The Engagement of Marielle Clarac Manga Vol. 1 Review

Engaged me a lot more than its light novel version did.

Earlier this year I was trying a lot of the inaugural titles for J-Novel Heart, and while I loved some (Tearmoon Empire, Bibliophile Princess), I completely bounced off of most of the others, to my chagrin. One of those was The Engagement of Marielle Clarac, which I gave up on after a couple of chapters – there were some things I liked about it, but the overall narrative didn’t work for me, in part as I didn’t find Marielle’s inner voice convincing. So, when I saw that JNC had licensed the manga, I figured it might be worth giving a chance in manga form.

Marielle Clarac is the relatively plain daughter of a fairly plain, low-ranking noble house, which makes it a huge shock when Lord Simeon, son of an earl and a well-regarded knight in his own right, proposes to her. Marielle’s pretty sure there’s some reason the man’s asked to marry her other than true romantic interest, but she opts to make the best of what a ripe opportunity the matter presents… after all, it’ll give her some great fuel for the popular romance novels she writes under a nom de plume. But maybe Marielle’s mistaken to assume there’s no way Simeon’s interest could be sincere…?

I’m really glad I gave this series another chance, as this opening volume made for a fairly charming read. The story benefits immensely from being fully visualized, particularly where Marielle’s inner thoughts are concerned – she’s a lot more convincing as a characte when her internal thought processes are accompanied by stylized inner depictions of how she’s really feeling about things. Getting to see Simeon as he’s interacting with Marielle and as he looks at her also really sells the budding romance well; our heroine may not have cottoned on yet, but its very obvious to the audience that Simeon genuinely adores her.

One thing I still really don’t like about this story is the age gap between our two leads, though. Simeon’s initial interest in Marielle arises while she’s fifteen and he’s twenty-four, and, no, I don’t care that they live in a world in which its normalized for adult men to be pursuing teen girls. It’s an aspect that’s easy to ignore most of the time, but I grit my teeth whenever the age difference is mentioned.

What with JNC being focused on the publishing of light novels, I was curious about how they handled manga – this is my first time reading any of the manga they’ve released. Not that I expected otherwise at all, but they bring the same level of polish to it as they do to LNs, happily. Translator Philip Reuben toggles well between Marielle’s inner and outer voices, which nicely underscores how Marielle has approached life in high society when he own inclinations tend to cut against what is considered appropriate.

Altogether a strong opening volume that easily got me on-board with the series. I’m really looking forward to the second volume, especially as its become clear that a good deal of this series will involve political intrigue in addition to the romance.

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