A Promise of Romance Vol. #01 - Mania.com

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Mania Grade: B

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  • Art Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: Digital Manga Publishing
  • MSRP: 8.95
  • Pages: 250
  • ISBN: 978-1-56970-710-4
  • Size: Shinsho
  • Orientation: Left to Right
  • Series: A Promise of Romance

A Promise of Romance Vol. #01

By Briana Lawrence     July 22, 2008
Release Date: May 27, 2008

A Promise of Romance
© Digital Manga Publishing

It’s sort of a Pretty Woman story… except Julia Roberts is a Japanese boy whose an actor, not a hooker. 

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Kyoko Akitsu / Tooko Miyagi
Translated by:Translation by Design
Adapted by:N/A

What They Say
A contract marriage?! Satsuki has gone to England to study acting, but it's all he can do to pay his living expenses. Just then, the handsome Count Edward offers him money in exchange for entering a fake marriage! If Edward isn't married by his next birthday, he will lose most of his assets. The two start out awkwardly, but gradually grow attracted to each other. But then a misunderstanding leads Edward to grow jealous, and he forcibly embraces Satsuki!

The Review
The front cover has Edward and Satsuki standing together with Edward pulling Satsuki close to him.  The colors are very soft, almost faded, which makes the cover art look simply gorgeous.  There is a definite size difference between the two, Satsuki is very thin and small compared to Edward, making it very obvious as to who is the seme and who is the uke.  The back cover has the description of the story with a small passage from the book above it.     

There aren’t very many pictures in the novel, but the few that we get focus on the two main characters.  The art is very well done, especially in showing the difference between Satsuki as a man and then dressed as a woman.  It also does a good job in showing the two characters as they grow closer to each other.  The only real let down I have with the art is that there aren’t any pictures of the two of them being intimate, which would’ve been nice to see towards the end of the story to match with their final scene together.           

The descriptions in the story are written fairly well.  You can get a sense of what’s going on or what a person or scene looks like with the words alone and not just with the art that accompanies it.  Italics are used whenever a character is thinking to himself.  Thankfully, there aren’t any glaring errors with the writing and I didn’t feel like I needed a red pen to make corrections as I read the story. 

Despite all of this there is one huge problem I have with the text: the constant barrage of the cultural differences between Japan and London.  It felt like the author had a guidebook to London while writing, and every little difference between London and Japan would be stated in the story.  This was fine in the beginning and was a good way to show Satsuki adapting to life in London, and even as a way for Edward to learn more about Satsuki (such as when he says “Itadakimasu” before eating), but then it kept going and got annoying to read, feeling more like a set of lecture notes instead of an important part of the story. 

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The story starts with Edward lounging around and drinking brandy like the spoiled rich boy he is.  His butler is rather distressed at his master’s actions, and he’s even more distressed when Edward forgets about their discussion concerning his engagement to Lady Margaret.  Edward is in no hurry to get married, but if he doesn’t do it soon he’ll lose control of the family estate and fortune.  The butler also finds out that his young master has given away the family ring to some random woman in the bad part of London and has been wearing a fake one this entire time.  The ring is a symbol of engagement to the Argyle family, so it technically means that Edward could already have a fiancée.  Edward decides to go off and find the woman, much to the butler’s horror, since this woman does not have the same standings as Lady Margaret. 

We then cut to Satsuki (whose nickname is May because “Satsuki” is the old Japanese word for that month), a young Japanese boy who is studying theatre.  We find out that despite his acting skills he did not make it to his school of choice whereas his friend, Yohei, did.  Upset about his failure, Satsuki takes it out on Yohei and the two friends haven’t spoken to each other again.  Determined to live his dream, Satsuki sets out to go to London after reading a book of essays by a theatre actor who had studied drama in London.  Unfortunately, money has been a huge issue for Satsuki and he’s already spent most of what he has taking English classes for the past year.  Now, he works at a pub part-time to try and make ends meet.  There’s only one real friend he has at the pub; a woman named Brenda who is always kind to him.  Satsuki finds out that Brenda has been very sick and goes to visit her.  When Brenda sees Satsuki, she gives him a ring that she had gotten from a man who she had considered to be like a god due to his kindness and beauty to her.  She begs him to return the ring to the man, but Satsuki has no idea who the man is. 

Edward arrives in London with his friend, Neville, and the two go to the pub where Satsuki works, looking for Brenda.  They meet Satsuki while he’s at work and Satsuki is immediately amazed with Edward’s beautiful accent and good looks.  Edward asks about Brenda and gives Satsuki his card, telling him that he’s trying to get in contact with her to get his ring back.  Instead of giving the ring back, Satsuki decides to tell Brenda in person that he has located her “God.”  Much to Satsuki’s dismay, when he goes to see Brenda he finds out that she has died.  He also finds out that Brenda had been living in a whore house and was a prostitute, because there are already people using her room for sex.  Satsuki goes to Edward’s house to tell him the news and he discovers that Edward thinks that he’s a girl due to his name and his looks.  This, perhaps, is a foreshadowing for things to come in the story.

