by Matsuri Hino
Eight years ago, Armeria's childhood sweetheart Luce was kidnapped by pirates. Determined to discover his fate, the teenage songstress disguises herself as a boy and secures herself a place on the ship of Captain Skulls, the pirate who kidnapped her first love. The captain is younger than Armeria expected, and he bears a strong resemblance to Luce. But the Luce she remembers was gentle and kind, not at all like this womanizing, violent, rough pirate! When Skulls tells Armeria that Luce is dead, she just can't believe, and she sticks around, certain that he'll eventually reveal her sweetheart's whereabouts.
Of course, the reader will quickly realize that which the dense Armeria somehow misses – Captain Skulls is Luce, who has forsaken his aristocratic upbringing to plunder treasure from the wealthy and give it to the poor. The plot is predictable and weak, and if you remove the 17th century costumes and pirate ships, it's one you've seen many, many times before. This romance of a girl falling for a bad boy with a heart of gold might have worked with stronger characterization, but it's hard to like any of these characters. Armeria has a head stuffed with cotton; again and again, she fails to pick up on obvious clues and therefore ends up in danger or misses a critical clue. Luce is mercurial and erratic; he comes across as a spoiled teenager who captains the ship not for his skill or leadership but because the crew found it easier to humor him. He acts like a petulant brat most of the time. An officer in the Navy – who of course is a childhood friend of Luce – pops up midway through the book and would probably have become a romantic rival for Armeria's affections in this series had continued. Thankfully, the misadventures of these pirates are confined to a single volume.
As a bonus story – or as a way of fluffing out the page count, depending on your point of view – Matsuri Hino has included a period piece set in the Meiji Era about a girl who falls in love with a boy wearing a cowboy hat (I know, I know, just let it go) and challenges the social conventions of feudal Japan to be with him. Again, if you remove the historical atmosphere it's a common plot in shojo manga.
Hino's illustrations are quite lovely, especially the detail she lavishes on historic costume. But pretty faces just isn't enough to save this story from being decidedly mediocre and not really worth the time spent reading it.
2 out of 5 stars
To read more about Wanted, buy it or add it to your wishlist click here.
Peeking into the archives...today in:
2012: Fashionista Piranha is on a break until August 14th...
2011: Tales of Woe by John Reed
2010: Contest: The King's Mistress Giveaway
2009: Short Girls by Bich Minh Nguyen
2008: One More Year by Sana Krasikov