Harlequin Pink Vol. #02 - The Bachelor Prince (Mania.com)

By:Sakura Eries
Review Date: Monday, September 11, 2006
Release Date: Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Debbie Macomber/Misao Hoshiai
Translated by:Ikoi Hiroe
Adapted by:

What They Say
Prince Stefano was a man most girls could only dream of meeting. And now the very handsome - and very eligible - bachelor has come to America in search of the girl he will someday make his bride!

Hope Jordan's prince had finally come, but there is no happy ending in sight. Her royal suitor needs a wealthy wife to save his country from ruin, but Hope has nothing to offer Stefano except her love. Hope Jordan was the first woman to capture Stefano's soul, but will he give up his kingdom for her love?

Harlequin Ginger Blossom's Pink line is color-coded to denote its purely romantic material. Intended for anyone who delights in the sweet side of romance!

Printed in deep pink ink.

The Review
The back cover of this book declares, "Printed in Flirty Pink Ink!" And it is indeed pink. Very pink (though I would probably call it "Barbie pink" instead of "flirty pink"). As Dark Horse boasts on its web site, it is the "first American manga publisher to use single-color inks in lieu of black." In fact, the only portions of the book that are not pink are the picture of Hope and Stefano on the front cover and the Dark Horse icon and ISBN code on the back cover. I personally am NOT a "pink" girl so I find the overall effect somewhat obnoxious; however, "pink" fans are free to disagree with me.

The front cover depicts our lovers in a tender embrace. This is actually one of the manga drawings from Stefano's confession scene set to color. Unfortunately, the pattern of the screentone for the backdrop comes off as a funky looking pink and blue haze instead of the sparkly effect it lends in monotone. Above that picture is the series logo and title in white and two shades of pink. At the bottom is a pink horizontal bar with the writer's and artist's names. The back cover features the story summary followed by images from the manga with the series description, publisher's icon, and ISBN code below that. And yes, all that is in pink and white.
Binding materials are about average, and the only extras consist of several pages of other Dark Horse releases. Overwhelmingly pink ink aside, the print job looks pretty good.

I know that shojo mangaka are partial to liberal amounts of sparkly light and flowery screentones to convey the magic, tenderness, or passion of the moment, but the amount used in this book seem absurdly excessive even for a shojo romance. It leaves the impression that everyone is going around with their own lighting crew.

Backgrounds and character designs are about average. For the most part, Hope is drawn with a wide-eyed look that makes her look like a high schooler. If her pigtails were a little longer, she'd look like Sailor Moon! However, Hoshiai does a convincing job of transforming cute, ordinary Hope into something glamorous for the fateful date. Stefano is drawn as handsome, but certainly not effeminate (this IS a Harlequin romance after all!). Despite all the drama and overly dramatic effects of this book, Macomber does try to insert a little comedy into the story, and Hoshiai uses chibis for those funny bits.

Dark Horse does a satisfactory job with the translation; there are no major issues with regards to tone or structure. I do wish however that Dark Horse used larger text in certain places. Honorifics are translated to English equivalents (makes sense since the story takes place in Seattle). Sound effects are translated alongside the original characters in font that more or less matches the original effect.

The kingdom of San Llorenzo is in trouble -- it's bankrupt! The prince, Stefano, who is also the most eligible bachelor in the world, decides to save his country from financial ruin by marrying a wealthy wife. With the help of his secretary Pietro, Prince Stefano sets his sights on Priscilla Ratherford, a rich American heiress. As part of his plan to endear himself to her and her family, Stefano accepts an invitation from Priscilla's mother to participate at a charity event hosted by the Romance Novel Fan Club of Seattle-- where he is the prize! Yes, it's a lottery to win a date with a real prince! However, the winning ticket is not one of the hundred tickets purchased by Priscilla Ratherford. Instead, the prize goes to a hard-working young barista named Hope Jordan. This practical, down to earth young lady has no aspirations of pursuing the prince and only goes on the date because of her romance-novel-crazy mother's insistence. Stefano, for his part, thinks that the lottery winner is cute, in a little sister sort of way.

But their evening together is a magical one, and the two fall hopelessly in love. As a result, Stefano becomes conflicted, torn between his duty to his country and his heart's desire. Meanwhile, Hope despairs of her feelings for Stefano, realizing that they come from two completely different worlds. However, they cannot be kept apart, and when Pietro realizes that the prince is becoming distracted by this commoner, he drags Stefano back to San Llorenzo. How will true love find a way!?

Is this a Harlequin story? Yes. It's got all the stereotypical elements -- the rich, handsome, playboy hero who meets the heroine that instantly and completely captures his heart; the true love which cannot be denied; and the happily ever after ending. However, these are all the things that I dislike about the story. I will admit right now that while I am extremely partial to romance, I am not partial to American styled romance novels (I had two good friends in high school and college that bought Harlequin novels by the boxful, and I used to laugh when they gave me synopses of their reading material). Granted, the writer/mangaka had to fit the entire story into one volume, but the ultimate resolution of the courtship and the kingdom's financial troubles are much too simplistic. I have heard it mentioned before that the genre of romance in America is actually a particular type of fantasy, and it certainly feels like one because nobody's problems gets resolved as quickly as this. Also, there is not much substance to the Hope/Stefano attraction. All of it simply seems to be chalked up to "falling in love." However, if you like this particular style of story and are not averse to the color pink, you might want to check it out.

This title is rated 12 and up, and certainly, it is appropriate for girls that young, probably even younger. This romance is chaste enough for Disney to turn it into a movie. However, I wouldn't give it to any of the girls I know because I can see it feeding into the whole "Princess craze" started by Disney that has hooked so many little girls today (the three-year old daughter of a friend of mine had an absolute tantrum in a department store because she wanted to have her very own Disney Princess television.)

Mania Grade: C
Art Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B
Text/Translatin Rating: A-
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Released By: Dark Horse
MSRP: 9.95
Pages: 200
ISBN: 1-59307-536-7
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left