REVIEW:  Harlequin Manga Reviews Take 2: The Good, and the Bad and Ugly

REVIEW: Harlequin Manga Reviews Take 2: The Good, and the...



Never Kiss a Stranger by Madeleine Kerr and Mayu Kasumi.Retail: $7.99.Rated T for Teen, 12 and up, lots of sweet kisses only.1 of 1 volumes.D.

Three Wishes by Darlene Scalera and Matsuri Akino.Retail: $7.99.Rated T for Teen, 12 and up, lots of sweet kisses only.1 of 1 volumes. Based upon A Man for Megan, 1999.B+ for young girls and for older readers. (Oh, and I just noticed these books are selling for $6.39 at eHarlequin.You can’t beat that!)

Dear Harlequin,

*sigh*No, no, and no.I read the second of my Harlequin Pink purchases, Never Kiss a Stranger.Aside from the annoying visuals (more about that later), I noticed the story seemed decidedly … dated.I looked at the copyright.MMCLXXXV.22 years old.One of those misunderstood CEO novels.Just what a modern girls wants.< /sarcasm>I know, I know, some stories are timeless.But this ain’t one of them.This story was dated when it was written.

The heroine is a companion to a wealthy romance author, and they’re traveling inEurope(Aside: I didn’t know you ladies lived in such an extravagent style!).She awakens one night to find a burglar in their suite, but upon seeing her the thief only steals a kiss.Later, on the cruise ship they suddenly find themselves on (because I could have sworn they were in a hotel in Nice) she realizes the thief was none other than the fabulously rich owner of the ship, who is not only a rich cruise director, he’s also a genius engineer airplane designer CEO *and* a Russian prince (now defunct). …Bwahahahaha!

OK, so let me talk about the art.In romance manga, art is pretty important.I’ll admit I’m shallow, but judging from covers of romance novels, “pretty” is a part of the fantasy.Emaciated is not.Nor is malformed.The women in this manga are drawn with painfully thin features.The older ones looked like corpses.The younger ones looked like fresher corpses.Whenever I looked at them, I was reminded of lemur skulls.The hero had worse problems.For some reason, the eye further away from the reader was always drawn larger than the one closer.Either his eyebrow was perpetually raised by that accident he had as a youth falling into rice picker (nerd joke), or aside from being a wealthy CEO genius thief and prince, he was also descended from Herr Frankenstein’s lab assistant.And to add insult to injury, he always looked cross-eyed.So we have a dead lemur kissing cross-eyed Igor Jr and I’m supposed to be entranced?

Stranger_sample_1 Stranger_sample_2

(As usual, pages are read right to left; these are 2 separate samples.)

Let’s be candid here.*looks at previous paragraphs*OK, well, let’s continue to be candid.Someone at Harlequin has the right idea.A Prince Needs a Princess is a great little manga to get younger girls interested in your brand.It had a lot of things going for it, a fun story, nice art, the feeling that it’s not your grandmother’s romance.This one however was a step backwards, the complete opposite, where everything just went wrong.Please tell me it’s an aberration.I really don’t want to have to go through this again.Igor’s evil eye is going to haunt me long enough as it is.

I pick up the next volume with trepidation.

… And am completely thrilled.You restored my faith in you.To be honest, the first thing I did when I looked at Three Wishes was check out the original copyright.1999.Good.Full speed ahead.

This manga was so CUTE!It was sweet, and funny, and the characters were both adorable and sexy.Everyone looked a bit more real in this book than your average shoujo, though of course Gino with his cat eyes and pointed ears was exotically lovely.So yes, you get the bishounen thumbs up from me.(bishounen = pretty boy in Japanese).The art is perfect for a romance.

I think this is my favorite manga of yours so far. I loved the plot and the humor that was included.

Megan buys an old crockpot at a garage sale for $2.She gets home and cleans it up and plugs it in, and low and behold Gregor the Slow Cooker Genie appears (evidently he had a master in his past who was a writer with a sense of humor).He’s lived hundreds of years, which only confirms my thoughts about crockpots by the way, and he has only to grant wishes for 2000 people before he’s free.Megan is number 2000.

Of course, Megan doesn’t believe in it at first so she doesn’t wish right away, then when she does believe she doesn’t have wishes.Gregor (renamed Gino by Megan at one point) spends time trying to show her what she could have, and she tries to explain that happiness doesn’t come from what he’s offering but from the heart, and the one thing he can’t grant is love.In the meantime they start kind of liking each other.


Doesn’t that page just make you say “Awwwwwwwwww.”?

Outside interferences come along in the form of her accountant fiance Elliott and his mean mother, in Megan’s company which is on the verge of collapsing and ruining the small town she’s living in, and from a dastardly plot that only Megan and Gino can stop.Of course, Gino has a good old time taking care of all of these things, and the ending is a touching one showing how much both of them have learned about love.

It was just a sweet read that had me laughing and smiling through it all.I even hunted down a couple of Ms. Scalera’s books, including the original for this story.I think romance lovers of all ages would get a kick out of this one.

So, one D, one B+. They’re great examples of what not to do, and what to keep on doing. The Japanese have a word, ganbatte, which means “good luck, forge ahead, do your best”. They use it to urge each other on to success. Harlequin, ganbatte ne!