MeruPuri Vol. #02 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Art Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 8.95
  • Pages: 200
  • ISBN: 1-4215-0121-X
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

MeruPuri Vol. #02

By Julie Rosato     January 05, 2006
Release Date: October 04, 2005


MeruPuri Vol.#02
© Viz Media


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

What They Say
After Aram's elder brother Jeile fails to lift the spell on him, Aram is forced to stay with Airi. Meanwhile, an unsuspecting Airi recites Aram's full name in front of the mirror and is magically transported to Astale! But to Airi's dismay, the citizens of Aram's kingdom give her the cold shoulder. What do they know about her secret bloodline... ?

The Review
Irresistible princes, a spunky heroine, magical marriage vows, a family feud, even a beach trip -- this cute fantasy romp pulls out all the stops to charm its readers.

Packaging:
VIZ uses the original cover image featuring Jeile and big Aram in matching outfits, at their bishounen best. Jeile is holding a spellbook, Aram a cute Airi doll. The back cover reproduces the opening illustration for chapter 8, with Airi and Aram in Astale garb. Freetalks are included and there are some cute bonus comics too. As to be expected, there are no color plates. Closing up the book are ads for other Shojo Beat titles (including a color insert for Socrates in Love), a Shojo Beat subscription card, and VIZ’s standard reader survey.

Artwork:
The art style here is typical for shoujo but is very pretty. Character designs are attractive all around, each with various small touches and some nice clothing detail. The artistic focus continues to be on character art and as such there are few backgrounds present. A bit of extra background artwork is afforded when on-location in Astale, but otherwise it relies on only what's necessary and a generous use of tones. Lines are thin but not overly wispy and the layout is serviceable. A handful of steamier romantic scenes throughout this volume make especially nice use of the layout.

SFX/Text:
The translation reads pretty smoothly and there were no noticeable errors. The adaptation continues to do an excellent job conveying Aram's character, with his (often-entertaining) mix of ridiculous princely attitude and a gamut of childish behaviors. However, honorifics have mostly disappeared, save a couple instances, but I don't know if this is a translation decision or a change in the original text (i.e. Airi no longer affixes "-kun" to the end of Nakaoji's name). As per usual VIZ has translated the SFX using the overlay method with a variety of fonts and styles. The overlay job generally looks fine and is always neat, but there were occasional panels in this volume where I was distracted by overly large or crowded text.

Contents: (please note the following may contain spoilers)
Airi Hoshina's dreams of an ordinary life continue to be disrupted as she again must play hostess to Aram after his brother Jeile failed to remove the spell he placed on the young prince. Keeping Aram's secret isn't her only problem now though -- she's starting to question just how deep her feelings for Aram are! And in the meantime Aram is trying to cope with the jealousy he feels toward Airi's classmate and crush Nakaoji, who himself seems just as determined to win Airi for himself.

Before long Aram is summoned by his guardian Lei to return to Astale and attend an important ceremony. Though Aram is resistant at first, Airi convinces him to return home to fulfil his duty as a prince of his kingdom. Lei uses this opportunity to remind Airi that no matter how she feels about Aram, her blood is that of a traitor to their country and she will never be welcome in Astale. That night, restless over Lei's parting words, Airi gazes into her mirror. Her feelings of loneliness somehow invoke a shred of power and she finds herself transported to Aram's castle in Astale!

While wandering around the castle, Airi's shocked to learn that the ceremony is intended to introduce Princes Aram and Jeile to their betrothed! Pajama-clad and common, she's quick to attract attention from the guards and is tossed outside. Her feelings (and pride) hurt, she heads back to the castle in search of Aram and a way home. With the ceremony underway high above her in the castle, Airi's strange behavior incites the townsfolk and they rush her. Aram comes to her rescue, dramatically interrupting the ceremony.

The kingdom elders recognize Airi as the ancestor of the traitorous princess and whisk her away to be judged and sentenced. In a desperate attempt to save her, Aram barges in and tells Airi to kiss him, just above his heart. Airi finds that she cannot refuse him, but in doing so she makes a marriage vow to Aram in the custom of Astale. Airi is saved from punishment and Aram returns the vow, but now Airi's become a (very non-ordinary!) bride at 15. The two are allowed to return to Airi's home but their stunt has sent a ripple through the royal family.

Once back at home, Airi finds that there are some new students at school. First there's Razalude (Raz for short), Aram's cousin from Astale, who looks to be harboring sinister ulterior motives. Does he want revenge for the traitorous acts committed against his ancestor? Big Aram is there too (much to Nakaoji's chagrin), and so is Lei, who's quick to take over leadership of the school thugs. There's even Jeile posing as a substitute teacher! What's happened to poor Airi's school refuge?! Before she even has time to absorb the ramifications of having an entire entourage of Astale Royals in her school, Airi has another new worry: It's time for the beach fieldtrip! Amidst bathing suits, team sports and sleepovers with nosey classmates -- and a plotting Raz -- can their secret stay safe? And how long can Airi keep Aram's amorous advances at bay?

Comments
Still relying on fairly generic elements, there continues to be no real surprises to the story in this volume, but this series remains a guilty pleasure nonetheless. The introduction of some new characters brought a bit more depth to the story, and undoubtedly Airi and Aram's romance will be challenged even further in the chapters to come. Although partially hidden by her almost-constant freaking out after the events occurring in Astale, Airi's romantic focus has clearly shifted -- even if she can't admit it out loud yet. I found the freetalk comments about Hino’s editor pressuring her into making the key romance scenes more erotic pretty interesting. I thought the scenes in question were nicely done and certainly lent a good deal of stamina to the progressive romantic pacing.

I absolutely adored the first chapter in this volume; chock full of Aram being as cute as can be -- from his raging jealous behavior to a quietly maturing determination to win Airi from Nakaoji -- it provided a very sweet re-introduction. From there the Astale arc gets underway and the pacing really picks up, granting some considerable emotional developments. However, the final chapter moved a bit too fast, becoming a little choppy and almost chaotic. While certainly intended to convey the bevy of dangers to Airi and Aram's new, even grander secret, trying to cram in as many near-accidents as possible only managed to make everything seem forced. A trip to the beach is a manga staple that provides plenty of comic fodder to draw on, but this volume would have been better served if the chapter focused on just one or two challenges there. As such the romantic cliffhanger ending felt cheapened by the frantic pace leading up to it.

That said however, the many humorous mishaps thrust upon this all-too-charming cast were a fun indulgence and they left behind a couple of scenes laced with great dramatic potential to build upon in the remaining volumes. With the series hitting its halfway mark I hope the third volume can settle the series' minor pacing quibbles, but regardless, I still thoroughly enjoyed this installment and expect to continue doing so.

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