Hungry Marie 001 – Review

Hungry Marie:

Chapter 001

Reviewed by: Tom

That’s a lot of crows.

Synopsis: Taiga is a young man who works at his grand mother’s temple. One day Taiga discovers that a beautiful girl, Anna, has moved in next door and instantly falls in love. Unfortunately he’s caught in a feud with the church next door, and Anna is the daughter of the Church’s priest. Seeking to somehow confess his feelings anyway, Taiga accidentally stumbles upon Anna’s dark truth, and becomes caught up in a truly outlandish situation.

Warning: Spoilers to Follow:

Review:

Hungry Marie is, in my opinion, the first truly Superb Jump Start this time around. It’s comedy is often on point, and it rarely missteps. It’s premise feels more original than Jump’s other newest offerings and the art adds a lot to the quirky nature of the story. Let’s jump in.

Hungry Marie opens with presumably its title character standing atop a church rooftop noting how hungry she is for various sweets. We snap to ground level to find Taiga, along with a middle school friend, venturing near this supposedly abandoned church as part of what looks to be a dare. But as they near the door opens to reveal a cute little blonde girl, Anna. She introduces herself and reveals that her and her father just moved in. Taiga narrates for us that this was the beginning of his first love. Initially Hungry Marie feels a little haphazard. We seem to almost jump between genres and it’s difficult to get a feel for what the manga is aiming for in terms of tone.

We flash forward a few years and discover that that first love never really came to be. As it turns out Taiga’s grandmother runs a temple next door that is in direct competition/war with Anna’s Father’s church. In fact the best Taiga can manage is a half hello before the two of them head off to school. This church and temple rivalry is where Hungry Marie starts to define itself. The quirky dialogue and frantic comedy here really sell the absurd characterization that makes Hungry Marie so appealing as an oddball comedy manga.

Oh if only major religions actually just fought like this.

At school we get the briefest of ideas for what Taiga’s school life is like and we’re introduced to a couple characters who seem likely to play a larger role later on. After school Taiga looks out over a nearby river bank, trying to psyche himself into confessing his feelings to Anna. The school pages feel more like pure set up for characters who have zero role in the plot right now. I might almost say they’re simply wasted pages, offering us information that’s not at all relevant to the story at hand. This, coupled with the earlier shifting tone, are the few missteps here. But they’re both easily overshadowed by Hungry Marie’s fast and perfectly executed zany comedy.

Surprisingly it turns out Anna’s right next to him at that very same riverbank! Taiga makes to call out to her but stops when she blurts out loud, without realizing that Taiga is behind her, that she’s going to complete her summoning. Without another word Anna snaps into action, setting up her cult like summoning circle as a stunned Taiga watches on silently.

Hey, she could be into worse things than the occult.

Anna gets halfway through her prayer when she realizes Taiga is behind her. She quickly attacks him and pulls him into a nearby alley. Deciding that it’s too late to turn back, she insists that Taiga help her complete her ritual. Taiga agrees, mostly because he’s blinded by his attraction to her. The manga moves fast. It keeps the humor flying, with jokes of all manners competing for page space. It makes the whole thing feel alive with plenty of different types of comedy and avenues of humor.

This is how fetishes begin.

He quickly comes to regret this decision as Anna brings him home to her father and they decide to use him as a sacrifice in her ritual. Anna’s father explains that they’re a small cult, unknown to the greater church and they seek to resurrect one Marie-Therese Charlotte. The explanation is entirely convoluted and perhaps even a bit confusing, but that almost complements the sheer absurd reasoning behind Anna and her father’s actions.

I love how subtle this gag is.

Taiga tries to convince Anna that her father has brainwashed her, but Anna is adamant about going through with this ritual. Apparently she’s seen Marie atop the church ever since she was a child and has sought to talk to her all these years. Taiga takes the opportunity to express his interest in Anna, admitting that he’s wanted to talk to her and liked her since the minute he laid eyes on her.

Taiga comments on how in that moment it was as if he was struck by lightning. Indeed that’s because he was! Literally! There’s a storm outside and a bolt happened to smash right through the roof onto poor Taiga! As Anna and her father wonder if Taiga is alright, or if they’ll have to make do with the Chicken Thighs they’d originally intended to use as their sacrifice, a grown emanates from the hole in the floor.

Taiga appears to be okay, but both Anna and her father go wide eyed as he comes out of the hole and into the light. Because while Taiga isn’t physically hurt, he seems to have changed a lot! Taiga isn’t the dark haired boy he thinks he is anymore. His physical appearance has been replaced with that of Marie-Therese Charlotte. Taiga places his hands to his chest and glances in the mirror behind him. This, as the manga explains, is his love story.

modern day Ranma 1/2?

I read Hungry Marie the day before working on this review and each hour that has passed has only strengthened my desire to read more. Hungry Marie may have a couple things to work on like wasted page space, an ill-defined tone at times, but when it’s full force comedy it has an utterly appealing tone that’s perfect for any reader receptive to a more zany, oddball atmosphere. I don’t exactly know where Hungry Marie will go, it hasn’t defined exactly what role its gender-bending elements will play, or what direction it wants to take regarding its romance or the brief school elements we saw introduced here. That said, unlike We Never Learn or Demon Prince Poro, I see so many wonderful avenues ahead with a massive amount of potential.

If there’s one Jump Start this round that needs to be picked up: It’s Hungry Marie. Let me know what you thought in the comments below!

Hungry Marie can be found in Shonen Jump and will be available to read for free at Viz.com.

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