Tag Archives: all ages

Lapis Lazuli Crown

The Lapis Lazuli Crown Volume 1 by Natsuna Kawase

I’m always on the lookout for fun fantasy series, and Lapis Lazuli Crown seems like it will fill that role quite nicely. Miel is the middle child in a fallen aristocratic family that used to serve the King. Miel is cursed with super-strength and a lack of control over her own magic. Her older sister is a renowned sorceress, but Miel is stubborn about listening to her advice about practicing magic more. Instead, Miel is determined to better herself by pretending to be a normal girl and marrying a nobleman to lift herself out of poverty. The lapis lazuli in the title of the book comes from the way magic users use stones to focus and amplify their powers. Miel’s favorite stone is the lapis lazuli, also her country’s emblem. But her poor control of magic could cause her stone to break so she almost never uses it.

Miel is swinging her purse and her super-strengh causes it to launch like a rocket, striking a boy in the head who is walking several blocks away. Radi tells her that he’s a young nobleman who has been separated from his friend, but his name and appearance is suspiciously similar to the crown Prince Radian. Radi is delighted by Miel’s super-strength and offers to hire her to show him around town. Miel agrees and they have fun going to a cafeteria to eat. Radi also encourages Miel to enter an arm-wrestling contest.

The plot developments aren’t particularly surprising. Radi is really Prince Radian in disguise and he and Miel are attracted to each other. One of the things I liked about the plot was the way Radi instantly accepted Miel and views what she perceives as her weaknesses as strengths. He thinks that she has difficulty controlling her magic because she’s much more powerful than the average magic user. Radi and Miel don’t see each other very often, but since the Prince has a habit of disguising himself as a commoner to wander around the capital city and help out his subjects, they end up going on a few adventures. Miel becomes determined to learn to better control her abilities in order to gain access to the palace as a magic user and support the Prince.

I’ve read that Kawase was previously an assistant to Arina Tanemura. I didn’t find the art in Lapis Lazuli Crown to have an extremely distinct personal style, but it got the job done without the excess of screentone that is sometimes characteristic of Tanemura’s work. This volume also included a lenthly back-up story about a phantom thief. The three chapters of the main story were certainly pleasant, and I think I’ll be getting the second and concluding volume of this series. Lapis Lazuli Crown is rated by the publisher as E for everyone, so this might be a good fantasy series for school libraries to consider purchasing.

Sugar Princess: Skating to Win

Sugar Princess: Skating to Win Volume 1 by Hisaya Nakajo (amazon)

Hana Kimi remains my favorite series about a girl dressing up as a boy to get closer to her object of affection even though the ending in the final volume was a little rushed. So I was curious when I saw that another Nakajo series was being published under the Shojo Beat imprint.

Maya takes her little brother to an ice skating rink. While she’s there she tries out a jump that she saw on TV the night before. She awkwardly lands a double axel! A scruffy man is watching her and notices something interesting despite her lack of technique. He walks up to her, grabs her shoulders, and asks “Would you like to be a princess?”

At school the next day Maya talks about the strange incident with her friends. She decides to visit the skating rink again to find out more. She spots Shun Kano landing a jump and is dazzled by his talent. The scruffy coach Todo shows up again and makes a point of introducing Maya to Shun. Shun asks if she’s a new student in the novice group for elementary students. Maya is outraged! It turns out Shun goes to the high school that’s attached to her middle school. Toda says he’d like them to do pair skating together. Shun refuses, saying that he only does singles and stalks off.

Maya is still intrigued by the idea of figure skating and starts practicing in earnest. She has natural talent that she’s willing to work hard to refine. While Shun is standoffish, it turns out that he has a tragic past and is much nicer than he seems. The reader will not be surprised when Maya and Shun start getting to know each other better, will they team up despite the difference in their skating talent and win a competition?

It is obvious that Nakajo is a big fan of figure skating. There are drawing of famous figure skaters scattered throughout the book. Even though the plot elements in the book are entirely predictable, I found myself enjoying Sugar Princess. If you like manga and have ever enjoyed cheesy skating movies like The Cutting Edge, Sugar Princess: Skating to Win is worth checking out. This is a cute all-ages title that would be appropriate for school library collections. I’m disappointed that it is only a two volume series.