"Kyo Kara Maoh" has a beginning that might make you drop it out of disgust: the hero and protagonist, the chosen ruler of a magical race in another world... gets flushed down a toilet.
No, I am not kidding. That's pretty weird even for a manga.
Fortunately the beginning is the low point of "Kyo Kara Maoh Volume 1," a lightweight fantasy manga devoted to close-ups of gorgeous men in medieval clothing. Temari Matsumoto's adaptation of Tomo Takabayashi's light novels is a pretty typical ordinary-kid-learns-he-has-a-special-destiny story, but has enough humor and disastrous mistakes to keep things interesting.
Some bullies are in the process of giving Yuuri a swirlie when he gets flushed down the toilet -- and wakes up in a strange, medieval Germanic land. After he's met by the mysterious Adelbert, Yuuri is scooped up by a strange young prince named Conrart -- who announces that Yuuri is the reincarnated Mazoku (Demon) king known as the Maoh. And unfortunately, the Mazoku are at war with humans in this other world.
And though the exhibitionistic former Maoh is pleased to see him, her kids aren't all happy with it -- stoic warrior Gwendel and bratty prettyboy Wolfram don't think he's up to the task. Unfortunately Yuri is clueless about Mazoku customs -- and when Wolf insults his mother, he slaps him across the face (a proposal) and then grabs a fallen knife (acceptance of a duel).
Now not only is he engaged to another boy (who hates him), but the poor sap has to fight him as well -- despite knowing nothing about magic or swords. But their fight takes a nasty turn when Yuri's inner self emerges...
The first volume of "Kyo Kara Maoh" is cotton candy, as manga goes -- fluffy, sweet and fun as it lasts. The whole thing basically serves to set up Yuri's kingship over the Mazoku, and his rather varied relationships with the princes and their teacher Gunter. Cue lightweight homoeroticism, mostly due to the accidental engagement with Wolfram.
And along the way, it's got one social disaster after another, with poor Yuri bumbling around various strange customs (string bikini underwear!) and the whole idea that he's king of a land he's never even seen before. And along the way there's plenty of humour (Gunter's overwrought, infatuated rambles about Yuri, including a hilarious run from Yuri's room).
Yuri himself is a typical through-the-wardrobe hero -- a thoroughly average young boy called upon to do extraordinary things. But he provides plenty of fun through his social gaffes and woes (horseback riding, for example). And his brotherly relatonship with Conrart is rather sweet. The supporting cast hasn't been very fleshed out yet, but they're a colourful bunch -- the sexy ex-Maoh, her trio of totally unalike sons, and their mildly wacky teacher.
"Kyo Kara Maoh Volume 1" could use a less gross beginning, but fortunately this fluffy, fun fantasy story picks up after that.