Reviewed by: Eeeper
Released by: Sentai Filmworks
Age Rating: 14
Region: 1 - USA
Length: 300 minutes
Audio: Japanese 2.0 Stereo
Everyone knows that lies can come back to bite you, but when Erika makes up a fake boyfriend to impress her new classmates, the results may literally end up hounding her forever! Yes, it was dumb, but what were the odds that the random guy whose picture she used would turn out to be a student at her own school? Or that said faux-boyfriend's silence would come with such a horrible price? Now Erika doesn't just have to run and fetch at Kyoya Sata's command, she has to bark too! He's literally treating her like a dog, and she just has to roll over and take it or he'll tell everyone the truth! But that's not the worst part, because even though this wolf in hunk's clothing has Erika collared, she may be starting to have REAL feelings for him anyway! Is she barking up the wrong tree, or could true love be unleashed in Wolf Girl Black Prince?
Hey, so I decided to watch more romantic anime with added hi-jinks since apparently I'm a bit of a curmudgeon and need to soften my approach to current titles. Hey, I can't help it if I like stuff that blows up, wears powered armour or comes with a deep social message! In any event, I decided to finish off a show I had started in the glut of the Autumn shows from 2014. Titled Ookami Shoujo to Kuro Ouji in its native country, Wolf Girl and Black Prince is either a newly opened packed of Pringles that you must have twenty of or it's another slice of Black Forest Gateau that you simply can't get through. Depending on your taste.
The romance anime, I'd love to tell you, isn't something I gravitate towards. However, my copies of Maid-Sama or my currently obsession with Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Sempai make a liar out of me so let's ignore my apparent distain for the genre. Erika Shinohara is a high school teenager who has made friends in a new year but her mates all have boyfriends and she does not. Instead of coming clean, she takes a random snap on her phone of a cute boy and tells her friends this is her boyfriend. Her boyfriend, unfortunately, turns out not to be a random passerby but Kyouya Sata. Kyouya goes to the same school, in the same year, as she does and he's the school bae for every girl. So, after explaining her situation, Kyouya agrees to pretend to be her boyfriend in front of the school body. The story ends and she lives happily ever after.
Well, not really.
Kyouya agrees but there's a catch: Erika must be his loyal dog, fetching shopping for him, cooking for him, being at his beck and call. If she fails at any junction, the ruse ends and her social life in school will come to an ignominious end. So begins their twisted relationship and the start of Erika trying to figure out if Kyouya likes her or is simply pretending and being cruel to her in the doing.
Wolf Girl is an interesting title insofar as we're not sure of either leads intentions at the start. Erika only needs Kyouya to play along and she's more worried about hitting the mark in tandem with her friends: going for a day out, first night date, going on holiday, and spending Christmas together. So when she accidently discovers that Kyouya isn't completely the tough guy he pretends to be, she wants to know more. But love is cruel and Kyouya uses this against her to play with her heart strings and she gets torn up emotionally by his teasing. To him, this is a game and she's a fool for believing him. This is the balance between sweet and sour for our two leads. Too much and it wouldn't be believable while too little and we'll wonder what they see in each other. The way the show resolves the conflict is to show how cut up Erika starts to get when Kyouya is too dumb to see her standing in front of him while at the same time, Kyouya will decide on the spur of the moment to defend Erika from random strangers. When I mean Erika is cut up, I mean the poor girl cries herself to sleep while her parents worry about her but don't go into "lousy boy messing with my daughter, I'll teach him!" mode. As for our boy, he slugs would-be suitors in the face when they use Erika like a toy to antagonise him. Though the show has a "only I am allowed to mess with my dog's emotional state!" mode for Kyouya during these moments, we secretly know he is defending her honour because he does like her. But I would say that rooting for a guy that is being mean to his girlfriend in the hope he'll be nice to her eventually isn't always a great feeling. I'd root for Kyouya a lot more if the show wasn't so serious at times and therefore asking to invest in a guy who needs psychological help more than a girlfriend.
I love the show's use of the dog motif with Erika as she gets face pinched, hair pulled and generally tortured by Kyouya when she steps over the line with him. However, while Erika starts to use the same tactics (usually backfiring hilariously) on Kyouya, the show makes it clear that as the two characters come to their understanding that this was only a joke to set up the tension between them and the two of them start to get into the drama proper.
The turning point in the series is when Erika and Kyouya encounter a ladies' man, the same age as Kyouya, who tries to get Kyouya back on the path of loving them and leaving them. The show, which had been working toward a natural point up until here, casts us back by looking at how Kyouya used to be and contrasting to how he is at that point. Whatever happens to Kyouya and his relationship with Erika after this, Kyouya won't be the same person because of Erika. As for Erika, she becomes able to stand on her own without help or validation. Your milage will vary in how much you can buy that a girl would stay with a jerk like him solely for the yuk-yuk's. Their comedy is good when the two of them are together plus the cast of characters around them are misfits, jocks, sensitive souls or random friends who get a glazed over look whenever Erika goes on a rant that you realise that it's not Erika just needed a boyfriend. She needed to be herself sure, but the whole cast get agitated by the two pretendo-lovers being together. Plus the fact that they are so bad for each other and yet thrive on the energy that being thwarted by their intended is a weird but interesting angle.
All-in-all, you've seen this kind of show before but Wolf Girl and Black Prince does such a good job with the material, you'll enjoy the comedy. Whether or not you think it's romantic is another story.
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