Backstage Prince (極付 楽屋裏王子 Kiwametsuke - Gakuya Ura Ōji?) is a manga by Kanoko Sakurakoji. Was serialized in Shogakukan's manga magazine Betsucomi in 2004 and 2005 and collected in two bound volumes. It is licensed in North America by Viz Media, which serialized it in Shojo Beat magazine from October 2006 to March 2007.
Akari is an average high school girl who fails to see why the other girls in her school are so interested in Ryusei, a young talented kabuki actor also attending their school. Akari happens to run into Ryusei at school and accidentally ends up bruising Ryusei in the stomach with her bookbag. By chance, Akari ends up following a cat all the way to a kabuki theatre and runs into Ryusei once again.
To make up for her mistake, she volunteers to become Ryusei's assistant until he is healed. The reclusive and socially inept Ryusei accepts only because she gets along with his pet cat, the very one she followed all the way to the theatre. When Ryusei is finally better, Akari realizes she has fallen in love with him and Ryusei has also come to reciprocate.
However, their relationship is put to the test by Ryusei's profession and popularity and those who disapprove of their relationship, especially Ryusei's strict father and Naoki, another kabuki actor who loves Akari.
- The protagonist, who is in love with Ryusei. She at first was not interested in boys like Ryusei and was even less interested in Kabuki. After a series of events, Akari becomes Ryusei's assistant and later his girlfriend. She does poorly on her exams due to running along with Ryusei's hectic schedule. When Ryusei's father refuses to accept her as Ryusei's fiancee, Akari inadvertently drives Ryusei away in her sadness but, is engaged to Ryusei in the end.
- Ryusei Horiuchi
- A handsome and talented Kabuki actor professionally known as "Shonosuke Ichimura". He is Akari's upperclassman in school, but tends to be anti-social and avoids other people. He loves Akari and she is the only person he opens up to. He later announces on television that he intends to marry Akari. When she rejects him after his father refuses to accept their relationship, Ryusei becomes ill because he had overworked himself. Upset, Akari cries and apologizes and notices Ryusei is crying as well. He, at one time, thinks of quitting Kabuki for Akari and himself to have a normal relationship. His succession name as a Kabuki actor is Shoen Ichimura. He is in the end engaged to Akari .
- Toshiya Ichimura
- An elite actor in the Kabuki theatre and Ryusei's manager. He acts friendly toward Ryusei, despite Ryusei's anti-social behavior. He is the one who initially suggested that Akari become Ryusei's assistant and is constantly trying to help Ryusei become more open with other people. He is also Miyuki's younger brother.
- Ryusei's father
- Shozaemon Ichimura; Ryusei's strict father, who disapproves and refuses to allow Ryusei to date Akari. He fails to see that Ryusei does not perform as well when Akari is not nearby. After Ryusei announces on television that Akari is his fiancee, Akari attempts to get permission from Ryusei's father to marry his son, who tells her she will never be good enough to marry his son since he is a "thoroughbred" in Rien.
- Miyuki Ogawa
- A beautiful Kabuki actress and Toshiya's sister. She is very talented and also comes from a famous family from Rien. At Ryusei's request, she pretended to be his girlfriend so that the media would not bother Akari. Ryusei's father would like nothing more than for her to marry his son, despite Akari and Ryusei's relationship. She is quite friendly and somewhat devious when it comes to asking people for favours, like rides around town.
- Mr. Ken
- Ryusei's cat, who is actually smarter than he seems. He leads Akari to the Kabuki theater's backsatge entrance, which leads to her meeting with Ryusei. When Ryusei is busy, Akari takes care of Mr. Ken. Initially, Mr. Ken is the only one Ryusei feels comfortable around.
- Another Kabuki actor and Ryusei's rival for Akari's affection; he is not from a family who has traditionally performed Kabuki and usually performs the role of women in plays. When Ryusei is away performing in London, Naoki befriends Akari and helps her learn more about Rien. As a result, Naoki causes a rift to form between Akari and Ryusei. When Naoki and Akari meet again, she ends up rejecting his offer to date him. Despite this, his feelings for her do not change and he continues to pursue her affections and helps her out when he can. He remarks that Akari and Ryusei's relationship resembles a Michiyuki, where two lovers are walking side by side to a sad fate.