Ouji to Kotori / Prince and Small Bird by Yamanaka Hiko

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I decided to continue to pursue the theme of “imprisonment,” and stumbled across this entirely ‘sweet’ one-shot: Ouji to Kotori / Prince and the Small Bird.

SPOILERS

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I mean, I don’t know how ‘sweet’ you can call a story about a kid who ends up being sold at a slave auction because he couldn’t pay his grandfather’s debts.

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However, this kind of scenario at least seems appropriate for sleazy yaoi, rather than, say, a romance, like Ancient Magus Bride.  And, unlike in that other manga I mentioned without mentioning, our hero Suzuki Keiichi is well aware that being someone’s slave is bad and spends much of his time trying to escape back to Japan.

He, too, is transported to world where he is the foreigner. Only, in Ouji to Kotori / Prince and the Small Bird, Suzuki isn’t fluent in the language. He spends a lot of time not really knowing what anyone is saying to him.

Luckily, the prince bought Suzuki to be a servant to his younger brother who is a huge fan of Pokemon and wants to learn Japanese.  Thus, slowly, over time, Suzuki learns a few words, here and there, in Arabic.

Yeah, this is an Arab prince.

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There’s talk of harems and rigid social structures that, I would guess, are, for the most part, fantasies made up by the mangaka for reasons of Plot and “exotic danger.”

Our erstwhile prince, at least, is no rapist. In fact, Suzuki spends a lot of time expecting to be ravished and nothing EVER happens.

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EVER.

The lack of rape-y sex, interestingly, seemed to be the main complaint other readers had about this yaoi. I guess people don’t read these for the stories? I’m shocked, I tell you: SHOCKED.

I actually found the story clever, and the resolution, IMHO, was weirdly hopeful. Because nothing happens while Suzuki is enslaved, though they do develop feelings for each other, once the prince frees him, they start writing love letters to each other. So, I mean, this is healthy? They’re both free men, now, and can get to actually know each other?

I get why the traditional BL/yaoi readership found this unsatisfying, however. Our prince is pretty fierce, at first, about never letting Suzuki go, because he’s fallen for him, but when it seems that the prince’s older brother is making a move on Suzuki that the prince can not contest, he let’s him go.

That’s not what most people consider the “romantic” move.

The prince is supposed to kill his evil older brother or otherwise defy him, not just do the smart thing and set Suzuki free and get him on the first plane out of Dodge, as it were. And, they’re certainly NOT supposed to spend *years* apart writing stupid letters to each other.

We don’t even see them get back together, for crying out loud!

Yeah, but I kind of loved it. I mean, all the squishy probably racist stuff aside, I really liked the deliberate act of freeing Suzuki before truly beginning a relationship. Slave/master stuff is a fine fantasy (listen, I’m into it!), but if you’re going to convince me of _love_ it’s so much cleaner when the only ‘power over’ is voluntary, or at least not ACTUALLY purchased and coerced.

I can truly say this was a _romance_.  Is it what you want when you go trolling down the ‘imprisonment’ tag for yaoi? Probably not.

But, it’s short, and I think if you know it’s going to be sweet going in, you’ll be less likely to be disappointed.

Try it for the STORY.

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