Archives for February 2014

Dawn of the Arcana Vols 11 and 12

Dawn of the Arcana Vol 11 by Rei Toma

Dawn of the Arcana is a series that I think is best experienced in mini bursts of 2 or 3 volumes, simply due to the deliberate pace of the storytelling in the manga, as well as the fact that it sometimes takes a half volume or so for my brain to kick in with my memories about what happened in the previous volume due to all the relationships developing and the shifting nature of the geopolitical situations happening in Toma’s world. Usually I’m far too impatient to let the volumes pile up like this though!

After 10 volumes, the new status quo for red haired socially outcast with alarming powers of precognition Princess Nakaba and formerly arrogant but really a nice guy who has a social conscience inspired by the power of love Prince Caesar is to be separated. Nakaba has returned to Senan, determined to do some ruling in her own right, and Caesar is back in his home country of Belquat, dealing with his evil family. This volume shows the emotional impact of Nakaba’s power, the Arcana of Time, as she is determined to save the outcast child of a village that is in the direct path of an avalanche. This becomes a story that further explores the position of the humanoid animal hybrid race called ajin, as Lala the child with bunny ears is actually the product of a human/ajin encounter, leading to her abandonment. Lala has one human friend, and Nakaba’s ever present ajin protector Loki is there to save the day as always.

Loki always seems to have a new revelation every few volumes, either about his emotions or background, and a secret is revealed in this volume that shows that he and Nakaba have even more in common than I previously thought. While there’s the more conventional romantic storyline with Caesar and Nakaba, I actually find Nakaba’s relationship with Loki much more interesting, as they trade off protector duties in unexpected ways. Nakaba decides to take power in her home country, and her choices are largely driven by wanting to prevent Loki from going too far for her.

Dawn of the Arcana Vol 12 by Rei Toma

Everything keeps zipping along, as now that Nakaba and Caesar are in power in their respective countries, they have a chance to finally see each other again, when Caesar is ordered to invade Senan. Nakaba’s been looking in on Caesar and remarks that he’s going to start a revolution, so she’s “Here to lend a hand.” Nakaba’s power also provides Toma with a great way of providing more backstory about her characters. Nakaba looks back at Caesar’s father when he was young, even though Loki warns her that it might be difficult for her to see because she’s “too kind”. Nakaba sees King Guran’s first meeting with his unconventional first queen, the commoner Sara. The unhappy ending of this romance provides a reason for why King Guran might have ended up so twisted and bitter, but it doesn’t prevent a confrontation that is sure to cause even more fallout to happen in the volumes ahead.

One of the things that I really like about the art in this series is that it is so clear and easy to read. Toma might not have the most intricate backgrounds or innovative approach to paneling, but I’m never left puzzled about action scenes or finding that I have to go back and reread a page to make sure I understand the sequencing. The wordless exchanges between Nakaba and Caesar and the sidelong glances between Loki and Caesar do more to express the tensions between the characters than several pages of dialog. Overall, these were two very solid volumes in a fantasy series that is always surprising me with unexpected depths. I’m looking forward to the next few volumes to see what will become of Nakaba, Caesar, and Loki (well, really mostly Loki).

Harlequin Manga: The Tycoon’s Pregnant Mistress and Her Sheikh Boss

The Tycoon’s Pregnant Mistress by Maya Banks and Nanao Hidaka


The Tycoon’s Pregnant Mistress manages to hit some sort of Harlequin manga trifecta, because the pregnant mistress in question gets cast off, kidnapped, and develops amnesia in the first 30 pages! The woman with the eventful life is Marley, and her boss is a slightly dimwitted Greek tycoon named Chrysander. Marley finds out that she’s pregnant and attempts to have a meaningful talk about their relationship with Chrysander, only to be shut down and promptly kicked out when Chrysander discovers top secret business documents in Marley’s handbag only minutes after his extremely suspicious secretary pays him a visit at their home. While he might be successful in business, Chrysander has very little insight into human nature, as he kicks Marley out onto the street, where she is immediately scooped up by kidnappers, appearing four months later in an advanced stage of pregnancy!

Chrysander is very suspicious of his pregnant former mistress who has amnesia, but he is determined to Do the Right Thing and decides that he’s going to take care of her and her child. Marley attempts to get her memories back, all the while being slightly bewildered by the continued presence of Chrysander’s skanky secretary and his distant nature. The art for this title is about average for a Harlequin manga, it is attractive despite some slightly odd proportions, and while it doesn’t have the lush 80s retro vibe that I tend to love the most in these manga adaptations, everyone’s hair is glossy and there is a profusion of brooding greek tycoons.

Her Sheikh Boss by Carol Culver and Earithen


The story for this manga is fairly predictable, but I really enjoyed the art for this title, which had a loose sophisticated style that reminded me a bit of Walkin’ Butterfly. Claudia is a highly efficient secretary working in the United States for Samir, the prince of a country in the Middle East. She’s indispensible for his business, and he decides to take her along when he goes home to his country. Samir tends to view Claudia as an efficient piece of furniture, and when Claudia goes on her trip she is profoundly dismayed to find out that her boss his traveling back to his family in order to get engaged!

Claudia has developed a secret crush on her boss, and she struggles with her feelings as his family regards her with suspicion. As Claudia visits Samir’s country he begins to see her as a woman for the first time, as she throws herself into new experiences with enthusiasm. His fiancee seems very unenthusiastic, perhaps due to the handsome male servant that follows her about wherever she goes. The art captures Claudia’s transformations and shifts in moods easily and there’s plenty of billowing hair and the occasional camel. While the illustrations aren’t necessarily very detailed, there’s more variation with the paneling and I found myself just as entertained by the art as the story. The complications that keep Samir and Claudia are resolved nicely, and overall I found myself pleasantly entertained.