Natsuna Kawase – CMX – 2009 – 2 volumes
Because I said I liked this better than Tale of an Unknown Country, I decided to put my money where my mouth is and finish up the series. Well, that and I’m also trying to read all my backlogged CMX volumes, because every single one of them is great. I’m nearly caught up, and have about seven or so left to read.
Anyway. I don’t really have that much to say about this book, for a change. It’s good, but it’s good because it’s a simple shoujo story that’s upbeat, adorable, and has strong characters that work well together. I liked that the main conflict at the end of the second volume was Radi feeling conflicted over whether he should accept help. Usually problems in series like this are simplified to a ridiculous degree, but in this case, you can see what Radi is trying to do, and you can see what Miel is trying to do too, and it’s understandable that he would be torn. There’s no real right or wrong in his situation, it’s just a problem with a few different solutions he’s working through.
I also liked that it was plot-driven rather than romance-driven. The main couple is there doing their thing, but their relationship is not the source of conflict. Ever. The politics in their magical world wind up making the climax of the story, and I loved that all of Miel’s development and hard work really paid off in the end in far more than just a romantic way.
Basically, if you’re looking for a cute, short, simple shoujo series with a little romance and a little fantasy, then this is it. For sure. I’m really surprised by how much I enjoyed this. It’s no classic or anything, but in the world of series that last for two volumes, it’s certainly near the top of the list.
Natsuna Kawase – CMX – 2009 – 2 volumes
I had heard good things about this series, and since it’s only two volumes long, I decided to pick it up last time I saw it on sale. I’m glad I did. It’s rare for me to like shoujo series that seems aimed at a younger audience (I’m shocked to find out this ran in LaLa DX), and this one is definitely a squeaky-clean episodic romance with all the usual shoujo ingredients.
The characters are what makes it stand out, and what made it an unusual joy to read, at least for me. With the fairly familiar scenario of a prince who disguises himself and gets to know the heroine, who also happens to be a huge fan of the prince of the country, we get a little spice from the prince who’s very upbeat and entirely pleased with his position and a strong heroine who isn’t afraid to speak her opinion and still feel self-conscious about her weaknesses. Their budding romance goes from a friendly encounter in the first chapter to a love confession at the end of the second to a near-steady relationship in the third. And somehow it doesn’t feel rushed.
I liked how the chapters also kept the stories fresh, too. I was afraid that Radi would always run into Miel while sneaking away from his guardian while trying to investigate a crime. But that only happens in the first story. He sneaks away specifically for a day out with Miel in the second story, and in the third runs into her at school and the two spend the day together. All the chapters do focus on the two of them hanging out and having a good time, but a more serious, over-arching plot would seem a bit out of place in the middle of all the simple fun.
I was disappointed that, instead of a fourth chapter, there was an unrelated story called “Daisy Romance” at the end of the volume. While I’m not too sure what the title has to do with anything, when I figured out that the story was about a phantom thief, I was just waiting for someone to mention how he stole the heroine’s heart. That was the grand finale. I… I think it made me like the story a little more. It was a good story anyway though, with a decent plot and fair number of twists. It was basic fare, so nothing too surprising, but it was well-executed, just like the rest of the book.
I liked it. I liked it a lot more than the standard fluffy shoujo read. It won’t ever be one of my favorites, or a real classic, but you could do far worse than Lapis Lazuli Crown, especially if you have a taste for cute, inoffensive, storybook shoujo. Good for kids, I think, too.