Currently Reading: Lady Victorian

Since the worst of my academic life is over until finals, I decided to kick back a little and relax with some manga. Now, I know I REALLY need to talk about Oishii Kankei (and I will, in the future), I found myself reading this manga.

I then found myself to be disappointed, since it didn’t live up to my expectations by any stretch of the imagination.

Well, I guess I was in the mood to mildly bash something, anyway.

Here’s a brief look at Lady Victorian. 

Lady Victorian by Moto Naoko

Summary: Bluebell Lily Everose (or Belle) is working as a governess in Victorian England since misogyny is rampant and women are not allowed to have any other job. One day, a suitcase with the decapitated head of a murdered man is found in a suitcase that was sent to her, and as a result, Belle is imprisoned. She is soon rescued a high society man, Noel, and Lady Ethel, who isn’t exactly what she seems…

Thoughts so far:
I’m going to keep this short, since I don’t have too many fond feelings for this manga, so here goes…

What is this mangaka THINKING?

In all seriousness, this manga reads like badly written fanfiction. The name of the protagonist is the most weird, out-there name I have ever seen in manga. Okay, I might be exaggerating a tad, but bear in mind there are a lot of very boring and grating Mary Sues on of a similar nature to these lot.

That crossed-out part I wrote in the summary is actually explicitly said in the story. While I will admit that being a governess was one of the only jobs women who wanted semi-decent working conditions could have done in that time period, she could have lived her life like Victorian Romance Emma, being a maid, and she wouldn’t have had to suffer as much. Maybe.

The characters in general were just so BORING. The characters are just tailor-made for clearly defined shoujo cookie-cutter roles – Belle is the innocent and shy heroine, Noel is the smooth but cheerful guy, and Lady Ethel is the enigmatic one. I would have loved to have the author try to create a more three-dimensional heroine, but such things are not possible here, it seems.

The plot developments involving Lady Ethel were really…bad. I mean, this would have been really boring and contrived in any other manga since it’s been done so many times, but I have a hard time believing that the father would have gone along with such a weird scheme to deceive his wife.

Noel is far from engaging as well. In one chapter, he professes his potential love (kind of) for Belle, and then just GIVES UP at the drop of a hat when she turns him down. When she does this, he goes like, “oh, she’s such a strong woman, I can’t believe it”, and I was almost TEARING MY HAIR OUT. Seriously. I have seen WAY stronger heroines in manga of this era, and prior, so having such an untrue thought process outlined in front of me is incredibly unbelievable.

In terms of characterization, this manga’s only saving grace is that I’ve had way more unlikeable characters in my shoujo manga in recent memory, so I can stomach the main ensemble’s predictability.

Also, what was with the random goblin and ghosts chapter? The chapter itself started out rather normally, until it made this rather jarring segway into a supernaturally-charged plotline, with Noel and Lady Ethel taking the supernatural baddies out. Since when did they become ghost busters?

This manga needs to decide if it’s going to have realism, or to not take itself seriously. I personally think it’s going to go with the latter, and that kind of annoys me, since the series puts on this air of seriousness, without having a decent amount of plot realism.

From what I see online, this series is supposed to be from 1998. While it does have that 90’s kind of look, the art just seems so sloppily mashed together. I know the art style is a common stylistic point of that era, but it’s still so…bad. It’s also rather generic looking – in a bad way. The style on the whole doesn’t set it apart distinctly from anyone else, but it’s still not very good.

Even if a shoujo manga is predictable and formulaic, I can normally sit through it. With Lady Victorian, I could barely get through three chapters of the available updates. I wholeheartedly suggest you avoid this series. I certainly won’t be reading it again. If you’re looking for a decent period manga, steer WAY clear of this one and read Victorian Romance Emma or something.

Rating: 2.5/10