The Earl and the Fairy, translated from Hakushaku to Yōsei, is an ongoing historical romance manga serialized in The Margaret publication since 2008. It is based on a series of light novels written by Mizue Tani that are ongoing in Shueisha’s Cobalt magazine since 2004. A fantasy set in nineteenth century Great Britain, The Earl and the Fairy delivers an intriguing new romance that foretells of epic adventures to come.
The Gist: Lydia Carlton is a fairy doctor, a young woman who can see fairies and was taught by her mother how to interact with them. On an trip to visit her father in London, she is abducted by a stranger named Huxley. On Huxley’s ship, she is then rescued by another prisoner who calls himself Edgar. Leaping from the frying pan into the fire, Lydia discovers she has been taken by Edgar for his own purposes of finding a fairy artifact. Edgar pays her a large sum of money to help him find the star sapphire and reclaim an ancient title. Though something is fishy, Lydia will have to discover for herself if Edgar is a man she can trust, or if her very life is in danger.
The Characters/Romance: Adapted from a light novel, it is apparent that the plot for The Earl and the Fairy has been well developed within the first few pages. The opening scene introduces Edgar, and provides the readers some idea of his intentions and dangerous capabilities. There are plenty of action sequences, as well as clever dialogue to keep the story moving at a fairly quick pace. Volume one is the introduction of the main protagonists and enough exposition of Edgar and Lydia that we know how they are brought together to work on the quest set out before them.
Lydia is a naive young woman with the ability to see fairies. Although set in nineteenth century Great Britain, I found Lydia to be quite outgoing for a girl of her time period, and very stubborn and determined. She doesn’t care what others think of her, but she cares about others to a fault. As the main heroine of this series, she starts out fairly strong.
Edgar is the mysterious scoundrel, as Lydia refers to him. He lets himself get captured by his rivals so that he can locate Lydia and take her away. He easily lies and manipulates people, all to fulfill his objetives. His character is what drives the female readers onward. Slowly revealing Edgar’s intentions, and his inward vulnerabilities makes him an attractive male protagonist.
As Edgar and Lydia continue to interact there is quite the chemistry, foreshadowing the romantic events that are yet to come. There are a few moments in the first volume – a touch, a glance, an attempted kiss. These events keep the characters interesting and promise more development in later volumes.
There’s plenty of material in the first volume that made me interested in the story and willing to come back for more. Lydia and Edgar are striking characters. The premise of the story is intriguing as well. The plot has already taken several turns to make the story more complex and interesting. Another volume of The Earl and the Fairy will be a definite on my list of books to come.
The Art: Ayuko’s style fits the content of the book well. The line drawings have a more realistic and mature look appropriate for an older audience. Characters are drawn very similarly to the artwork from the light novel series. Attention is given to some of the very detailed settings of the period: mansions, ballrooms, ships, cottages, trains, carriages. These images allow the story to feel set back in time. The paneling of this book varies from page to page, and keeps the story flowing smoothly. Action scenes are drawn with intensity and the romantic scenes have great tension as well. The toning adds a lot to the mood and suspense of the story, and is used to great purpose. Overall, I think the art looks great.
The Audience: Viz rates this series T for teen. I feel that is quite right. The story is aimed at older female readers, but can be enjoyed by the teen set as well. The romance rating would be cuddly, as Edgar and Lydia have yet to go past a touch or two.
The Media: The Earl and the Fairy is originally a series of light novels. There have been two drama CDs, an anime, as well as a visual novel adaptation in Japan. We are getting the manga adaptation here in North America from Viz. The second volume will be released June 5, 2012.
Heart of Manga Rating: ♥♥♥♥
While I would enjoy the light novels just as much, I’m glad we are finally getting a piece of Hakushaku to Yōsei. The manga looks to be a promising new series for Viz.