By: Matsuri Hino
Translator: Low Sin Lu
Release Date: (Original Japanese) 2005; (English) September 2, 2008
Publisher: VIZ Media
I have been on a manga buying/reading spree lately. I’m a little late to the manga scene, at least compared to my husband, and have been trying to make up for it by picking up more or less every old manga I find at used book sales. Wanted by Matsuri Hino was one such purchase. That’s right. This is a standalone manga from the creator of Vampire Knight.
Wantedis about Armeria, a young woman who is searching for her childhood friend and first love, Luce, who was captured by pirates eight years earlier. Since that day Armeria has been searching for him. When the story opens she disguises herself as a boy and joins the crew of the pirate known as Skulls, the same man who kidnapped Luce. Of course her cover is soon blown, and, well…
Look, guys. This is a shojo manga. It’s pretty obvious where the story is going.
Armeria, or Arto as she’s known to the crew, is a likable heroine. After finally finding the ship of the pirate captain who kidnapped her friend so long ago, she dresses as a boy and boards the ship. Of course, her cover gets blown soon afterwards. However overused this trope is not just in manga but in all media, the beginning of this scene was humorous and definitely used the pirate adventure setting to its full advantage.
It’s scenes like this that made me enjoy the manga despite it being predictable.
Of course, once the plot gets moving along, everything’s over. There’s no fulfilling ending. No last chapter that wraps everything up nicely. In fact, the last chapter of the manga isn’t even another chapter of Wanted. It’s a very short standalone story set in the Meiji Era. While a good story in and of itself, it is quite the jump from the 17th century Mediterranean Sea. In the end, I felt unfulfilled.
The last chapter, or the last chapter involving the characters from Wanted, only added new plot elements. Nothing was wrapped up. New characters were introduced. There wasn’t any sort of conclusion. At the same time, it wasn’t as if there was any great cliffhanger, indicating a push for a second volume some time in the future. The story just stops right when it really gets going. It felt almost like the actual last chapter was just forgotten, left out and replaced by the ending standalone chapter.
To be honest, this would have been much better off as a series. It has the potential for a lot more than it is. Sure, Armeria is a bit of stereotypical shojo heroine. She misunderstands things. She doesn’t see the obvious even when Skulls, the reader, and the rest of the pirate crew all do. And, yeah, she has to be saved a rather infuriating number of times for a single volume of manga.
But! (And it’s a big but.) She is more self-aware than many other similar characters. She readily admits that her memories of Luce are somewhat tainted now, that she’s put him on a pedestal in her memories and has trouble reconciling that with reality. That’s a lot deeper than we get from a lot of other manga’s, especially in a single volume, and I was quite happy to see it addressed.
The pirate adventure parts felt like a pirate adventure. There was misadventure. There was some swashbuckling. The pirate crew, while largely remaining anonymous background characters, are a rather loveable bunch with very varied personalities. I would have liked to see more of them, and, in longer running series, probably would have proven to be a good cast of characters.
While fun, Wanted by Matsuri Hino wasn’t without its problems. In the end it feels unfinished rather than a standalone volume. However, were more volumes to be released in the future, I’d definitely pick them up. If you like shojo manga or are a fan of Matsuri Hino’s work, pick up a copy of this manga.