After trying to return the ring, Edward actually slips it onto Satsuki’s finger and flat out asks if he wants to be his fiancée (most likely because he‘s drunk at the time), going on and on about how exotic and beautiful Asians are.  Edward decides that since Satsuki is in theatre, he will pay him 300 pounds a day to pretend to not only be a woman, but his new fiancée.  Satsuki, rather insulted, refuses and hopes to never see the man again.  But as time passes Satsuki thinks about it more.  He’s always tired at school due to working at the pub, and getting that much money a day would be very helpful.  He soon ends up back at Edward’s place and after sharing a meal with him he tells him that he’s willing to try the job.  Much to his surprise, Edward hugs him and sounds very happy about him accepting his offer.  The next day, with Neville’s help, they come up with a plan and a contract is made between the three of them.

A good chunk of the story following that is Edward and Satsuki slowly falling in love with each other.  There’s a few scenes with them going out on dates and of Edward showing Satsuki how lover’s kiss (which leads to Satsuki wondering why his heart beats so fast afterwards).  There are plenty of things blocking their romance, particularly a woman named Angelica.  She wants to marry Edward, despite being his cousin, just so she can get a hold of his fortune.  She’s extremely bratty (and I couldn’t help but think of the “Rugrats” character) and will stop at nothing to get to Edward.  Her purpose in the story is obviously to make Satsuki jealous and insecure about his relationship with Edward, but surprisingly, it’s not her who ends up ruining things for the two of them: Edward himself is the one who tears them apart.  At a party one evening, Edward sees Satsuki dancing with another man and gets insanely jealous.  He gets so angry with Satsuki that he rapes him that night, which almost ruined the story for me because of how overdone the “possessive seme” plotline is.  However, it’s Satsuki’s reaction to the rape that made me keep reading.  Instead of crying and shrinking away from Edward, Satsuki decides to go on with the charade with Edward and treats it like the business deal that it is.  He doesn’t accept any of Edward’s apologies and coldly tells him that he will never forgive him.  Finally, an uke that doesn’t tolerate the overbearing seme!

Unfortunately, from that point on the story is paced horribly.  I knew that at some point Satsuki would start to miss being close to Edward, and I took a sick sort of pleasure in the fact that Edward was so miserable because of his harsh actions towards Satsuki.  But the final chapter of the story is a sort of blur and before I was able to blink the two of them were back together.  It kind of felt like reading an outline to a story and going through all of the important notes in a quick skim, but not actually getting any real details of the major events.  There’s a lot of use of sentences like, “Two weeks passed in a blur,” to get through the plot and to get Edward and Satsuki back together as soon as possible.  And, as expected, they decide to forget the contract and Edward gives up his fortune to be with Satsuki.   

All right, let me be honest.  I was terrified at the thought of reading another boy’s love novel, more terrified then that half naked girl who runs up the stairs screaming in those horror movies.  But much to my surprise this story was rather enjoyable.  I actually didn’t want to put it down when I started to read it.  The descriptions are written well enough for me to get a visual image of the characters, the plot is interesting, and even when things started to get a bit cliché (Edward raping Satsuki), there was a twist that made me want to keep reading (Satsuki being cold and unforgiving towards Edward afterwards).

There were also different directions that the story could’ve went in that it didn’t take, a huge one being the relationship between Neville and Edward.  I was waiting for Neville to confess his love for his best friend, because there were definitely hints, but it never happened.  For once, the best friend plotline wasn’t used and Neville simply remained a friend to Edward, and even to Satsuki as he got to know him.  The progression of Edward and Satsuki’s relationship is also done well.  There’s time for the two of them to get to know each other and develop as a couple throughout their act of being engaged. 

This is why the final chapter was such a let down.

The final chapter moved way too fast.  It felt like there was much more effort put into the previous chapters and just when we get to the climax, it’s too quick and before you realize it, it’s all over.  I was very disappointed, especially after Satsuki’s cold declaration to Edward after being raped.  I wanted the final chapter to be developed more, instead, weeks pass in the span of a paragraph and the engagement party is wrapped up in less than a page.  The appearance of Yohei was a welcome addition to the story since it was obvious that Satsuki needed a friend, but the love confession from Yohei was not at all necessary and very much a pointless plot point.  Perhaps if Yohei had been in the story more, but he’s only mentioned in the first chapter as part of Satsuki‘s back story. 

It surprises me to say this about a boy‘s love novel, but had the last chapter been paced better I probably would’ve given this book an A. 


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