Wanted by Matsuri Hino (Graphic Novel)
By Matsuri Hino
English version published by TR Media Entertainment, LLC (2010)
Although Matsuri Hino may be better known with the manga MeruPuri and Vampire Knight, I have never read both of them. Wanted is the first of the mangaka’s piece that I have ever read. Wanted takes late 17th century Europe – where corrupted aristocrats and pillaging pirates were abound – as its backdrop.
Armeria was an orphan who was blessed with a very beautiful voice. She grew up with a musical troupe and travelled with the group to sing at many wealthy aristocrats’ estates. When she was seven years old, she sung at Governor Lanceman’s mansion and there she met the governor’s nephew Luce.
Luce was different from the other aristocrats – including his uncle – who were conceited and corrupted. Luce had a kinder heart and strongly opposed to the unfair treatment of commoners by the aristocrats. Armeria had a crush on Luce because of this.
One night, Luce was kidnapped by pirates who planned to plunder Governor Lanceman’s estate. She could not help Luce, but Armeria had glimpsed a tattoo of a skull on the man who held Luce. The man was believed to be the pirate ship’s Captain Skulls. Luce was brought away and Armeria was devastated, but she was determined to search for Luce. Ever since that fateful night, Armeria had been travelling to look for Captain Skulls’ pirate ship.
Eight years later, at age 15, Armeria finally found the ship. She disguised herself as a boy by the name of Arto and went on board to join the crew. To Armeria’s surprise, Captain Skulls was not only a young man, but he was strikingly similar to Luce. However, Skulls was savage and unlike the gentlemanly Luce she remembered.
***WARNING!!! SPOILERS AHEAD!!!***
It was not long before Armeria’s secret was revealed. She fell into the sea and when she was rescued, the whole crew saw her female body. When confronted on her motives, Armeria admitted that she was looking for someone named Luce who had been kidnapped by the Captain Skulls. To that, Skulls simply told Armeria that Luce had committed suicide long ago. However, he did not banish Armeria from the ship. Instead he gave her a choice whether to be his woman on board the ship, or be sold at the next port they arrived.
Armeria refused to be both, but she still remained with the pirates. One day, the pirates were attacked by an opponent and Armeria was taken as hostage. During the suspenseful moment, Skulls had accidentally cried out Armeria’s real name – when she had never told anyone on board her real name. To disguise herself, she had been using the name Arto from the very beginning and no one was supposed to know that secret. At that point Armeria realized that Captain Skulls is Luce afterall.
Luce never admitted anything to Armeria, but she did obtained an explanation from the doctor on board the pirate ship. The doctor, whom everyone called Doc, was the original Captain Skulls who had kidnapped Luce eight years ago. Doc – or the original Captain Skulls – had always been practicing ‘Robin Hood deeds’ where they steal from the rich and give to the poor. When he brought Luce on board, they realized that Luce will become a ‘strange pirate’ like Captain Skulls, too. As time goes by Luce took over from him as Captain Skulls and the latter now became the doctor to serve the crew members.
Wanted is actually a quite funny story. The pirates were playful and their opponents were... well, not as good as the pirates. The pirates did not really raid villages blindly but they acted more like Robin Hood: they rob from the aristocrats what the latter had taken from the poor. It’s a light story very suitable for pure entertainment.