Once Upon a Time
Tales of a Wayward Prince
Ludwig Revolution is a gothic manga of four volumes that was first serialized in various shoujo manga magazines (Melody, Hana to Yume Step, Hana to Yume, and Bessatsu Hana to Yume) between 1999 and 2007. Two more tales in four chapters were added in 2012 and 2013 respectively, which were subsequently collected into one volume under the name Ludwig Fantasia.
The titular Ludwig (Lui) is an arrogant, hedonistic and capricious prince whose handsome face and womanizing ways are widely known — and feared! — throughout the nation. Exasperated at his heir’s frivolous lifestyle, not to mention his questionable taste in women, the King exiles Lui until further notice, threatening with disinheritance lest he bring home a respectable bride. The story thus follows Lui and his devoted valet Wilhelm (Will) as they journey across the land in search of a suitable bride — preferably one with big breasts.
The bride candidates as well as several other characters the two adventurers meet on the way are all figures of classic fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm, whose stories are retold in typically grim Kaori Yuki fashion. True to her trademark gothic fiction, she combines mystery, horror, death and romance — but also plenty of comedy. Albeit morbid at times, Ludwig Revolutions’ horror elements do not make it a horror manga, and the series becomes more and more light-hearted as it progresses. As it is largely told in an episodic fashion with no substantial overarching plot, it makes for a quick and casual read.
Kaori Yuki has penned many short stories over the course of her career, ranging from single chapters of varying length to standalone volumes. The first volume of Ludwig Revolution makes for a good starting point in that regard, as it introduces you to her style in more than one way. If you already have some familiarity with her works, and enjoyed Count Cain/God Child or Perfume Master, you may find a similar combination of mystery and cruelty here. Lui not rarely assumes the role of something akin to a detective, and has that same inclination to leave behind a trail of women — both traits that are particularly reminiscent of Cain.
(It would, however, be amiss to look for the same depth in Ludwig Revolution. As someone who has read the entirety of her work, I think that nothing even remotely comes close to Angel Sanctuary and Count Cain/God Child, which are both among my all-time favourite series. The thin characterization of the main characters in this case is not as detrimental as it could have been, given the nature of this short series, but is certainly not representative of what Kaori Yuki is capable of.)
Persons of Questionable Integrity
The vain casanova prince. He is always moving at his own pace, continuously on the lookout for big-breasted beauties. Sharp-witted with a sadistic streak.
Lui’s faithful attendant since childhood. He goes wherever his master goes, even as Lui’s antics are a constant source of trouble. Gullible and good-natured.
A buxom masochistic witch. She longs for nothing more than the taste of Lui’s whip and his sharp tongue. Willing to follow him to the ends of the earth.
A wanted assassin by the name of Red Riding Hood. A childhood friend of Will’s, she was cruelly tricked by Lui. Currently stalking him to get her revenge.
For more about my own impressions of the series, and a list of reinterpreted fairy tales along with my recommendations as to which are worth a read, click here to read on. Otherwise, proceed to the next chapter!