When it comes to fantasy series, I’ve fallen in love with Prince Freya with every subsequent volume released from VIZ Media’s imprint Shojo Beat. This European fantasy from mangaka Keiko Ishihara focuses on a young girl, Freya, who is thrust into the aftermath of a treacherous plot against her king. Prince Freya Volume 3 is translated to English by Emi Louie-Nishikawa, with touch-up and letter design by Sabrina Heep, and picks up directly where the last volume left off with Freya grieving and thrust into battle.
The last volume saw Freya lose the last of her connection to her childhood as Aleksi is shot with an arrow and disappears. Having escaped one threat and walked into another, Prince Frey Volume 3 puts Freya through the wringer and pushes her further into the character of Prince Edvard while also trying to grieve through her anger. With her best friends gone, her well-being is put into the hands of her new guardian Sir Julius. That said, while Julius worries for her, Freya pushes past his expectations and right into battle as Fort Leren is under siege. While Freya is determined to help the soldiers trapped in the besieged Fort Leren, the reinforcements are days away and the only thing she has to offer them is her presence and everything it represents.
Prince Freya Volume 3 is the most powerful of the series so far. As Prince Edvard, Freya has to embody the Prince of Hope. Though small in frame, her every word and movement must reassure the men in the fort to not lose hope. But, with Aleksi dead along with the woman she attempted to rescue, Freya is consumed by anger. This is a narrative choice that Ishihara makes that stands opposite what we often expect from young women in media. Instead of anger, we’re given stories of sadness — the kind that breaks the spirit and leaves you in the most stereotypical state of vulnerability. That said, Freya’s grief has become a fire in her, and one she must learn to harness into strength. She is allowed to be angry, unlike so many female protagonists.
While Julius pushes Freya to process her grief in a constructive way, he doesn’t push her away from her anger when she voices her need for it. There is pain and fear throughout this volume but through it all Freya doesn’t stop moving, even when outmatched and injured. Her strength is on full display, even through her physical weakness.
Additionally, Ishihara’s artwork is fierce. It’s beautifully striking in moments, drenched in romance the next, and also features some fairly brutal action moments — something she opened the series up with when Aaron was beheaded in the first volume. Truly, Prince Freya showcases the depth of shojo manga, a demographic often overlooked when it comes to action. Ishihara’s story showcases how romance, grief, royal power struggles, and brutal action sequences and all converge for a powerful story.
Overall, Prince Freya Volume 3 is yet another strong addition to the story. It’s narratives like this one that make me wish that Shojo Beat offered a service akin the Shonen Jump App with simulpublication of individual chapters. If you’re looking for European fantasy to sweep you away, this is a title to pick up.
Prince Freya Volume 3 is available from booksellers October 6, 2020.
Prince Freya Volume 3
Prince Freya Volume 3 is yet another strong addition to the story. It’s narratives like this one that make me wish that Shojo Beat offered a service akin the Shonen Jump App with simulpublication of individual chapters. If you’re looking for European fantasy to sweep you away, this is a title to pick up.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Did You Have To?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.