Manga-ka: Matsuri Hino
Rating: Teen (13+)
Released: July 2008
Synopsis: “In the Mediterranean at end of the 17th century, former songstress Armeia disguises herself as a boy and boards the ship of the pirate Skulls, the man who kidnapped Luce, her first love. Captain Skulls is arrogant, violent, and a skirt chaser! And unfortunately for Armeria, he discovers she’s a woman…”
As a child, Armeia sang for Aristocrats with her beautiful voice. But one night she watched as pirates kidnapped her first love, Luce, and took him out to see. For years she was determined to find that ship and the Captain responsible for Luce’s abduction. She finally finds the ship and, disguised as a boy, makes her way on-board. She’s determined to save the kind-hearted Luce she remembers, only to find out he may no longer exist, if he ever had at all.
I had fun reading Wanted, a light-hearted and energetic one-shot, but I just felt it could’ve been so much more than it was. Armeria, or Arto as she goes by, didn’t really hold up as much as a strong female character and instead was a glorified damsel in distress. How are readers supposed to believe this weak, naive girl survived for years pretending to be a boy in order to find Luce? It just doesn’t make any sense. I really would’ve liked to see more of her searching years, prior to finding Skulls, but for the reason above, I can see why Matsuri Hino wouldn’t go into it past a glancing mention. I really would’ve liked to see Arto work as a more confident and capable character, instead of one completely reliant on Captain Skulls to defend her at every turn. On that note, despite the possible romance poked at between the two leads, I see Arto being more of a little sister to Skulls than ever anything else.
But for faults I found in the story, Matsuri Hino’s artwork makes it a worthwhile purchase regardless. I love the lively style, with beautiful detailing and a really energized feeling. It’s especially refreshing seeing her art looking as bright and vibrant as it was in Meru Puri, when I fell in love with it, than the darker look that her current series, Vampire Knight, has. I’m always drawn to the way she draws eyes in particular, in this case with Arto. Though I found the way they were drawn lacked consistency throughout the chapters, I still loved their wide-eyed shine. A lot of times oversized anime eyes drive me nuts, but Matsuri Hino seems to make it work!
Viz also published this book in a nice little package, with a notably attractive job on the front and back covers. I really like their work on the Wanted logo and the colour printing is really sharp and eye-catching. The interior translation was good, though I sometimes found the pirate speech a little forced. Then again, the pirates themselves weren’t the most piratey-pirates ever, so maybe a little awkward speech suited them.
Also included at the back of the book is a short story about a young woman from the Meiji Era who falls in love at first sight with a strangely dressed man, only to discover she’s betrothed to his brother. It was a fairly sweet story but the lack of character depth given to the male lead coupled with a sudden clichéd ending made it a little hard to take seriously.
Fans of Matsuri Hino’s art would do well to pick up Wanted for sure, and other shoujo readers would probably enjoy it as well. I felt the writing fell rather flat, and victim to cliché, but there’s enough fun here to make it an enjoyable romanticized sail on the seven seas none the less.