For some reason, I like cooking manga. I like how people draw the foods and the characters mangakas create that prepare/serve the food. Usually these people are very free-spirited, spontaneous, devoted, and ambitious people without acting too annoying. Almost all cooking and food manga --if not like Toriko, which deals with "fictional foods"--often has cooking tips and recipes sprinkled in the manga or is featured as an extra at the end, which is what Kitchen Princess did.
Onto my analysis/Review:
ART: I worried how this manga was going to pan out after seeing the first chapter. The eyes seemed too awkward and big for the main girl's body, everything was a bit..off... but art was soon improved by the 3rd chapter, so that rested my worries for a bit. The food was drawn well, as food in cooking manga SHOULD. Typical shojo effects, though sometimes the panels seemed a little out of place or squashed. Plus there were instances where the characters' profiles just seemed weird, like their nose and mouth and eyes were all wrong for the head that was drawn. Other than that, average.
Najika, the main girl, is an orphan who is one of those mother-bird, always-sunshiney kind of girls who loves to cook and make food for people she loves. She is accepted into a prestigous cooking academy and meets the headmaster's two boys named Sora and Daichi. Both boys are fawned over by the other girls at the academy, and because Najika is 1) an orphan, 2) a country bumpkin, and 3) garners attention immediately from Daicihi and Sora, they turn feral and attack Najika. Typical jealous schoolgirl trope. Honestly it's pretty common and kind of lame, because I would slap those bitches across the face and tell them to get a life.
Because of the previous three things I've listed that make Najika hated, she is also constantly at risk of being forced into unofficial cooking competitions in order to prove her worth as a real cook/chef/baker/etc. She almost never loses her smile and determination, and truly wants people to have fun eating what she prepares. It's her basic goal in life.
She slowly proves herself through her honest and kind demeanor and begins to gain allies and friends at the academy, including a former self-proclaimed rival for Daichi's love.
There is "tragedy" and "oh-no!!!" but it didn't hit me. It's been pink bunnies and sweet parfaits up until now, and then Daichi and Sora's "dark family secrets" are suddenly revealed? Seriously, who has been reading TV Tropes? This is a straight Darker and Edgier if I ever saw one. Too bad it fell through for me. I didn't really care. I just wanted food, not drama. The ending panned out flatly to me, as well. Just so sudden and ... uninspiring. Like, everything was there, but I like it when the final "end" is spread across a few chapters, not one big chapter (50 pages). There are elements in this manga that shouldn't be here because it simply doesn't fit. Things like "evil dad stops being an asshole" and "secret family tragedy". It just doesn't work for this manga and detracts from the main goal in mind.
Najika is a smiley-faced, naive country girl who simply wants to make food for people she likes. Although a bit dense when it comes to how people really feel about her, she truly just wants everyone to heal through eating her food. Nothing wrong with that, I guess.
Sora is Daichi's older brother and the first brother to receive Najika's silent love. Sora is one of those kind, gentlemany kind of bishies, a foil to Daichi's blunt and and generally grumpy personality. Very typical. Truth be told I didn't like Sora. It also didn't help that in the last fourth of the manga a new character is introduced who looks exactly like him (even Najika mistakes him for Sora). To me that's just "replacing" a character. Don't worry though; the dude was a pompous ass. His "character development" felt weak and kind of lame, actually. Same with the Headmaster/Daichi+Sora'sDad. From the very beginning he is deadset on making Najika quit school in order to separate her from his boys, and tries very hard to make it so she can't win a competition or make the restrictions (or whatever) very difficult, but she manages to pull through. After the "personal family tragedy" is revealed, he turns a new leaf, which really threw me off.
This manga is average, overall. Average art, typical shojo cliches in it, and some out-of-place elements that I feel aren't really suited for the direction this manga was supposed to go. The ending disappointed me simply because it seemed rushed and last minute and stagnated. The art is weird at first, but then becomes cleaner. If you want a shojo cooking manga, you should read this anyway.