There is an astounding level of imagination on display in this tale of unrequited love of more ways than one.
The concept is kooky and mysterious as hell, and it’s all complimented by an aspect lacking in the majority of manga: world-building. Sure characters should be the main priority in a story, but the world they inhabit should also be developed and at the very least drawn with some level of detail, to further pull the reader into a story. Most authors either are not bothered, not capable or don’t have the time to fill out their backgrounds, either in art or story content. Some authors, thankfully do put in effort to create an entire backdrop for their stories, Usamaru Furuya being one of them.
Marie's idyllic world is detailed, unique, and fully showcased with big panels or whole pages, sometimes with excellent plot-reveals that make you pause to take it all in, visually and narratively.
The story opens with two childhood friends, Kai and Pipi, making a trip an hour away from where they live. A good excuse for Furuya to give us a tour of the island, leading us to the first amazing reveal of the manga. It wouldn’t be much of a spoiler to mention that we see Marie for the first time. As for what this bizarre contraption is, well that would be a spoiler and you'll have to read this great manga to find out.
The backdrop of this story is a utopia populated by inventers and creative minds, all flourishing together without any conflict at all. The island that we concentrate on anyway, other islands in this world have other specialities, and all of them trade with each other peacefully, sharing their wares. It’s all so idealistic it might bring a tear to your eye.
The driving force of the story is based around the mythology of the world, the design and purpose of everything, the economic system, the religion. Especially religion. Marie's presence is dominating, floating around in the sky like a strange angel; its purpose and its effect on Kai are very interesting indeed. Hovering between idol-worship, obsession, and lust, you have to applaud Furuya's imagination on display here, for using simple templates of destiny and perhaps Plato's cave but dressing it all up in his own quirks.
There are no major conflicts of good versus evil, but there is definitely something vaguely not right hovering around the edges of the tale. It’s this subtle tension that makes the story so addictive, as all good mysteries should strive for. A story without any conflict at all is worthless however, but the form it takes in this one is via Pipi’s love for Kai going unnoticed by the guy who’s more preoccupied with Marie in the sky with melodies. The characters themselves aren’t going imbed themselves in your mind, but their plotlines are good enough to drive the narrative.
As of this review only nine chapters have been scanalated, but regardless of how the manga ends, it’s built up enough goodwill from this reader through excellent world-building; and decent characterisation and art. If you want to immerse yourself in a strange unique world then check out Marie and her surreal melodies.