MeruPuri Vol. #01 (Mania.com)

By:Julie Rosato
Review Date: Sunday, December 11, 2005
Release Date: Monday, August 01, 2005



Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Matsuri Hino
Translated by:Priscilla Yim
Adapted by:

What They Say
All high-school freshman Airi Hoshina ever wanted was to someday live in a cozy home with a loving husband and find joy in the little things in life. As a result, she makes it her daily mission to get to school on time because school legend has it that the longer one's non-tardy streak is, the better boyfriend one will find. But just when her daily routine is working like clockwork, an occurrence of fairytale proportions threatens to disrupt her grand plan.

On the way to school one morning, Airi drops her mirror - one that had been passed down to her through generations - and suddenly finds herself in a bizarre situation. Never in her wildest dreams did she expect to meet Aram, a little boy from a magical kingdom, to have emerged from the mirror in the short time it took her to track it down!

The Review
A magical boy romantic comedy – what could be cuter?!

Packaging:
VIZ uses the original cover image, which features a smiling Airi holding out her arms to catching a child-version Aram. It's a really cute picture that makes clear this is a fantasy-type story and has a really beautiful color scheme. The logo and cover text match nicely. The author's freetalks are present and includes an entertaining two-page introduction about how the series was conceived. Closing up the book are ads for other Shojo Beat titles, a Shojo Beat subscription card, and VIZ’s standard reader survey. As per usual for this line, color plates are not included, which is a shame because they look like they'd be gorgeous!

Artwork:
The art style is as one would expect for this kind of shoujo story; it’s really pretty and easily draws you in. Character designs are attractive all around and there are plenty of details afforded them. Clothing style looks good and the costumes from Astale can be quite elaborate. Most of the panels are taken up by the character art so there are practically no backgrounds present, but there are copious amounts of tones thrown in -- almost every page is rife with magical-looking sparkles, auras, swirls and shapes. The lines are thin but not overly wispy and the layout is serviceable. The author talks a lot about the artwork and designs in the freetalk portions of the book, and judging by one entry, it's a shame VIZ didn’t use the original back cover illustration!

SFX/Text:
Everything reads smoothly and the adaptation here does a really nice job conveying Aram's mix of haughty attitude and childish mannerisms. I didn’t notice any major errors, and only noticed one localization (a unit of measurement changed from a meter to three feet). Honorifics have been retained, which was a nice surprise as they usually aren’t included in VIZ titles. As per usual VIZ has translated the SFX using the overlay method with a variety of fonts and styles, and overall look really good.

Contents: (please note the following may contain spoilers)
On the outside Airi Hoshina looks like a typical high school overachiever, but her life's ambition is really to nurture the perfect romance and create a life filled with modest happiness. She's absolutely intent on finding the perfect guy to help her fulfill these dreams. Her world is turned upside down, however, the day a young boy named Aram pops out of her family keepsake, a star-pointed hand-mirror.

Turns out Aram is a prince from a magical kingdom called Astale, where her great-great-great-great grandmother was once a princess, and he's retreated to this world to escape the magical plottings of his elder half-brother, Jeile. Airi brings him home to stay with her until his guardian Lei arrives to retrieve him. Unfortunately for Aram, Jeile managed to partially curse him with a spell that robs Aram of his powers and causes him to age when in the dark. Only a kiss from Aram's beloved maiden can reverse the affects of the spell--and he's taken quite a liking to Airi--but she's determined to save herself for her perfect boyfriend and soul mate!

Airi's chastity isn't Aram's only concern, however -- he's also got some stiff competition! Her classmate Nakaoji is perfect in every way and he's got a crush on Airi to boot. To make matters worse Airi’s feelings for him are mutual, but every time she tries to accept Nakaoji’s offer Aram interferes and drags her away. And then there's Jeile! Showing up out of the mirror while hunting for Aram, he instead takes an immediate fancy to our defiant heroine.

Aram’s boyish charm begins to have an affect on Airi though and her feelings start to waver, but more than anything else she's afraid of straying from her plans of an ideal, modest happiness. She lashes out at Aram and runs away (and all the while hating herself for it). Unfortunately for Airi, Jeile was waiting for just this opportunity; he absconds with her to a castle of his creating (in her very own neighborhood park)! Aram manages to find them and a magical battle between the brothers ensues. Together Aram and Airi escape from Jeile's clutches, but Aram's left feeling frustrated that he can't be as forceful as his brother and doesn’t know how to win her affections. Airi is moved by his honest sentiment, but in the end Jeile agrees to break the spell on Aram and end this twisted fairytale. Or so they thought...

Comments
This is a story that knows what it is -- candy. It's fun and light and doesn't take itself too seriously, just right for a "magical boy" romantic comedy. There are lots of predictable shoujo manga moments, but the feeling here is one of an artist having a genuinely good time. The art is pretty, the humor light, and the burgeoning romance(s) sweet. Already this series is one of my guilty favorites. I think the balloon scene is my favorite, though Aram’s initial reaction to Nakaoji had me in stitches, too.

The characters are mostly by-the-book, but things tried and tested work well. Airi’s over-reactions and obsessions crack me up and perhaps I shouldn't let Aram charm me so with that boyish innocence stuffed into a grown-up body, but I can't help it, he's just too cute. (Especially when indulging in his spoiled princely behaviors--it's just so anachronous!) Lei is unsurprisingly stoic and deceptively sharp-tongued, and Jeile's comic-relief demeanor practically steals the show from Aram. How he manages to take himself so seriously with that pompous attitude, frilly costume and moronic behavior, I’ll never know, but he’s certainly entertaining.

Naturally Airi’s feelings for Aram will grow when he presents such an easy target as himself to love, and while her character is set up to react in a predictable manner I’m hoping she’ll be the one to change the most. Behind the fluff and fantasy this could be the real heart of the story -- Airi’s strong-willed but not brave; she’s going to have to learn that achieving a perfect love means taking risks along the way. And if that means throwing her idealistic fantasies out the window, then she’ll just have to muster the courage to do so. (I have high hopes for her!) Overall, this is a highly entertaining read and a promising start to a series that looks to be just a whole lot of fun.



Mania Grade: B+
Art Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: A-
Text/Translatin Rating: A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: Viz Media
MSRP: 8.99
Pages: 192
ISBN: 1-4215-0120-1
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left