Mania Grade: A-
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- Art Rating: A-
- Packaging Rating: A-
- Text/Translatin Rating: A-
- Age Rating: 13 & Up
- Released By: Viz Media
- MSRP: 9.99
- Pages: 200
- ISBN: 1-4215-0221-6
- Size: B6
- Orientation: Right to Left
MeruPuri Vol. #03
By Julie Rosato
January 09, 2006
Release Date: December 01, 2005
© Viz Media
Translated by:Priscilla Yim
Adapted by:What They Say
While on a seaside field trip, the little boy Aram and Airi find themselves in he middle of a blackout at a public bath. Frazzled to no end, Airi drags Aram inside a closet, but someone walks in on them. Will Aram's secret be blown so soon? Meanwhile Aram's former fiancée Mariabel shows up at school. What evil schemes does she have in store for Aram and Airi?The Review
The penultimate volume brings true love -- and true love in peril! Can Aram and Airi's fantastical romance overcome all the obstacles in their path? Packaging:
VIZ uses the original cover image of Raz, little Aram and Airi in a maid outfit set against a background of warm, rosy colors. This color scheme matches VIZ's title logo and accents best of the three volumes so far and is quite pretty. The back cover reproduces the opening illustration for chapter 12, a jungle-themed picture of Aram protecting Airi. As per usual for this line, color plates are not included. Following the story there are a few pages of bonus illustrations and comics. Closing up the book are ads for other Shojo Beat titles, a Shojo Beat subscription card, and VIZ’s standard reader survey.Artwork:
The art in this title has actually improved some since the beginning. Character designs are a bit tighter now and the result is that they've become even prettier. Clothing continues to be a high point for me in this series because I love the detail given. As in the previous volumes, the artistic focus is on the characters and as such there are few backgrounds present, relying most often on tones or empty space. As in volume 2, there is a bit more background work done in the scenes around the castle in Astale, but otherwise there exists very little additional artwork. Lines are thin but not overly wispy and the layout is serviceable. The freetalks where Hino discusses her illustrations are sadly blank this time and this volume (or perhaps just my copy) is not as crisply printed and suffers frequently from washed-out black spaces. SFX/Text:
The translation and adaptation continue to read very well overall, but I did notice one or two bits of awkward text this time around. Honorifics have returned in full-force this volume (including Airi once again using "-kun" at the end of Nakaoji's name), which leads me to believe their lack in volume 2 was an editorial mistake. As per usual VIZ has translated the SFX using the overlay method with a variety of matching fonts and styles. The SFX were less distracting this time around, but there were fewer overall, and less panel-encompassing examples. Contents:
(please note the following may contain spoilers)
Raz wastes no time in harassing Airi whenever she's alone, his vehemence toward her ancestry quickly becoming apparent. He corners her on an evening outing while separated from the group and tries to do away with her. She escapes, but as it turns out, Astale's marriage symbols represent a bond upon which their bearer's lives lay and should anyone other than the vow-maker kiss the mark, the recipient will die. Shocked by the seriousness of the vow and Raz's cutting words, Airi realizes just how much she cares about Aram and about being accepted as his chosen love. Aram consoles her and the two share their first real kiss. Afterwards Aram comes down with a cold and while nursing him back to health Airi finally admits to herself that wants to stay by his side. Now she just has to figure out how to do that.
The two return to school and find Mariabel, Aram's fiancée from Astale, is now a student in their class as well. She gives Aram a jewelry box cursed to seal away his memories of Airi and it activates that evening, just after Aram tells Airi he loves her. With his memories of her gone, Aram leaves Airi's home with Mariabel and Lei, but they cannot return to Astale as long as Aram remains in his big form -- which won't change as long as he has no memories of his "most cherished maiden." Airi is dismayed and angry, but resolves to make Aram remember her.
Airi is surprised to find that there remains one person still on her side: Jeile. With her heart resolute on Aram, Jeile vows to help her win his brother back. Aram's attitude toward Airi is cold, but her persistent attempts cause unrest within him; he's physically pained by her nearness and doesn't understand why. Shortly after one incident he mysteriously changes back to his small form, enabling them all to return to Astale. Airi misunderstands how this happens and follows, but ends up imprisoned. Aram continues to stress over why he is so affected by her, so much so that he ends up offering her a position as his second wife. Naturally she refuses and Jeile procures her release into his custody.
As a "maid" of Jeile's, Airi can roam the castle in search of the jewelry box. She has no luck finding it, but she does find some trouble. Raz has apparently put the box in a sealed tower, originally intended as a home for their ancestors after marriage. That's not all -- Aram is incensed at Airi's apparent choosing of his brother despite her claims to love him, so he drags her to his chambers and demands answers. Airi surprises Aram with her forcefulness and while they're arguing a curtain falls on him and he is transformed to his big form. He is then shocked at the sight of their identical marriage marks and Airi's emotional outburst -- he kisses her and shortly after, to his surprise, he returns to his small form. Confused, Aram runs away, but Airi, now more determined than ever, heads to the sealed tower.
Apparently only those with the bloodline intended for the tower can enter however, and once inside, Airi finds she isn't alone…
This volume also includes a too-cute Jeile side story, which tells of the time of Aram's birth. It's almost hard to imagine that this innocent and shy 12 year old Jeile would turn out the way he did… that is until the part about Jeile's first crush -- on none other than Aram's guardian Lei! Comments
The opening chapter starts this volume with a bang: The romantic pay-off. Right in the middle of the series! Airi and Aram have their first real kiss (and what a kiss it is) and Airi's heart is won. Now we just have to get through the rest, knowing it can't be smooth sailing. Raz and Mariabel become Airi's greatest enemies and are entirely unsympathetic, but Jeile, on the other hand, becomes her greatest ally--who knew he had it in him? Once again he comes close to stealing center stage for me; his characterization is a little unstable but I've grown quite fond of him. (One of my favorite things this volume was Jeile dressed up as a wolf spirit -- really, this series just wouldn't have been complete without a dog-boy somewhere, right?)
Who didn't see the memory-loss angle coming? Unoriginal maybe, but it was probably the best thing to do here and I think it worked really well. It spurred Airi on, finally giving her the strength she needed -- not only to fight for Aram's return but also to live and to love in earnest. Bringing to life my hopes for her after volume 1, I was thrilled when Airi debunked her dreams of a modest "Tales of Marriage on the Plains" romance. Making the leap from her childish imagined ideal and embracing the love she was actually feeling, Airi was finally able to understand that she must write her own story of love if she wants it to be real.
One thing that struck me throughout this volume was how much older Aram seemed. Without Airi's influence, his childlike qualities and innocence all but disappeared, save a few scenes, and his behavior barely resembled the Aram we've come to know. Perhaps it is proof that as a prince he was truly a different person, but his maturity at the time of his confession to Airi was also quite sudden. Or perhaps it was a bit of artistic license necessary to convince Airi to feel love for a little boy and I just need a bit more suspension of disbelief.
Looking ahead to the final volume, I hope Mariabel and Raz will get their due (and horribly), and I wonder if Airi can win Lei over. He is probably in the best position to help their plight and could be a wild card here. Even though he treats Airi like a stain and assisted Mariabel in her plot to take Aram away, he's loyal to Aram and his only agenda is seemingly what's best for the prince. Aram believes that to be Airi, can Lei -- or all of Astale, for that matter -- warm up to her as well? Can their love really triumph there?