Story/Art: Miyoshi Tomari
English Adaptation: Ysabet MacFarlane
Translation: JN Productions
What They Say:
Meet Maria Kawai – she’s gorgeous and whip-smart, a girl who seems to have it all. But when she unleashes her sharp tongue, it’s no wonder some consider her to be the very devil! Maria’s difficult ways even get her kicked out of an elite school, but this particular fall may actually turn out to be her saving grace… Maria’s frank nature gains her more enemies at her new school, but her angelic singing voice inadvertently catches the attention of Yusuke Kanda and Shin Meguro. Can these boys mend her hardened heart, or will they just end up getting scorched?
The cover presents a simple close-up of Maria with a look of apathy on her face, set over an explosion of roses. The title takes up at least a third of the cover, and the image itself does very little to help the book stand out. The back cover is a small image of Maria’s feet in her shoes, accompanied by more roses and a short summary of the plot. The paper used feels acceptable but not exceptional, and a few character sketches are included as extras. The translation reads smoothly, honorifics are not maintained, and the sound effects are translated in stylized text.
The art used in this volume is fairly standard fare for a Shojo series. The characters are easily distinguished and a good amount of detail is used. Backgrounds look a little flat and plain when used, but not distractingly so. Amusingly, the oddest looking character is often Maria herself. Perhaps due to her over exaggerated “beautiful” features, or perhaps simply due to how often she is drawn, she often appears slightly off, with her proportions appearing out of sync or inconsistent.
The heroine of our story starts out on a true high note: kicking an old lady sitting on a train. However, it turns out that this girl, Maria, was able to tell that the woman was a thief. When she shows up at her new school for the first time, she quickly reveals herself as almost impossibly blunt by admitting that she was expelled for beating up a teacher, and then accusing her new classmates of gossiping about her. A popular young man named Yusuke Kanda appears before Maria with a smile and tries to befriend her, but she wastes no time in saying that he’s putting on a show and isn’t really a “people person.” As her cruel words become more and more obviously on the mark, it becomes clear that she is a greatly intuitive person with a tendency to speak forth her mind without thinking of the consequences. Yusuke talks more to Maria, and eventually convinces her to be more careful with her words and actions, while his friend Shin remains distant. Of course, due to her personality Maria’s attempts at fitting in fall flat, and she soon finds herself the target of bullying for being “stuck up.” The other girls in the class shred her old uniform and hang it as flag, but Maria simply starts singing in her beautiful voice. Shin and Yusuke soon appear, lured by her song, and seem to be developing feelings for her despite her stoic nature.
The bullying of course continues to escalate around Maria, but she continues to be unfazed. While wandering around one morning, Maria notices a girl who is being called Nippachi. Maria approaches her and calls her by her real name, Tomoyo Kohsaka, and asks why she’s pretending to be a fool while secretly looking down on those around her. The other girls soon pressure Tomoyo into claiming that Maria was bullying her, but Maria simply says that Tomoyo isn’t afraid and doesn’t really care about anyone when she is questioned. The girls then have Tomoyo invite Maria to a “welcoming party,” but when Maria accuses Tomoyo of being rotten inside she snaps and pushes her down the stairs. Maria simply dusts herself off and walks into what she knows full well is a trap. As Tomoyo didn’t come, the girls realize they have nobody to victimize, and instead plan to leave Maria with a massive bill. Fortunately, before that can happen Yusuke shows up, forcing the girls to stay and pay their share.
The next day Tomoyo appears with a bandaged foot and crutch, claiming that Maria pushed her down and injured her. It of course comes out that she is lying, but the teacher appears anyway and says something terrible towards Maria. Finally fed up with what’s occurring in front of him, Shin picks up Maria (literally) and takes her to get her foot treated, realizing that she was actually injured the other day. Though they fight the entire time, Shin and Maria become closer, and Shin even ends up buying her a present and chewing her out for always apologizing.
As the volume closes, Yusuke and Maria go to check up on Tomoyo, who has been absent from school.
With a surprisingly amusing main character and a handful of interesting subplots, this book really caught me off guard. Instead of the average heroine, this book gives us one who is brutally honest to the point of being downright cruel. The result is incredibly amusing, whether she’s mentally obliterating her own bullies, or tearing down those who are attempting to help her. The character of Maria is an incredibly amusing one, and definitely one I look forward to seeing more of in the future. It will certainly be interesting to see if this series will manage to hold up to this fantastic start, as what’s presented here is surprisingly refreshing.
Content Grade: A
Art Grade: B+
Package Rating: B+
Text/Translation Rating: B
Age Rating: 13+
Released by: Viz Media
Release Date: February 7th, 2012