Tag Archives: Matsuri Hino

Captive Hearts (manga)

Mangaka: Matsuri Hino/Translator: Andria Cheng

Status: Complete (5 volumes)

My rating: 3.5 of 5

Megumi Kuroishi has been living the unconcerned life of a rich boy in the mansion bequeathed to his father when the masters of the house, the Kogami family, disappeared somewhere in China when Megumi was just a little boy. But his life is turned upside down when it is discovered that the young heiress Suzuki, the Kogamis’ daughter, survived and has been found–and is returning to the house in Japan. Because there’s something Megumi’s father has neglected to mention to him . . . the entire Kuroishi family has been cursed ages ago by the Dragon God to always serve the Kogami family. Let’s just say that he finds out most awkwardly, finding himself strangely drawn to Suzuka and going into weird, protective “manservant fits” if he looks into her eyes too long. Awkward for everyone concerned, especially since Suzuka is not the “young mistress” sort, having lived as a commoner in China for most of her life. As the two spend more time together, however, they are drawn to ask–is there something more than an ancient curse going on between the two of them? Because it sure seems like they’re falling in love.

Here in Captive Hearts we have the very first serialized manga by the author of the esteemed Vampire Knight. And yeah, it’s pretty obvious that this is a first manga. It’s relatively unplanned feeling, and the art goes through some pretty massive changes (improvements) over the course of the series. Having said that, it’s also pretty obviously the work of Hino-sensei, and if you like her work, there really is a lot to appreciate here. The art, while still developing, is still her distinctive style, and by the end of the series, it’s actually quite pretty. She does a great job of playing with themes in the chapter covers and manages to craft a style for the panels themselves that fits the shoujo yet goofy style of the story. And that’s where this story is so unique and likely to produce either a love or a hate reaction in its readers. Because it’s distinctly a shoujo romance story–fate, forbidden love, master/servant relationship, unlikely heroine, the whole gamut. But at the same time, even the mangaka acknowledges that it’s a silly story. It was really intended as a one-shot to begin with, so the whole premise is pretty absurd. And while you do get some solid character and plot development (including some nice flashbacks to the whole Dragon God story), the unlikeliness and silliness do continue firmly throughout the story. But it’s a comedic romance, so it kind of works. I enjoy the story, in any case. I would mostly recommend Captive Hearts to those who enjoy comedy/romance shoujo stories or Hino-sensei’s works in particular. (Although again, in some ways this is pretty different from Vampire Knight. More similar to Meru Puri, although even that has a lot more maturity to the writing.)

Note: It’s notable that the Shojo Beat physical copies of this manga also include several interesting one-shots of Hino’s, mostly, again, cute romance stories.

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Meru Puri

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?!

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