Tales of Wedding Rings Volume 1 – Manga Review
Tales of Wedding Rings:
Synopsis: Sato has been in love with Hime, his childhood friend and neighbour ever since he first met her despite the fact that she and her grandfather seem to have mysterious origins. When Hime reveals that she is moving far away for good, Sato chases after her in a desperate attempt to let her know his true feelings for her. Only this far away place turns out to be an entirely different fantasy world! Suddenly, Sato finds himself not only declared as the Ring King and ultimate protector of this new world, but married to his childhood sweetheart. Unfortunately, life is not all rainbows and sunshine as his new role pushes him to risk his life on a daily basis and reveals that there’s more to being Ring King than just being a romantic newlywed couple with Hime.
Review (Warning: Spoilers to Follow):
First things first, let’s get the worst out of the way. Yes, Tales of Wedding Rings (henceforth abbreviated to Wedding Rings) has a ton of cliches and tropes. Starting with the ever popular and pretty overdone, trapped/ suddenly transported to a new world and becoming the savior of this new world to the cliches of childhood crushes turning out to be obviously mutual from the start. If you’re tired of tropes and want something that screams fresh and new, this isn’t the series for you. It doesn’t help that the first chapter is over 60 pages long and reads somewhat like an amalgamation of a ton of manga tropes. There’s the missing parents, then the childhood promise to get married that seems to have been forgotten/abandoned by one of the two parties involved. Then of course, the pretty quick and obvious confirmation that both hero and heroine have feelings for each other and the icing on top, our high school aged male protagonist somehow turns out to be the savior of the new fantasy world and is pretty much proficient in sword play and similar combat without ever having been shown or mentioned to have any experience in them earlier.
Also, if the preview image doesn’t make it obvious, this story has a fair amount of fan service mainly, scenes or images of Hime, our principal female character, in skimpy outfits. To its credit, there aren’t any super cliche sexual events so far as in ‘accidental’ breast groping or face plants into bosoms and such like but if you are put off by suggestive drawings of the female body in scanty clothes or almost naked, then you might want to give this story a miss. There’s also a repeated mini joke in two chapters about the size of our hero’s package that makes me certain he’s a shower not a grower, might amuse the lads but as a female reader, it just made me roll my eyes sarcastically.
But that’s the worst of it all, which means if you have little to no problems with popular cliches, Tales of Wedding Rings has enough personality to give it merit and make it an enjoyable read nonetheless. First up, beyond all the cliches, Weddings Rings manages to sell you on the romance between Sato and Hime and why Hime cares for Sato even if it’s the cliche of him having protected and defended her from bullies as kids. They both have feelings for each other but at the end of the day, they are both a little awkward around each other, something that seems very realistic for two teenagers experiencing their first serious relationship. While it does do the frustrating tease of not making Sato realize Hime loves him too, her feelings for him are made extremely clear within the first volume. Also, Sato isn’t the hero of the world because he’s the most skilled warrior out there but because of something co-incidental and the story even makes a point to show us that he doesn’t go on winning every battle and encounter for very long. In fact, he has to accept defeat and run away within his first two encounters with the enemy. While part of this is obviously done for plot’s sake, it’s nice to have a protagonist who isn’t all powerful and the best from day one and helps to sell just how dangerous and powerful the enemy is.
The first volume of Wedding Rings is mainly devoted to setting up the relationship between Sato and Hime, and both of them settling into their roles as Ring King and newly weds. Even though their romantic relationship early on suffers from a lot of cliches, the noteworthy thing about Wedding Rings is that it gives us a believable explanation as to why Hime is being so cold about their wedding and relationship as husband and wife. In case, the word RINGS in the title didn’t make it obvious, this series is a harem and before that turns you off, so far, Wedding Rings seems to be trying to be a little unique with this harem. The important word though is TRYING. The last chapter of Volume 1 seems to hint that the next girl to join Sato’s harem might be extremely reluctant to do so, and so far, this does not seem like just a standard tsundere situation. This could potentially be a source of humour and originality if done right, and Wedding Rings might turn out to be one of the few harem stories where the male protagonist to some degree, is actively trying to woo all the women rather than the tired, oh I’m just an innocent dude who’s super attractive to this bevy of girls for some reason. That said, one could argue and worry that this might turn into a cliche harem after all as Sato DOES have his one true love female character and no doubt, Wedding Rings could easily turn back into the typical harem setting where the male lead has his heart set on one girl but still has to deal with several other admirers.
Is Tales of Wedding Rings a must read for you? Yes, especially if you’ve been looking for a harem story set in a fantasy world that MIGHT be trying to do something a little different with the genre. Or, a trapped in a new world story with a harem twist. However, if you are dead tired of all the tropes and cliches that plague those genres, Wedding Rings doesn’t do nearly enough for me to be confident that it will win over even hardened haters and critics. I, personally, am definitely going to be picking up Volume 2 of the series if mainly because I want to see exactly how harem candidate number 2 turns out to be so if you intend to do the same or have already read the series, I would love to read all your thoughts about whether this series succeeds in subverting expectations or if it ultimately falls prey to its genre and premise.
Tales of Wedding Rings is available digitally via Crunchyroll.com.