Author/Artist: Matsuri Hino
Publisher: VIZ Media
Rating: T+ - ages 16 and up
Genre: Shojo, Drama, Comedy, Romance, Action
*** Review originally appeared at The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society at http://liheliso.org. Check it out! ***
Pirates are hot, especially ones created by famed mangaka Matsuri Hino (mangaka behind Vampire Knight and Captive Hearts). Thanks to Johnny Depp and popularity of the Pirates of the Caribbean pirates are hip once again. Wanted was published in Japan in 2005 after original movie was released. Was that the inducement for creating a pirate manga? I don't really know, but pirates are definitely cool.
Armeria lost her family while she was young and was adopted into a traveling musical troupe. Armeria possesses a beautiful singing voice. During her travels she meets Luce, the nephew of a rich landowner, and falls in love with him. One evening while performing at their estate the infamous pirate crew led by Skulls kidnaps Luce for ransom. On that night Armeria vows that she will find and rescue Luce. She knew who she had to find due to the unique tattoo that Skulls had.
Several years pass and Armeria has located Skulls' crew. Concealing her identity Armeria joins the crew as the young cabin boy Arto. Not long after she joins the crew her cover is shot (no pun intended, she actually gets shot) and a female on board a bunch of sex-crazed is dangerous. Once her identity is discovered she asks about Luce's whereabouts and is told by Skulls that Luce is dead. Armeria isn't so easily fooled and is determined to find out what happened to him.
There is also a brief one-shot called Spring Cherry Blossoms. It takes place during the Meiji Era. Sho wants to become a doctor but because of customs her marrying a young man of an influential family comes first. She meets a young man at the bookstore. This young man is dressed in traditional Japanese dress but has on one piece of clothing that makes him stick out, a ten-gallon hat.
For a quick read with beautiful artwork Wanted is a great choice. If you want something thought provoking Spring Cherry Blossoms is definitely an interesting look into Meiji era Japan and introducing us to a story that is both similar and foreign all at once. As a whole I enjoyed Wanted as a great diversion. It's not terribly deep and it moves quickly so if you want something with teeth you might not be too impressed with it. I think that the story would have benefited more by being a series. I wish that there was more character development so we could delve more into the psyches of the characters. The revelation of what happened to Luce and the current situation comes too quickly and then things just become a tad ridiculous. The story of Wanted also doesn't really wrap up as nicely as Spring Cherry Blossoms. In the brief Afterword Hino-sensei mentions that she doesn't know if she'll continue the story of Wanted. I think that it could benefit everything greatly if sometime in the future she decided to add to it. I think that back story would be a good addition to the story.
I must say that one thing this manga has going for it is Hino-sensei's art. She is really quite gifted. From lush costuming to detailed backgrounds she definitely has some major talent. I've had the opportunity to check out some of her other works and it is just as visually amazing. VIZ is a great company to bring us her work because they bring manga titles to the masses and always present them for a reasonable price. It's no wonder that many of their titles sell a lot of copies. They are always publishing titles that they know will sell which in this economy is always important. Matsuri Hino-sensei is a mangaka that definitely appeals to a wide audience.
If you are looking for a title to distract you from reality for an hour or two set sail with Wanted! Also feel free to check out Linda Yau's earlier review for Wanted as well.
***Review Copy provided by VIZ Media***
***Reposted with permission from The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society***