Harelequin manga might be a little bit on the disposable side – I don’t know if I’ve read any that I know I’d want to reread but I’m just getting over a cold and there is really no better manga to read while you have a stuffy head. So here are quick takes on two Harlequin manga that have the word Cinderella in their titles. One manga was good, and one was not so good.
Cynthia has worked as the personal secretary to the patriarch of a rich family, Alfred Wingate. She’s engaged to his womanizing grandson Graham, but decides that she has to call the engagement off because Graham is a pathological cheater. Things get complicated when Alfred dies and leaves his mansion to Cynthia, along with the qualification that she can’t give the mansion back to the WIngate family. If she doesn’t take it, it has to go to charity. Graham’s long lost brother Rick shows up for the reading of the will, and promptly decides that Cynthia is a scheming woman who got close to his family in order to grab her share of the Wingate fortune.
The quality of these Harlequin manga can be erratic. Sometimes they are good in a brain candy type of way, but other times they really seem rushed. Some of the transitions between scenes in The Cinderella Inheritance seemed a little jerky and the plot elements were introduced randomly, without a real connection to the character’s emotions or backgrounds. I’m never entirely sure if these execution problems are due to issues with the adaptation or the source material because let’s face it, we’re talking about harlequin romance novels here. Of course, Rick and Cynthia fall in love with each other while she’s jugging the expectations of the Wingates that she marry Graham so the mansion will stay in the family. Of course she’s just a good girl who is working her way for college, and while Rick is initially suspicious he finds himself falling in love with her despite his better judgment. I didn’t find Ito’s character designs very appealing, and the art was static. The characters just seemed like paper dolls put through the paces to satisfy a fairly predictable plot.
This title is skipable, but I enjoyed the other Harlequin Manga with Cinderella in the title much much more.
The Cinderella Solution by Kyoko Sagara and Cathy Yardly
Charlotte and Gabe are best friends. She’s a bit of a tomboy and she goes along with Gabe to all of his typical guy-like activities like poker and football games. He even takes her out to a bachelor party right before she’s supposed to be the maid of honor at his sister’s wedding. They constantly compete with each other by making stupid bets. Charlotte has a bit of a psychological complex where she thinks of herself as unfeminine, which is absolutely ridiculous because Sagara draws her as a classic shoujo heroine with shining eyes and glossy hair. I guess the thing that signals that she isn’t very girly is the fact that she always has her hair pulled back in a ponytail.
I’ve decided that I enjoy these Harlequin manga the most when the art is extra super-girly and this manga didn’t disappoint in that category. Take a look at the cover where our cute couple is surrounded by both roses and weird blobby sparkly things. The character designs are cute, with bee-stung lips and perfect hair. The only odd thing is that Sagara tends to draw her men with extra long eyebrows, which sometimes gave Gabe a vaguely insectoid appearance. But, unlike the flat personalities in the previous manga, The Cinderella Solution really takes the time to establish the bickering relationship between Gabe and Charlotte. She’s in agony performing her bridesmaid duties at the wedding and Gabe is the master of casually cruel comments like “Do you think Charlotte is the wife type? She’ll be just fine single for the rest of her life.” Goaded beyond her limits, Charlotte bets Gabe $1000 that she’ll find someone to propose marriage to her in a month. She embarks on a makeover campaign, and soon finds a potential suitor when an eligible bachelor moves next door. Gabe is surprised by his growing feelings of jealousy as he sees other men notice his best friend. Charlotte uses the bet as a way of gaining more self confidence, and Gabe is soon confronted with the decision that he might have to give up platonic friendship for romance or lose her forever.
The Cinderella Solution was an enjoyable read simply because the characters were more fully developed, so I was interested in seeing the conclusion of their story. I tend to like romances more when some funny moments are incorporated, so I appreciated Charlotte inadvertently introducing herself to her neighbor while wearing a mud pack on her face and Gabe’s unique approach to formal wear when he goes to spy on Charlotte and her wanna-be boyfriend at a party. This was definitely a better than average Harlequin manga title.
Access to electronic copies provided by the publisher