The Engagement of Marielle Clarac was a pick-up from a huge sale on digital manga earlier this month, and I am really glad I picked this one up. I hadn’t really heard anything about the manga or its story or reception, only saw it appear when I was searching for manga that were on sale. It’s cover and plot description seemed appealing considering the other kinds of manga I usually read, so I immediately added it to my list. After spending way too much during that sale, I went to work reading through what I bought. I wasn’t expecting too much from this manga, and kind of thought it might be something like Emma or other Victorian-era historical romances where the characters are very prim and proper, but I was very surprised. I wound up falling in love with the characters and the story, and now I can’t wait for more to be released. It’s a shame that there’s only one volume out so far.
The story follows the plain and unassuming daughter of a small noble family, Marielle Clarac. Always on the outside looking in, she is seldom noticed at parties, but that’s just how she likes it. When the dashing and famous Simeon, head of the royal guard and heir to an earldom, comes to request her hand in marriage, she can’t quite believe he would choose her over every other woman who wishes to be his wife. But Marielle also holds a secret, she is the author of some popular romance novels and loves getting ideas from the people and events around her. Can she keep this a secret from Simeon? Or will her engagement be over when he finds out?
The original story was written by author Haruka Momo and the manga adaptation was given to a fairly new artist, Alaskapan, to draw. I don’t believe they’ve done any other major series besides this one, but I found that I really enjoyed how they set up and drew the manga, especially when it came to the characters. I love how they drew the main characters and all of the fashion within the volume. It’s not as detailed as say something out of a Kaoru Mori manga, but I think the light touch on the details is fine for this series. It leaves the manga with a less serious feel, which fits with the plot and characters. Alaskapan definitely injects a few moments of detail into the manga though, and I appreciated her focus on the clothing and uniforms the characters were wearing throughout. I especially liked the military uniforms.
What I think I loved the most about Alaskapan’s art style was their ability to draw expressions and convey emotion through the character’s faces and body language. I found myself coming to love the cute faces that Marielle makes throughout the volume. She tries so hard to not stand out too much especially at parties, but on the inside she is just brimming with excitement. Her passion over writing and hearing gossip that she can add to her novels spills over into her facial expressions and because of this, she quickly earned my love.
Simeon, as well, was given pretty great expressions even though he is billed as this stoic person devoted to the Prince and serious about his job. I think the contrast between this and his love from Marielle just makes it all the more rewarding when we get a blush or a softer expression out of him. The side characters are given quite a bit of attention as well, and I found I really enjoyed seeing how her father reacted throughout the volume to her insistence on continuing her writing. Alaskapan’s art really put a comedic spin on this historical romance, and turned it up a notch.
At the start, I wasn’t so sure I would like the story or the characters in the series. I was a bit concerned that the dynamic between Simeon and Marielle would be slightly toxic, but it wound up being the exact opposite. I quickly fell in love with Marielle and her bursting passions, cute expressions, and easy-going nature. Simeon is a pretty great match for her, with his more temperate nature I think he brings a more calming presence to balance out Marielle’s more energetic antics. I can see that as the volumes progress, their relationship will really begin to bloom, and hopefully become something built out of mutual respect and support. We already see that Simeon will continue to support Marielle if she wants to still be a writer, and even finds her books interesting.
I really think this is a fluffy romance I needed after reading a couple of manga that failed to get my attention. The Engagement of Marielle Clarac uses the look and feel of a historical romance and throws in ideas from modern fandom to create something truly unique. In a way, Marielle reminds me a lot of fanfiction writers who love to ship characters, gush about their favorite moments, and obsessively write about what they love. And, in actuality, I do think that is what the manga is going for. The fact that it’s set in a Victorian setting just means that you can’t make direct references to anime or pop culture, but you can still bring that obsessive, fangirl quality to the characters.
Marielle’s love of writing and digging for new material for her novels leads her into a lot of interesting circumstances that wind up being quite funny. I’m also glad the author didn’t get more serious with the bullying aspect of the series, and instead kept it light, turning Marielle into someone who isn’t even the slightest bit affected by the jealousy that surrounds her. What she cares about the most is her writing, and that becomes her only care in the world. I’m really interested to see what new characters get pulled into her sphere of influence, and where the story goes from here.
Let me know in the comments if you’ve read The Engagement of Marielle Clarac before this or if I’ve convinced you to pick up a copy. Also let me know if you’ve read the light novels before. I’d love to hear your thoughts! Hopefully more volume reviews to come.
~~Thanks for Reading!~~
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