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Cinderella Express
Synopsis | Review

For a long time, whenever I think about updating this site, "Cindrella Express!" pops to mind. I finished this series a long time ago, but for some reason, I never got around to writing it up.

Cindrella Express reminds me of cartoon and anime stories of days past, like Candy Candy and Dog of Landers. That era has a distinctive style, which you can see from the images in this page. That era also has main characters with a distinctive personality. These main characters also, somehow, end up traveling to faraway places. Yeah, I noticed that seems to be the norm here. And they all seem to be Pollyannas and bubble with ebulient goodwill. And yes, Cindrella Express is no exception.

This title is only one volume long, and it was created by Nakamura Yoshiki. The funny thing is that it's one of the very few titles that reads from left to right. So when I was reading this, I was disoriented because I was reading from right to left @_@ Manga distributors need to be more consistent with their orientations, dammit.

Synopsis
Fifteen-year-old Mari used to be neighbors with Jane, a girl from the Imperial Kingdom (located by the Mediterranean Sea @_@ I really think they could've been more creative with the name here, but moving on...). That is, until one day, Jane had to move back to her hometown.

The next thing Mari knew, Jane's married to the king of the Imperial Kingdom and had written her with an invitation to fly over and visit for the summer. Of course, Mari's all excited about it. But trouble starts the moment she arrives in the Imperial Kingdom. A bunch of men tried to adbuct her and would have succeeded if a palace guard did not intervene. Then, on her way to meeting Jane, she overheard some plot involving weapons.

Mari and Jane's happy reunion was short-lived, because Jane reveals that her husband's family doesn't like her very much because she's a commoner. Worse, there was a legend that if an unsuitable marriage was made in the royal family, the ghost of an old king will haunt the north tower. Unfortunately, sightings of such a haunting started after Jane and the king got married XP And then, a maid got poisoned after drinking tea that was meant for Jane.

Mari, being a fan of whodunits, decided to get to the bottom of everything. Accompanied by Jane's dog, Rogreen, she set about trying to find out who is attempting to oust Jane and possibly undermine the royal family. They had several suspects. There's the king's brother, Prince Luke. There's General Dubell. There's the Lieutenant Arthur, who is incredibly charming towards Mari. There's the scary queen mother-in-law. And there's the palace guard, Grey, who always told Mari to return to Japan.

Oh yeah, and for the shoujo component. Amid trying to solve the mystery (or getting tangled up in it), Mari realizes she's been thinking a lot about that impertinent palace guard, Grey. Jane, meanwhile, is rooting for Mari to end up with Luke. Anyway, as most whodunits go, the ending is this one big confrontation where people Mari knew aren't exactly who they seem @_@ And everybody lived happily ever after.

Review
I suppose this story can be considered a detective-fairy tale mix. For a short story, it's not a bad read. Well, if you're okay with the unsquashable, optimistic, too-good-to-be-true heroine. And if you can stand the what-the-hell parts randomly thrown in. There's this part towards the end when an old king's ghost truly did appear. It just came out of nowhere because the rest of the story involved coups and Mari running around not knowing what to do.

The whole thing between Mari and the guy she ended up with, Prince Luke, was a nice touch. However, that part of the story was pretty underdeveloped. Considering there's the whole mystery thing going on and this story is short, that's probably understandable. I also like how Nakamura-sensei added this whiz-kid element.

There's not a lot of drama in this story, which I guess is pretty good. It just focuses on various events unfolding. This is one of those child-friendly manga series XP It has a tiny bit of something for everybody. But if you're looking for contemporary artwork and contemporary drama, you might get bored of this title pretty fast :P

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