Welcome readers to another installment of Manga Hermit! In an attempt to counterbalance the sheer amount of testosterone radiating from the flick about one of the most dysfunctional superhero teams to ever exist, this week’s issue is going to be sweet - Soap drama sweet. Passion, lust, desire; all of that and more will parade in front of your eyeballs till you’re itching for another marathon of Tenga Toppa Gurren Lagann. This issue’s drama fest centerpiece – Suna no Shiro, also known as The Sandcastle!
Well readers, we’ve finally made it to March. And unless you live in the Southern Hemisphere, you can be sure that sooner or later we will all experience that moment when we know that spring is here. Whether it’s the sign of color returning to the frozen wasteland, or realizing that sixty-degree weather is too hot for a parka, we all know when spring arrives. You know what tells me that spring is here?
Aside from getting intimate with a box of Puffs?
MARRIAGES! While a bit sappy, marriages are the best scenes of spring hands down. Two individuals staring a new journey together, supporting each other as they face all the challenges and obstacles that life throws their way. Just like a bud or a sapling, breaking though the hard earth – ah, what a beautiful sentiment. Of course the bond between the bride and groom has to be strong; otherwise everything about the marriage will just fall apart. Unfortunately for Takanashi Chiwa, she doesn’t have that luxury.
Having to pay off the crippling debts her father incurred on a business venture, Ms. Chiwa is office lady by day, part-time hostess at night. Barely making enough to cover the housing for her and her father, things take a turn for the worst when she retaliates against a customer named Mamiya Hokuto for …calling her out on her crappy lifestyle. Having no idea of the ramifications of her actions (and subsequently being fired from her part time gig) she goes to work the next day, only to be called up to the president’s office. Upon her arrival, Chiwa realizes that the president is the crass customer she threw whiskey at the night before!
You get what you reap, Chiwa. Jack Daniels has no pity on those who dishonor his brethren. Even those below him.
Preparing for the worst, she is shocked to find that he is also accompanied by his grandfather – the patriarch of the Mamiya family. Chiwa is even more shell-shocked when she is told that the Mamiya family will pay off her father’s debts, due to a favor owed to Chiwa’s deceased grandmother. The catch, you ask? Well… the patriarch would like some great grandkids from another one of his possible heirs.
Because adoption is so passé’ these days.
And so begins the newlywed life between Chiwa and Hokuto. Will they find a love so pure between each other that no soap opera can compare? Or will they fight and potshot each other while stumbling through a relationship filled with so many mixed signals, you would think Zoro was the captain of this Love Boat?
Hapi Mari, also known as Happy Marriage, is the brain child of Enjouji Maki. It made its debut in the Josei magazine Petit Comic back in 2009 and is still going strong. A fairly strong romance manga, Hapi Mari has the pull of a soap opera while not overwhelming the reader with lust and heavy theatrics. The series strangely maintains a lighter theme than what one would expect from such a plot line. This may be due to the lack of “difficult” obstacles between our two love birds. The art style of Hapi Mari is simplistic in its execution. Compared with other mangas with heavy tones and high detail, Hapi Mari keeps its style light and easy, without losing the perspective of either the characters or the environment. This style belies the lightness of the story being told.
Character wise, Hapi Mari has all the basic archetypes found in a drama: backstabbing family members, dotting patriarch, ex-wives and ex-classmates that act as possible love interests, convoluted familial bonds, etc… Chiwa is the airhead heroine of our tale – plucky and determined, but has a tendency to cry before solving the issue at hand. Hokuto is the jackass businessman, who swears that the relationship will be professional, but it’s a drama –he falls in love eventually. It’s rare when they don’t.
Still, Hapi Mari caught my eye because of its ease to read. I won’t say you will be taking gasps with every page, but it wouldn’t hurt to take a look, no?
An older release, from earlier last week, but I have to cover it for the sake of completion... and because it's Sawa-chan we're talking about.
Release Date: 2010 June 23rd
CD Length: 17 minutes, 35 seconds; 4 tracks (2 vocal, 2 instrumental)
Bootleg Tabs: "Love" [Full] Pro Tab by satofuku