Manga Review | Return of the Prince by Junko



This review will contain spoilers for the and anime series Return of the Prince. While the manga may vary slightly from all other forms of media, it may have similar story elements and could be considered spoilers.

Trigger Warning: There may be references to incest, , fat-shaming, self-deprecation, overwork, bullying, violence, homomisia, and sexual assault, as it appears in the manga.


This is a collection of three BL shorts by .

Return of the Prince (plus A Ring's Tale)

Adult life isn't all it's made out to be for Kou. He works all the time, is constantly berated by his boss, and ends up home alone. While at a relative's wedding, as if to rub salt in his wound, Kou runs into his cousin Fumihiro, whom he always picked on in their childhood. But as an adult, Fumihiro has become a handsome prince and is charismatic on top of that, causing all of their mutual family members to compare them, often leading to insults toward Kou. Frustrated, Kou takes advantage of the festivities and drinks himself silly. Fumihiro offers to care for Kou, leading to a steamy liaison between the two. Though it was only meant to be a one-night stand, Fumihiro seems to have no intention of leaving.


Ritsu Kitagami and Yasuhiro Adachi have been friends for as long as they can remember. Ritsu has always been quiet and considered a bit odd by those around him, but Yasuhiro cares for him all the same. Nothing has changed, even in , or so Yasuhiro thinks. While walking around campus, Yasuhiro sees Ritsu in a screaming match with someone, even going so far as to threaten to fight them. Yasuhiro doesn't even recognize Ritsu. Although Yasuhiro doesn't want to believe it, Ritsu has changed. But has Yasuhiro?

Beside Him

Haijima believes his best friend Shimizu might be in love with him, and in realizing this, he finds that he is in love with him, as well. But then Shimizu comes to school, announcing that he has a new girlfriend, and though Haijima believes Shimizu doesn't really love the girl, over time, he discovers that Shimizu never loved him in the first place. Heartbroken, he goes to their mutual friend, Hachiya, for comfort, only for Hachiya to admit that he loves Haijima. But Haijima still loves Shimizu. What will this mean for their friendship?


As usual, 's art is very recognizable. I'd say the style is much closer to Mr. Mini Mart than it is to Kiss Him, Not Me, but it's still very much classic Junko. I do like it way more than Kiss Him, Not Me, and in some cases, more than Mr. Mini Mart. The third story, in particular, has very heavy, clean lines, something that isn't very common in later Junko work. Even considering that third story, overall, Junko's work is very sketchy, so if you need clean art, Junko might not be your cup of tea. However, I implore you to try it because these stories feature intense expressions and emotional panels that are worth seeing, whether this style suits your preference or not.

Cover art for Return of the Prince by Junko

Of the three titles, I prefer the first and titular title, Return of the Prince (with the bonus story A Ring's Tale). It isn't necessarily the most fleshed out. Really, none of them are that fleshed out being shorts, but they all successfully achieve what they set out to do, that being to show all manner of love, but maybe none as successfully as the main story. This is technically incest, as the pair are cousins, but the familial relationship feels rather distant, so I'm not sure how close of cousins they are. Thankfully, it doesn't play a significant role beyond establishing how the two know each other and how they end up finding each other again (though I do think this could've been achieved in some other way, but whatever). But I love this particular story so much in this collection because of how easily Fumihiro integrates himself into Kou's life. It starts as a one-night stand, but then Fumihiro just never leaves, and something about that concept really speaks to me. Then, Kou is being degraded at work day in and day out, ultimately feeling he isn't worthy of Fumihiro's devotion. But, of course, Fumihiro proves Kou wrong, telling Kou that he's loved him forever and will love him forever, and I just adore that level of care and commitment. It hits all the right romantic spots.

My second favorite story also happens to be the second story we get. Metamorphosis takes place in high school, with a perceived . This one centers on one of my favorite BL tropes, the , and as the name suggests, we see these childhood friends change and grow, finding themselves along the way. But what really changes is their relationship. Ritsu Kitagami and Yasuhiro Adachi have been friends forever, and as far as Yasuhiro knows, he knows everything about Ritsu. But as he inadvertently finds out, the meek Ritsu isn't so meek anymore, shocking Yasuhiro. Ritsu has grown as a person, but Yasuhiro's perception of him hasn't grown to match. Then, when Yasuhiro finds out Ritsu likes boys and, presumably, is in a relationship with another classmate, he discovers that he doesn't know himself either. Change is the name of the game in this story and permeates every aspect of it. It's soft and gentle, with a heavy dose of misunderstanding, but really nice character growth and by the end. It's a good time.

My least favorite is the third title. Though, to be clear, it isn't bad. This is more of a true love triangle between three friends than the previous short, and I really like it for that reason. I especially like that Haijima truly believes Shimizu loves him, even when he gets a girlfriend, so much so that he tries to prove it to himself by monopolizing all of Shimizu's time, only for Shimizu to invite his girlfriend. That self-conscious yet arrogant belief in Shimizu's reciprocated feelings for Haijima is just so true to the teenage experience. Haijima is simultaneously cocky but also nervous, which is a sad and honest reflection of how most of us are during that time (at least for my teenage experience). Then, when Hachiya confesses his feelings for Haijima, I appreciate that Haijima didn't immediately accept him, instead taking the time to try and understand his own feelings and work through the grief of his forever unrequited love. This is the epitome of the high school romance experience but with the added idealistic romantic experience of BL.


These are a bunch of sweet little BL morsels. I'm not typically drawn to , being a self-professed degenerate, but I love Junko's story-telling, so when I saw this available, I couldn't resist. Though these aren't very long, they present multi-faceted and detailed characters with sparse but rich backgrounds that quickly establish who they are. They're not expansive, of course, but even at their short length, they will leave you feeling fulfilled (as well as warm and fuzzy). Junko is a talented storyteller, and these are perfect examples of that skill. I highly recommend them.

Have you read Return of the Prince? If so, what do you think? Do you agree with my assessment? Do you not? Let me know, and comment below!

Click here to read it for yourself!

3 thoughts on “Manga Review | Return of the Prince by Junko”

  1. Junko has great stuff! I think I’ll give these shorts a try.

    As a side note, but did you change your sites font? The bold feature now has it so words are light blue with a thick black outline. It’s pretty hard to read but I’m not sure if that’s just my phone doing something weird.

    • You should! I hope you enjoy them!

      And thank you so much for pointing that out. I had made some changes on the backend and didn’t realize it had changed link fonts. I’m so sorry for the bad experience there. I just updated them, so hopefully everything is a bit more legible. Please don’t hesitate to let me know if you ever see anything that make it difficult to read. I really, really appreciate all feedback.


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