Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Tales of Wedding Rings
Ten years ago, Satou witnessed his friend Hime suddenly emerging from a portal between worlds in the woods near his apartment building. That memory largely fell by the wayside as the two grew closer, but when Hime suddenly announces that she has to go back to her country to get married, Satou realizes what that must mean. Refusing to give up on her, he follows Hime through the portal only to find that she's actually Princess Krystal of a different world – and that the man she gives her special Ring of Light will become the Ring King who is not only her husband, but also the savior of all the lands. This is one twist in his childhood friend romance that Satou never saw coming…
No, this is not a manga spin-off of one of the numerous “Tales of” video games. Even creator Maybe is a little embarrassed about how similar to that franchise his manga's title is, but he assures us that it's merely a similar combination of ordinary words. It's an appropriate combination, however – the main plot device that will drive the action going forward is a ring, or rather, five sets of them. Entrusted to the rulers of five nations following a disastrous invasion attempt by the King of the Abyss hundreds of years ago, the rings are now the simultaneous symbols and blessings of the royal families to the next hero, who will appear when the Abyss King returns once more. Of course, by “appear” the royal families were more thinking “is chosen by someone for politically advantageous purposes,” so they're surprised when Princess Krystal returns with a young man in tow…and as a matter of fact, so is she.
That man, or boy, really, since he's only sixteen, is Satou, the protagonist of the story. Ten years ago he was in the woods when a mysterious portal opened up and Krystal, calling herself Hime, stepped out, accompanied by her grandfather. He brought her to our world as a form of protection, not just because she's a princess, but also to keep the two wedding rings of light she possessed safe. Satou, either by magical or other means, forgot where Hime really came from as they grew closer and, unbeknownst to each other, fell in love. When, just as Satou was gearing up to confess, Hime announced that she was returning home to get married, Satou recalled the circumstances of their first meeting, and chased after her rather than lose her forever. As a result, Hime gives Satou the other ring in her set instead of the prince of a neighboring kingdom, thus electing Satou to be the hero of the tale.
In a nice change of pace, Prince Marse is perfectly happy with this turn of events. Not only is he impressed that Satou would jump dimensions for the girl he loves, but he also really didn't want the pressure and responsibility of being the Ring King. He's also totally willing to help Satou in any way he can, setting the two up to be friends rather than rivals for the girl's affections, which looks good for the future of the romance plotline. Looking less positive is the fact that there are four more rings belonging to four more girls, and Satou will have to “marry” them all to get all of the power he'll need to defeat the Abyss King. This is, however, only marginally concerning, since Hime makes it clear that this is only a ceremonial marriage, mentioning this fact on several occasions. That she and Satou want it to be official seems to be fine with everyone, and while she's less than thrilled about these other ladies, this may turn out to be more of a harem in name only. There's also the fact that Maybe mentions that his initial concept involved more than one male protagonist, each with his own heroine, so Marse may take one of the princesses off of his hands romance-wise.
This is a good thought, because the love story aspect is very sweet and doesn't rush things. There's a nice mutuality to Hime's and Satou's feelings, and while they want to confirm their feelings for each other, there's also an acknowledgement that this new stage of their relationship is confusing and a bit awkward. They don't want to let their new status muck up the friendship that they previously enjoyed, and that feels like a good way to build sexual tension while still maintaining an emotional component to the couple going forward. It also makes the fanservice fall more into the teasing category. Although Hime's skirt is ludicrously short and she keeps her blouse mostly unbuttoned, it feels more like a stylistic choice than gratuitous shots of her body, and we do see Satou fully or partially naked at points as well, balancing things out. Maybe does draw a nice body, whether male or female, and if faces can look a little marble-eyed, that's mostly easily overlooked, especially since he does such a good job with Satou's body language as he tries to adjust to his new predicament.
As some readers may have noticed, this is the author's second title to be released in English. Vertical is translating To the Abandoned Sacred Beasts, and it's worth noting that at this point, the two series have very little in common. Tales of Wedding Rings is much more lighthearted and romance-oriented than the alternate history of the other title, and probably shares more with Maybe's Dusk maiden of Amnesia, the anime adaptation of which was also released in English, although sadly not the source manga as of this writing. If nothing else, a look at all three titles shows a versatility on Maybe's part that is fairly impressive.
Tales of Wedding Rings' first volume introduces us to a fantasy romance that has a fair amount of potential. That that positive potential is tempered with the possibility for it to turn into a rote harem story is concerning, but that may be alleviated in the second book. This one, however, is both a sweet romance and an interesting adventure, and if you like that combination of genres, this is worth checking out.
Overall : B
Story : B
Art : B
+ Nice character relationships, fanservice doesn't feel gratuitous, good use of body language
Full encyclopedia details about
Release information about
|discuss this in the forum (10 posts) ||