The Mountain in Labour...
OK. For context: I read the first three volume series of Princess Ai, when it was fairly new and pretty hyped ("Grand collaboration of eastern and western artists" etc.) not to mention one of the first manga to ever be released in Hungary°. So my expectations were kind of high... and got killed in the shop before I decided to buy it because "historical importance".
My opinion is: Well, this art deserves a much better story. It's pretty with bishounens and Costume Porn
and everything a girl could ask for. But the story is a painfully cliché Self Insert Mary Sue
fic with characters, who make paper look three dimensional
I joked that I can think of two explanations:
1) (The more generous one) This was originally conceived as a much longer and more complex story, but somewhere along the line someone mercilessly edited it down to fit in three volumes.
2) (The more likely) The writing process went something like this: "OMG, I'm only a couple of paragraphs in and I can't think of anything to do with this setup anymore..." "I know! Let's throw in yet another cliché plot thread or character (manga reading teenage fangirls like these, right?)..." "Oh maaaan... I'm stuck again..." "I know!..." and so fort until they hit the required page count.
Recommended? Not really. It's might worth a flip though for the pictures if you like the art style, but don't spend money on it.
° It was the third title of the big manga boom of the 2000s, and even counting the previous failed attempts it's still in the first ten. Also second shoujo ever, after a Sailor Moon anime comic (not the manga, a comicbook adaptation of the anime produced by who knows who) that got discontinued after some months in the 90s.