamic, but having it go undeveloped for the entire series is something else entirely. So far, there has been sufficient trope evolution to keep me interested, the main factor being Erika herself. Initially she comes across as a rather shallow and pathetic character, desperately trying to impress and compete with a pair of girls that she barely even knows by telling outrageous lies. Therefore, her impending ‘relationship’ with Kyoya is almost like karma coming back around to bite her – something like a humorous penance. There is no particular threat or consequence for Erika for giving up her boyfriend facade apart from her pride taking a big hit. It’s her own self-imposed fear of being exposed for the liar that she is that’s keeping her pretending that she’s in a blissful, real relationship. Despite what Kyoya puts her through, she still finds it preferable to people finding out the truth.

IMG_1116-0.PNGSo far, I have about as much respect for Erika as she has for herself, but you can see certain other elements that suggest that her character will soon develop. Aside from Aki and Marin, Erika does actually have a ‘real’ friend, Ayumi Sanda (San-chan) who is genuinely concerned with how deeply mired Erika has become in her own lies. It gives the beginnings of this ridiculous story a grounding element which is very welcome amidst Aki and Marin’s lengthy conversations about their older boyfriends, and the jealous stares and acidic comments of Kyoya’s ‘school prince fan-club’. Ayumi acts as the air of sensibility or, as I sometimes see her, the viewers voice of reason. Because she knows of Erika’s situation, she can ask the question we’re all thinking: “Why the hell are you acting the way you are?”

IMG_1044.PNGNow we’re about halfway through this series, we can see that Erika is starting to grow as a person. She has fully realised the implications of her lies and, against her will, she has fallen in love with the very boy that treats her like a disposable plaything. Kyoya has started to show his less controlling side, and there are (so far typical) backstory hints about why he is so emotionally distant and cruel. The two have slowly begun to get to know one another, almost reluctantly, and I have to give it credit for making this process an amusing one. Usually, the creators of these animes don’t tend to acknowledge how much of an ass the boyfriend is, but Erika quickly comes to the realisation as she finds herself in an emotional stalemate: public humiliation or having to endure Kyoya’s taunts and reminders of how pathetic she is.

IMG_1117.PNGThankfully, it would seem Wolf Girl and Black Prince has taken the uncomfortable subject of abusive relationships and portrayed it in a comical and intriguing way. It is amusing and self-aware enough to bring something different to a tired old trope. It’s slowly turning something negative into something positive, albeit in the traditional girl-is-helping-boy-more-than-she-knows way. What I’m expecting now is an end-series revelation with something surprising that doesn’t taper off into something that excuses both Erika and Kyoya’s behaviour towards one another i.e. “We’re boyfriend and girlfriend for real now, so everything worked out okay in the end”. However, only time will tell.