Mangaka: Matsuri Hino
All Airi Hoshina has ever dreamed of is a simple, everyday happiness with a normal husband and a quiet life. That all blows up in her face (naturally) when Aram–a magical prince from another world–shows up on her doorstep with no place to go . . . and a rather troublesome curse on him. Even though Aram is really just a kid (several years younger than Airi in any case), he becomes (in body, not mind) older when he is exposed to darkness, probably about 17 or 18. In this older body, he also becomes unable to use his magic with any accuracy. And of course, the only thing that can change him back to his true form is a kiss from his chosen maiden–who else but Airi?! Initially, it seems he’s just being childish and picking her arbitrarily, but as events unfold, it becomes clear that Aram truly loves Airi beyond what seems possibly for his years–to the point of staking his life on their relationship. What unfolds is not quite the quiet life of Airi’s dreams, but it certainly is a fairy-tale romance.
From the well-loved creator of Vampire Knight comes a softer, sweeter tale of pure-hearted love and frilly fantasy. Meru Puri is a manga that I absolutely love and come back to frequently. The characters are great: Airi, the natural sort of idiot with her long, curly hair, ditziness, but with a stubborn solidness to her also; Aram, the oh-so-princely, pushy, demanding, sulky, yet also kind and protective (have I mentioned perverted? Some of the scenes in this manga are pretty erotic, and it’s mostly Aram’s fault. Well, that and Hino-sensei’s editor’s fault.). I like the plot a lot also–it’s short (only 4 volumes) and tightly written, but full of twists and surprises. Definitely never boring. It could have been nasty and shota if it were written just a bit differently, but because of Aram’s character, it’s just kind of weird and ecchi at parts. But cute, definitely cute, and very romantic. I especially loved: 1) the fact that marriage in Aram’s world is such a big commitment that breaking that vow is literally risking your life, and 2) that Aram and Airi waited until Aram reached his majority to formalize and culminate their marriage–so much more romantic and pure-hearted that way! Of course, Hino-sensei’s art is some of the most beautiful in the industry, so this manga is also gorgeous. For fans of sweet romance manga who don’t mind a bit of eroticism, Meru Puri is one I would highly recommend.
Note: This is purely trivia, but the evolution of this manga’s name cracks me up. In the original Japanese editions, it was titled Märchen Prince (like, in German and English). So why, in the English edition, is it called Meru Puri–the short form of the kana pronunciation of the original title?!