The Music of Marie is a science fiction manga that explores a utopian world with a mysterious clockwork goddess whose blessings might disguise hidden truths.
This manga was written and drawn by Usamaru Furuya, the creator of Genkaku Picasso and Lychee Light Club. As a fan of Genkaku Picasso’s surreal visuals and dramatic storytelling, I was curious about Furuya’s other works and jumped at the chance to check out this intriguing title.
Thank you to One Peace Books for providing me with a review copy of this manga in exchange for an honest review.
Pirito is, by all accounts, a paradise. The various islands of Pirito all trade their resources with each other so that no one goes without and the people live in peace and harmony, knowing nothing of war or strife. Their happiness is guarded by Marie, a strange, mechanical goddess who watches over them from above and whose song brings joy and serenity to all.
A boy named Kai who lives on a mining island develops extraordinary hearing after an incident where he went missing for several days as a child. He alone can hear the beautiful music of Marie, but over time he begins to grow obsessed with the goddess. Kai’s childhood friend Pipi has nursed a crush on him since they were young and doesn’t want to loose him to this fixation. While she does everything she can to get him to look at her, instead of up at the sky, Kai begins to recall the truth of what happened to him during the time that he disappeared and realizes that Marie might have an important plan for him.
The Music of Marie presents the reader with a difficult conundrum. This world where Kai and Pipi live is kind and tranquil. There is no war, no crime and no serious interpersonal conflict. Marie’s music sooths the people’s darker emotions and ensures that everyone is happy. Not all suffering is completely eliminated – Kai lost his parents in a mining accident, for example – but there is no violence or prejudice.
But living in this utopia comes with a price.
Marie also limits the level of technology that can be achieved by humans and causes certain kinds of machines to breakdown, holding back societal advancement. What’s more, while the people are peaceful, it is only because their range of emotions is being artificially limited. Can this peace be considered to be real if it is only achieved by a form of manipulation? Is Marie actually preventing humanity from growing and becoming capable of creating a true utopia where human potential isn’t kept caged? Or are such thoughts merely arrogance? Perhaps the legitimacy of how peace is achieved is irrelevant in the face of the enormity of the suffering that Marie prevents from happening.
It’s an interesting philosophical question and The Music of Marie doesn’t go for the easy answer. This is definitely a story that’s going to make you think and I found the conclusion that Kai came to at the climax to be a bit unexpected, but also understandable given what had occurred.
Underpinning The Music of Marie’s more heady philosophical plotline is a bittersweet love story. Pipi has always had romantic feelings for Kai, and she’s not prepared to give up on him. Even if her competition is a goddess! Pipi’s determination is adorable and I found her to be the liveliest part of the book. She’s an outgoing and upbeat girl who has many admirers. Unfortunately, Kai is the one person who seems immune to her charms. As more is revealed about Kai’s disappearance and his relationship to Marie, it starts to look worse and worse for Pipi and her hopes for a future with him. Even so, there is something beautiful about her devotion, and she wound up being my favourite part of the book.
The Music of Marie is a story that contains both sadness and hope in equal measures. It’s not a title I think I would have necessarily picked up on my own, but I’m glad that I was given the opportunity to read it. The world of Pirito is intriguing and unique and the art is lovely and detailed. There were several twists in the story that caught me by surprise and parts that really made me think. Best of all, Pipi’s antics kept me constantly amused. This is a compelling drama and I’d recommend that fans of science fiction manga check it out.
Final Score: 8 out of 10.
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What did you think of this manga? Do you agree with the decision Kai made at the end? Let me know in the comments.
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