Our Kingdom: Arabian Nights by Naduki Koujima: B-

This one-volume spin-off of Our Kingdom stars Raoul, a former supporting character of that series, as he attempts to recover from heartbreak by taking a trip to a swanky Middle Eastern resort. His plans go astray when he is captured by a good-hearted yet foolish prince named Ashif, who plans to use Raoul as a pawn to ensure his sister’s marital happiness.

Raoul is naturally upset at this turn of events and when his temper flares, he takes it out on Ashif in the form of some forcible groping. Unlike some other BL characters who engage in such behavior, however, Raoul wallows in self-loathing because of it. As they spend more time together, Raoul begins to develop feelings for Ashif, who is able to show him good qualities about himself and motivate him to become a better person.

Even without knowledge of Raoul’s time in the main storyline, his desire to move forward from those events is still appealing. So, too, are his uncertainties about Ashif. Being with the prince has helped ease much of Raoul’s bitterness, but their friendship is also a source of anxiety, since Raoul must overcome the compulsion to hang on too tightly to something he fears might slip away.

It’s too bad that the actual plot of the manga cannot support Raoul’s turmoil in any meaningful way, for it is the personification of flimsy and occasionally borders on ridiculous. Secondary characters offer little to the story, and I have absolutely no idea why Raoul’s little sisters are present, unless they are intended to be the comic relief. These flaws ultimately mean that the story isn’t as good as it might have been.

Review copy provided by the publisher. Review originally published at Manga Recon.

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