The thought of harlequin romance manga honestly rather amuses me. Shoujo romance manga has one set of clichés, romance novels have another, and if the two met it should end up as one big mess of trashy girly romance – horrible, but possibly hilariously so.
That said, Three Wishes really didn’t meet any of my preconceptions for better or for worse. Quite frankly, it’s no more and no less than an average romance novel, illustrated by a manga artist. The story – girl meets a genie who wants to give her wishes but ends up falling in love with her – is ridiculously predictable but
quite bearable. Shoujo romance readers will be rolling their eyes no more often than they usually do during other short, shallow shoujo titles. However, this average story is paired with fairly mediocre characters which are neither particularly interesting nor relateable, so as a whole it’s a rather poor little tale.
There’s one thing that stands out about Three Wishes, and that is the art. It was illustrated by Matsuri Akino, a rather prolific mangaka best known for supernatural mystery and horror titles such as Pet Shop of Horrors. The thought of her doing cheesy romance is quite frankly hilarious, especially since she chose to use her usual style with a few more flowers and bubbles in the background. Considering how different her art is from a typical shoujo style, it’s surprising how well this turned out. It looks a little bit out of place among hearts and not blood, but it still retains its unique supernatural feel and is easily the best part of this title.
So harlequin romance manga wasn’t as horrible as I expected. That said, it’s still nothing special in terms of story or characterization, so I’d only recommend picking up a harlequin title if you’re a fan of the mangaka that illustrated it.