Friday, April 25, 2008

Ludwit the Third

... volume of the manga, at least. But first a few basics. I’ve already written about “Ludwig Revolution”, a manga (read: Japanese comic) by one of my favourite artists, Kaori Yuki. (As her other series, the last being the three-parter “Fairy Cube”, are all finished, I hope for a few more volumes about Prince Ludwig [or Lui].)

Here’s the short description: Ludwig was sent on a trip by his father (with whom he doesn’t get along well) to find a suitable bride, preferably the princess of another kingdom. While the prince is quite attractive, his character isn’t as perfect as his looks. He has quite a sadistic streak and also a slight fixation on big-breasted women. Travelling with Ludwig are his servant Wilhelm and - starting with volume 2 - also the quite attractive (and rather big-breasted) witch Dorothea (who has quite a masochistic streak, so she would actually be a perfect match for the prince, including the magical knowledge and prowess in poisons she has).

With the second volume (published quite a while after the first, but then, there was a long break in her series “God Child” as well - and it didn’t hurt that series), the story takes another turn, as two more characters (the new wife [and former lover] of Ludwig’s father and her son [who’s also the king’s illegitimate son]) enter the stage and a plot to overthrow and disinherit the prince is put in motion. Assassins (first Wilhelm’s childhood sweetheart Lisseth [known as “Red Riding Hood”], then two former acquaintances of the prince, Hansel and Gretel) enter the story, but none of them can kill the prince, Lisseth even accepts his job offer. As the names - or titles - of the assassins suggest, the base for all stories of the manga are the Grimm fairytales. Starting off with Snow White (Blanche [Neige] who turns out to be a scheming, little bitch far from being innocent), the artist works her way through most known stories (Cinderella filling 90 percent of the third volume) and twists them in a way that makes them less suitable for children, but more interesting for older teens or adults. Ludwig stumbles into most stories by pure accident (mostly because the female lead is supposed to be very beautiful and, yes, big-breasted) and does his best to get out of them again - not above helping others, but not really looking for chances to be that white knight, either.

Volume 3 deals mostly with the story of Cinderella (who, in this version, rather enjoys being treated badly by her step-sisters ... thinking it better than to be completely ignored), but it starts off with the sombre story of Hansel and Gretel, being sent into the forest by their parents, getting caught not by a witch, but by a murderess, turning the tables on her (with a flame-thrower) and becoming assassins. While they nominally work for Julius (who, as the third volume tells the readers, actually is Ludwig’s half-brother), they remember the prince as a good person and in the end can’t kill him.

The plot really thickens, as the prince is returning home - which will force his father to do something. The interesting question is how much power the king has. Is it absolute and he can just kick out his son? Or does he have to listen to other people and can’t just disinherit the prince at will? The fact alone that Julius tries to have his older half-brother killed, suggests he can’t just be promoted ahead. And the fact that Ludwig hasn’t been kicked out before (as he and his father really don’t get along), suggests the same thing.

If you’re into manga, you might find you like this story (provided you can live with the twisted images of your favourite fairytales). It’s dark, full of blood, but at the same time also shows quite some humorous parts.

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