ATELIER MARIE AND ELIE: ZARLBURG ALCHEMIST • Yoshihiko Ochi • TOKYOPOP • 13+ (mild violence, mild sexual situations)
An adaptation of the untranslated Japanese Playstation game, Atelier Marie and Elie is about ex-adventurers, people who lead “ordinary, everyday lives” in a Medieval fantasy RPG setting. Marie Malone, a busty, hard-drinking lady alchemist, returns to the town of Zarlburg after some time as an adventurer, and opens up a workshop together with young and innocent Elfir (aka Elie). They are helped by elves, who look like little kids with jester caps. They get in trouble with flying broomsticks and giant slimes, but even the monsters are cute and most of the chapters end with the characters clinking mugs with locals in the tavern. Yoshihiko Ochi’s crosshatched, cartoony 1980s art style is now so old that it looks original, but is hindered by a lack of depth and a limited number of face designs. The real problem, however, is the lack of humor and plot; the story goes nowhere, everyone is happy all the time, and it doesn’t even have the childish anarchy of Slayers. With more modern art and better writing, the girl-centric cast and slow pace might have qualified as a moe title, but instead it’s merely dull. (Review by Jason Thompson – originally printed in Otaku USA magazine.)
I’m out of the country until April 18, so all the winners of “365 Days of Manga” between then and now will be announced after I get back. Please keep entering the contest, there will still be a winner a day, I’ll just be announcing them all at once!