Starting your first year of high school can be more than a little daunting for many reasons. In Wolf Girl and Black Prince, Erika Shinohara fears having no friends in class, and she’s willing to lie uncontrollably to make sure that doesn’t happen. This affinity towards lying constantly spins Erika’s life out of control, to the point of photographing a random guy on the street to pass off as her boyfriend. Unbeknown to her, this handsome stranger was actually the incredibly popular Kyouya Sata – the Prince of Class 8. On the outside he’s the kindhearted and polite young man that is worthy of any of his classmate’s love, but it’s quickly discovered just how deceiving looks can be.
In what can only be described as an anomaly in the genre, Wolf Girl and Black Prince took me completely by surprise when I watched it. While containing all the classic conventions that a romance anime is expected to, the way in which the characters interact sets this show apart from others that I’ve seen. Admittedly, anything pertaining to the genre leads me to anticipate the same generic and trashy treatment of its characters and story that seems to be so common in anime. I am in no way saying that Wolf Girl and Black Prince isn’t trashy and generic, but the shock felt during Kyouya’s introduction in the first episode held my interest until the end.
A compulsive liar and a sadistic prince seem like an unlikely pair for the two main characters of a romance, but hey, it works. For the most part, the highlight of the show is the nature of Erika and Kyouya’s relationship, being one more of servant and master rather than girlfriend and boyfriend. Eventually the development of these two as a couple becomes the focus, rather than the predicaments that Erika gets herself in, steering the viewer towards a more traditional interpretation of the genre, however the underlying personas retain their comedic value.
Though nowhere near as prominent, the majority of the side characters were consistently relevant to what was happening and all are either entertaining or likeable in some fashion. Disregarding the fact that most of them, especially the main two, are genuinely awful people, I would have loved to see more emphasis put into what was happening behind the scenes. The only times that the other characters were ever present was either when they were with one of the mains, or when they were talking about them. It’s honestly a shame to see these interesting personalities built up to never be utilised on their own.
It is most definitely basic, but that doesn’t stop it from being one of the most entertaining shows that I’ve watched. The romance aspect is ever present, as is to be expected, but it’s approached in a way that is beyond ridiculous, making it hard to take seriously. Wolf Girl and Black Prince portrays all the tropes of its genre in the most unromantic way possible, never holding back. After a certain point, the viewer is presented with situations that they expect, and even want, to go wrong. Of course, it inevitably becomes repetitive and predictable after a while; it’s only a matter of time before the sucker punch loses its effect. This predictability, however, helps to solidify the idea that their relationship is “normal”, in a sense, increasing the likelihood of those watching to develop a sense of familiarity and fondness with the two. Even still, what starts off as just a big joke eventually evolves into something more heartfelt, and I found myself gradually drawn into the idea of this severely dysfunctional relationship being perfect.
As with most romance anime, especially those with a school setting, Wolf Girl and Black Prince doesn’t present what can undeniably be asserted as an exceptional story; far from it. It’s obvious that this show was not intended to rely on an engrossing narrative, but I appreciate the way in which the story, or lack thereof, is often used to generate humour. Peppering the show with harrowing images from Kyouya’s childhood, memories that seem to drive many of his decisions in life, and then dismissing them in a very underwhelming way by the end is just one example of this.
The show’s hook is blatantly obvious, and it doesn’t initially appear to offer more than that to differentiate itself from the rest of the genre. Yet when I look back on it, Wolf Girl and Black Prince is a masterpiece in its own right. It’s moments where the main protagonist’s love interest finds the very idea of love to be almost traumatic, quoting profound lines such as, “I already told you that you’re mine,” that makes this show so romantic. Their relationship is awkward and incredibly unhealthy, but damn if it isn’t somehow precious at the same time. I don’t doubt that I rate this show too highly, but I also can’t deny the enjoyment that has spurned me to pick up the manga and seek out the movie. It’s certainly not for everyone, but if you’re the sort that finds the typical soirée of romance to be dull, then you may find value in this work of art.
A review copy was provided by Madman Entertainment to the author for the purpose of this review.