Top positive review
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A very enjoyable read
on January 15, 2009
"Death shall scythe your soul," reads the tattoo of the evil pirate Skulls. Yar, matey. This be Matsuri Hino's Wanted. Not that other Wanted that was recently made into a movie with Angelina Jolie and featured the curvy bullet trick.
Once upon a time, there lived a young girl named Ameria. She was an orphaned songstress taken in by a troupe of performers. She even sang for Governor Lanceman, a nobleman who had taken in a rebellious orphan lad named Luce. Ameria admired Luce for his kindness. Luce resented his uncle for the way he treated those below him, including Ameria and her troupe. One night, a group of pirates led by the infamous Captain Skulls took Luce hostage and burned down the Governor's home. Since that night, Ameria has been searching for Luce.
Eight years later, Ameria has finally located the pirates who kidnapped Luce. She disguises herself as a boy named Arto and joins the crew. She fools the pirates for a while until an accident blows her cover and reveals her as a female. Captain Skulls takes her under his wing, but he has neither a kind nor generous heart. Captain Skulls reminds Ameria of Luce, but only physically. The two even share the same hair color, but there's no way this heartless captain could be Luce . . . could he?
Come on. You saw The Princess Bride, didn't you? Matsuri Hino doesn't try to hide the obvious resemblance, but she makes it quite clear that Skulls is not the man Luce once was. Luce was warm and protective. Skulls is a womanizer who couldn't be any more cruel and pitiless toward Ameria.
Wanted is a standalone graphic novel. Hino indicated that she would like to write more, but the outlook isn't too bright. The first two chapters, "Captain Skulls" and "The Enemy of Pirates," work well as a cohesive whole and might even make for a good feature film. Hmm . . . movies about pirates and romance at sea. Think that'll sell? The third chapter, "The Legend of the Devil's Musical Score," functions as a new adventure, most likely because Hino wasn't planning on making an entire singular volume. The problem is that the third chapter feels rushed and certain moments are "told" instead of "shown."
Wanted, as a whole, is a very enjoyable read and would make for an excellent series should Hino ever get around to doing more. As for the art, you should be aware Hino is the author behind the popular Vampire Knight series, which means large eyes and detailed hair. Hino is a master of capturing just the right angle to convey a sense of mystery and sex appeal. However, one of her weaknesses is that her lead characters tend to resemble each other throughout her works. Ameria, Luce, and Commander Reid look very much like Yuki, Zero, and Kaname, respectively, from Vampire Knight. (Note: Hino has stated that Ameria was modeled after Aram from Merupuri.) They have the same faces. Only the hair is a bit different. It's mildly frustrating, but only to those who want to be picky about it.
But wait! There's more! This publication of Wanted also comes with a bonus manga called Spring Cherry Blossoms, a short story about a girl in the early Meiji era who falls in love with her arranged fiancé's brother. It's not one of Hino's greatest works because the relationship between the proper young lady and the scoundrel happens so suddenly, and once again, the male protagonist is cruel and aloof toward the heroine. But let's face it: Some girls always fall for the jerks.
-- Courtney Kraft