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February 2, 2015

Bento Bako Weekly: Meteor Prince volume 1

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Written by: Kristin
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meteorprince1Title: Meteor Prince
Author: Meca Tanaka
Publisher: Viz Media (Shojo Beat)
Volume: Volume 1, $9.99
Vintage: 2013 by Hakusensha, January 2015 by Viz
Genre: Romantic comedy

And I’m back! This time with a new manga from Viz Media. Many thanks to Drew for filling in while I ran around doing conventions and breaking toes and dealing with the puppy. By the way, if you live in the DFW area of North Texas, be sure to swing by Dallas Fan Days February 7-8 at the Irving Convention Center. It’s gonna be fun! Now on to the manga!

Hako Natsuno is known as the “Queen of Bad Luck.” Misfortune follows her everywhere she goes. When she goes outside, it rains. When she walks underneath a classroom window, a trashcan falls on her head. Her sandal straps break, huge waves overcome her in the ocean, and large objects fall in her vicinity. Because of the regular accidents that surround her, Hako is avoided by all but the bravest of her classmates – the three members of the Occult Research Club, who have become her best friends. While trying to summon an entity to remove Hako’s bad luck, the club president apparently summons an alien from the planet Yupita. This alien, Io, claims to have traveled all the way to Earth to meet his fated mate, and that mate is Hako. To ensure strong offspring, Yupitians travel the galaxy to find a partner of their same wavelength and mate with them. Of course, Hako isn’t about to get down and dirty with a strange, naked alien who just appeared out of nowhere. Neither is Io going to give up on the reason he’s come to Earth. Hako insists she couldn’t possibly consider mating with someone she wasn’t in love with, so Io decides, of course, that they’ll fall in love. With help from the club president, Io starts learning all about Earth relationships. Io is very enthusiastic, but he frequently blunders about and makes plenty of mistakes. He certainly tries hard, but perhaps the most important thing is that he’s not at all put off by Hako’s bad luck. Io is stronger than humans, with regenerative capabilities, and he can also absorb data from other beings. With this data he can utilize the traits of other creatures; for example, he frequently sprouts bird wings so he can fly. This means he’s nearly impervious to whatever Hako’s misfortune can dish out, and he’s even able to protect her from the worst of it. Just as Hako starts falling hard for Io, another Yupitian appears – Argo, Io’s personal assistant. Argo arrives with some important news – somehow Io’s heart stone has malfunctioned. He was never supposed to arrive on Earth, and Hako isn’t his destined mate.

This one is better than I expected based on its synopsis. I figured it would be either ridiculous and dumb, or ridiculous and sappy. Turns out it’s rather cute, if aimed at an age group a good bit lower than mine. I really think I’m getting too old for most shojo series these days. The bulk of them are romantic comedies centered around high schoolers, and I graduated high school, well, a while ago. These stories don’t really connect with me anymore, unless there are elements that make them particularly stand out (like how Oresama Teacher leaves me rolling with laughter). For someone younger, say a girl (or a boy!) in their mid-teens, even into the early 20s, a title like Meteor Prince is likely to resonate more. Unfortunately there aren’t exactly plenty of titles out there for readers around my age (not to say they can’t enjoy a title like this, because I know some do, but I’m personally leaning away from them more often these days). Of course, you want to know what makes Meteor Prince worth reading (or not worth reading), not how long ago I was a teenage girl, or the plight of the older manga reader.

Well, like I said, it’s cute. It has a lot of energy that makes the book a quick, fun read. There are some over-the-top silly moments, of course. Hako’s bad luck is truly bizarre, but for the moment it’s a nice running gag. Io has a childlike innocence about literally everything he comes into contact with, and sometimes you wonder if he’s ever left his home planet before in his life (he has, or at least he’s picked up abilities from other species). It’s charming at times, like when he’s surrounded by animals and learning about the world from them. But unfortunately he’s learning about human emotions (specifically love) and social norms from shojo manga, and you can imagine how that turns out. There is one little idiosyncrasy that bothers me about Io, and this is how incredibly cheerful and carefree he is. Argo is pretty specific about how important Io is to their people – not only is he a Prince, he heads a warrior clan, and his planet is located in the midst of a galactic war zone. There are glimpses of this, but for the most part it’s difficult to believe he comes from such a place or holds such a position. His journey to Earth isn’t just about finding a mate, it’s about making his clan stronger, and were this not a shojo manga, he likely wouldn’t be with Hako. A tiny, weak looking, extremely clumsy girl, who actually isn’t his soul mate? What great warrior leader would choose her? Only in shojo, folks. Hako is a trooper, though. She puts up with a lot of flak – not just her never ending streak of (occasionally quite harmful) bad luck, but she’s also rather ostracized from her school mates who don’t want to get caught up in it. Fortunately the occult club seems to know no fear. Unfortunately, at least in this volume, they’re such hardcore sidekicks. They look like fun, so hopefully they’re utilized more in future volumes. I will say this for the series – Io has potential to get really creepy really quickly, but he doesn’t at all. He’s patient, enthusiastic, eager to learn, and completely willing to take the necessary steps to form a proper relationship with Hako. He actually reminds me a bit of Night from Absolute Boyfriend. If you’re in the demographic for this one, there’s no reason not to take a look. If you’re rather above the demographic, you might want to look elsewhere.


Review copy provided by Viz Media.



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