Wolf Girl and Black Prince tells the story of a girl trying to impress her friends with a nonexistent boyfriend.

Wolf Girl and Black Prince Volume One
Written by: Ayuko Hatta
Publisher: Shueisha Inc.
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: May 9, 2023

The story opens with a high school girl named Erika Shinohara being friends with two of the popular girls in her class and always talking with them about her boyfriend. Except, there’s a problem… she really doesn’t have one. Erika doesn’t want to admit this to her friends, though, because she knows they’ll abandon her if they find out the truth.

However, her friends start suspecting she’s lying because she never shows a picture of her supposed boyfriend. Erika decides to take a picture of a random guy to use as a picture of her “boyfriend,” and she assumes the guy she took a picture of is just some random nobody. But it turns out that he’s actually a popular boy at her school named Kyoya Sata.

When Kyoya finds out what the situation is, it seems like he’s going to be a nice guy and help her out. But then he reveals that he has a dark side to him, and he starts treating Erika like a dog. When she objects, he tells her that he’s going to reveal her secret to her friends if she doesn’t do what he asks. He puts on the nice guy act around her friends, but we see that Kyoya tends to act coldly around Erika when they’re alone.

One day, when some of Kyoya’s fangirls pester Erika for dating him, she is rescued by a boy named Kimura. He acts like he’s interested in Erika and asks her out, and Kyoya forbids her to see him. However, Erika decides to defy him and see him anyway. Just as Erika seems to fall for Kimura, she learns that he’s not being honest with her. While Kyoya does come to Erika’s rescue, I’m not entirely happy with the fact that he slaps her during this portion of the story. However, after it’s all over, Kyoya does something that seems to be an effort to comfort her, but he insists that’s not what’s going on.

After this incident, though, it seems as if Erika is beginning to fall for Kyoya, even if she denies it to herself. Other incidents happen in the volume where Kyoya seems to act like his usual self, but then does something that seems surprisingly nice. When Kyoya is sick and is out of school for a few days, Erika takes it on herself to look after him. Kyoya keeps trying to push her away, thinking she’s just trying to be nice for her own selfish reasons, but after he realizes that’s not the case, he actually thanks her.

Near the end of the volume, the expressions we see on Kyoya’s face seem to suggest that maybe he might be starting to fall for Erika. However, this isn’t as blatant as when Erika starts to think that perhaps she might actually like Kyoya.

Kyoya does come off as a jerk for a lot of this volume, but with this being a shojo manga series, I suspect that there’s more to him and his attitude than what we see on the surface. We do start getting a hint of this when Erika learns a little bit about Kyoya’s family while she’s taking care of him, but I think there could be more behind his attitude than just this. Hopefully future volumes of the series will flesh Kyoya out more as a character. As he’s portrayed in most of Volume One, though, Kyoya can come across as a toxic character, which does make it hard for me to want him and Erika to truly get together as a couple.

Erika’s motivations in this story make her feel like a shallow character at the start, but they are realistic for a teenager. Belonging and fitting in is important to many teens, and Erika is obviously not an exception. Kyoya points out this shallowness in various points of Volume One, and Hatta uses this to show the “mean” side of his interactions with Erika.

I remember hearing the title Wolf Girl and Black Prince when it came out as an anime in 2014, so I was surprised to see that VIZ Media just now licensed this manga title and began releasing it in 2023. It turns out that this is an earlier work of the mangaka behind the Ima Koi: Now I’m in Love manga series, which VIZ Media is also releasing. Realizing this fact, it hit me that while the art style between these two series is similar, there are obvious differences. When I compare the art of both series, it feels as if Hatta is using a more “minimalistic” look for the characters and backgrounds of Ima Koi: Now I’m in Love. When I look at Wolf Girl and Black Prince, it feels like Hatta was using a little more detail in her art in this earlier series.

When it comes to Wolf Girl and Black Prince, I found that the story was kind of interesting, but I felt that Kyoya could be a little too toxic for my tastes at times. Yes, he begins to soften a little by the end of Volume One, but to me, this doesn’t help excuse his earlier behavior. I’m a little afraid that by the end of the series, Kyoya’s toxic traits will be swept under the rug and all will be easily forgiven. I hope I’m wrong on that, though.

I admit that I’m not in the target audience for Wolf Girl and Black Prince, so I may be looking at it more from an adult’s perspective. I have a feeling that the teenage girls that the series is being aimed at will have a stronger appreciation for it than I do, but I hope they don’t believe that some of the things that Kyoya does in this volume are acceptable or healthy.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media