Started reading Ahiru no Oujisama (a.k.a. Duck Prince in the U.S.) manga mostly because I had a good luck run with Yamada Taro (Ai Morinaga is a hit or miss with me, but more of the former than of the latter, thankfully).
So there is this unlucky high school guy who is totally ugly (such a refreshing change from all good-looking protagonists out there--but, of course, I speak too soon) and super-small (imo, he looks like a five-year-old, and seems to get mistaken as one too). He is discriminated against by his looks and otaku-like behaviors. He has three older sisters (one of whom I'm actually scared of) who pick on him.
Anyway, this ugly duckling has an ally in the beautiful and kind Yumiko (but I personally think she's an airhead), who seems to have a strange taste in what looks good or not (she has an ugly dog, whom she praises as 'cute'). One day, Yumiko has to move to the U.S. and can't locate her dog, so the duckling comes to her rescue and tries to find the dog for her.
Only that he's run over by a car while trying to save Yumiko's dog from that fate. Because of the accident, his face is, shall we say, worse off than before (and I thought that would not be possible). Anyway, his family insist the surgeon remake his face as beautiful (since it has to be reconstructed in any case). And so, the ugly duckling wakes up from a one-year coma into a beautiful swan who looks similar to other Morinaga protagonists. (He grows super-fast during that one year bed rest.)
Now he has to switch school, so the family moves to hopefully where no one ever knows about the previous ugly duckling. As luck would have it, Yumiko is back from the U.S. and is at that very school (now she's a senpai, because the former duckling missed a year of school). I'm not quite sure if he ever really wanted to confess his identity to her, but he has to give up on that idea as soon as she remarks that she dislikes a person who has a plastic surgery.
And so the story follows the adventure of the duckling turned swan who has to fight off various admirers of Yumiko while he himself can't seem to go far with her either. (However, he seems to pick up plenty of admirers himself, and reluctantly goes out with one of them.) Will he be happy in his current form? Or, would he--gasps--ever admit that being beautiful isn't all he thought it would be?
I do like Duck Prince, but fear it might not be for everyone. Do check it out, though, if crazy hijinks are to your liking and/or if you're familiar with Morinaga's other manga such as Yamada Taro Monogatari or Boku to Kanojo no XXX (a.k.a. Your and My Secret). Still, Duck Prince makes Yamada Taro manga look sane, by comparison. (And I think even BokuKano seems tame in face of DP.) Have to say, though, that out of all Morinaga male protagonists I've seen (which are, admittedly, only a few), I still love Yamada the best. But I haven't finished
WTH, Duck Prince. What kind of ending is that? I thought Yamada ending is open-ended enough, but this one is worse. Please, what is resolved other than having Reiichi confess his love to Yumiko? She's still an airhead. And now most of previously ugly beings turn beautiful. Gee.
And, GEE, more edit, though I doubt anyone will see. I think I like Rei-chan, after all, even though he is so unreliable. He's an eye candy half of the time at least.