The Lapis Lazuli Crown Volume 1
Miel Violette comes from a family of magicians, but she’s not good at magic. Her super-strength serves her just fine… until she meets a prince in disguise after clocking him with her purse. Becoming involved with him shows her that there might be reason to improve her skills in The Lapis Lazuli Crown volume 1 by Natsuna Kawase.
The title comes from the idea that lapis lazuli is “associated with intelligence, insight, and good judgment”, a nice symbol for a story about a girl growing up and learning to accept her family legacy. This entertaining adventure doesn’t have many surprises, but it’s good-hearted. If this was an American comic, Miel’s determination to go her own way would be a virtue to be celebrated; instead, the message seems to be that family and culture really do know best, and she’ll ultimately be happier if she calms down, works hard, and fits in.
Her sister wants her to gain more ability for self-sufficiency: being a skilled sorceress is the equivalent of a good career, one she can make a good living from. Unfortunately, both of them see the ultimate goal as “marrying into wealth or nobility” — Sis thinks a prestigious job is the way, while Miel wants to get there “as a normal girl!” Shades of Bewitched, where domesticity is the way to tame a woman’s magical power.
Anyway, she and the prince have a great day together, since he’s fascinated by what she sees as her weaknesses: the way she speaks without thinking, her super-strength, her inexperience with magic. It’s shojo, of course they’re perfect for each other, since she has the realism of everyday life (well, as much as that’s true in a magic-using kingdom) and the ability to protect him.
The art is straightforward, with cute characters. I have quibbles with the message — she finally decides to try to improve her abilities only after she meets a cute boy she wants to know better — but I can’t deny that much of the audience will empathize and agree with that motivation. It’s also unfortunate that she’s supposed to quit using her strength in favor of a more controlled, quiet, point-and-gesture approach, but that’s also typical of the genre. At least he likes that about her, that she’s powerful, and seeing the two of them together makes up for a lot, since they’re so supportive and go together so well. (The publisher provided a review copy.)