Aoi no Maharaja (Maharaja from the Blue)
KOUSAKA Tomoko (神坂智子)
KOUSAKA Tomoko (神坂智子)
Complete: 10 volumes
Moira came to India with her parents when it was still under British rule. At the Royal Palace in Jodhpur, she met Prince Silva….
(Scans available below for promotion and illustration purposes only. Contains spoilers.)
KOUSAKA Tomoko is probably more recognised outside Asia for her “T .E. Lawrence”, a short but rather complicated series. In comparison, Aoi no Maharaja offers a lighter and much warmer storyline.
Still, I wish I’ve had done more research in the history of India at its princely state era. Having done that, I would probably have appreciated Aoi no Maharaja a lot more for what it’s deserved. Well at least if I have bothered to look up into Wikipedia or at least checked out some background/ images of Jodhpur, I’d have understood what the title (“Blue Maharaja”) actually implies…Ok, I confess I bought this series originally because of its title, translated as “India Love Song” in chinese, merely because I was still under the spell of SAITOU Chiho’s Waltz wa Shiroi Dress de series*. After reading through its vol.1 for the first time, I still didn’t have any high expectation on Aoi no Maharaja, though there were few amusing moments here and there.
The plot in Vol. 1 was exactly what’s said in the description; Moria, as a little girl, joined her parents to Rajasthan. There she met Prince Silva (then-a-young-boy) of Jodhpur.. but instead of falling into a puppy love, they despised each other at first sight. Silva grew up under the constant threats of assassinations by his other royal family members and his fears of snakes…. One day, little Moria happened to bump into yet another assassination; her fears for Silva’s safety (and her feelings for him as a true friend) grew stronger. Then “few years on” (like “all of a sudden”, Silva was turning to become a 17 years old!!!), we saw Silva was to become the new Maharajah of Jodhpur. Together, the pair unfoiled a political plot (between Moria’s father and Silva’s uncle), which led to the death of Moria’s parents. With her growing frustration with the British army, Moria helped Silva to trick the British army to move out of Rajasthan. Volume 1 ends as Moria was given half of The Royal Sapphire by Silva, as a gesture to hand her half of his kingdom. Moria’s accepted Silva’s proposal to be his Maharani (i.e his wife) but would go back to England and then return in one year’s time……
In Vol. 2, Moria returned to England where she was struggling with her daily life after her wicked relatives sent her to a boarding school. She “escaped” from the dormitory, ran into the Nazis, met a Saudi Arabian prince (Prince Rajit) who fell in love with her…… Vol. 2 was filled with unexpected events and adventures, which I quickly flipped pass as there was hardly any shoujo materials…..
But my attention was quickly drawn back not long after, as I was delighted by Aoi no Maharaja from its Vol.3 and onwards……
Yes, in Vol. 3, Moria did finally return to Rajasthan (not without any twists in her journey!). There was this part where Prince Rajit accused Silva for not loving Moria enough, as there were nothing he could give to, or give up for her. Rajit shouted that he could shower Moria with anything incl. freedom or even given up his royal status if she wanted to. (…and then Moria, unnoticed by the two, entered into the scene and listened to their conversation quietly…. )
But Silva looked at Rajit only. Then calmly and slowly he said, “Prince Rajit, my kingdom is my life, and half of my life is already in Moria’s hands. Without her, half of my kingdom, my life, would be lost. Moria and I are returning (to Rajasthan) together……” Moria quickly ran to Silva who smiled brightly at the sight of her; the pair said nothing but hugs. In Moria’s heart, she knew she had made the right decision to be with Silva as he was her “sunshine in the dark that gave her hope”………
How could I possibly not pay any more attention to this pair from this moment on? This young couple was just so sweet together : )
There are many sub-plots in between the volumes, e.g. Silva’s arranged marriage with a more “suitable” Maharani candidate; the transition to India’s independence and conflicts with other Maharajahs, as well as the struggling with the new central government administration; Moria’s miscarriage and her growing friendship with a Dalit**, etc….
KOUSAKA did a very good job in coordinating and putting the sub-stories together, as Aoi no Maharaja carries a continuous flow of storytelling. Instead of distracting me with the different events occurring, this series has managed to capture my focus on the growing relationship between Silva and Moria, which was the main theme of Aoi no Maharaja.
There was one thing that did bother me initially, which was in fact Silva’s relation to Moria. For instance, in a later chapter, Silva told Moira of his decision to study abroad. He did not consult her, he did not ask her, he just TOLD her that they were to study some intensive university courses in the States (he even chose the courses for her)… and the same as they returned to India; he just TOLD her to pack the bags for leave in the evening. (It takes time to pack even if you have 2 maids in hands mate…!!)
But that’s there the other reason why I fell in love with this series – Moria was ever so understanding. She understood the situations and circumstances. She understood Silva very well. Afterall, this was the couple who went through a lot together. Beyond love, Moria and Silva has also developed a strong partnership between them. They faced the difficulties and heartaches together and tackled the challenges together. Their relationship was growing strong, and that helped both of them in rebuilding Rajasthan together at a later stage.
But, by no means would Moria’s headstrong personaility let her to accept things just as they were! She would disapprove strongly if it was anything against her principal. For instance, in the earlier chapters where Silva was involved in the arranged marriage, Silva asked her to be more understanding to accept a second wife. Moria, taking none of it, chose to leave the palace rather than having to share a husband with someone else.
Silva was lucky to have Moria standing by him all these whiles… and he knew it : )
In the last volume of the series, being the typical Silva, he left Moria in their holiday home (yes, in the midst of their long-awaited vacation!) to attend a last-minute meeting with an officer from the central government. But as soon as he learned of Moria’s pregnancy during the meeting, he left the officer at the spot instantly, and quickly return to Moria straight away — not something the super-calm Silva would do on a normal basis : )
I really enjoyed reading the last chapters re. Moria’s pregnancy. Everyone’s reaction to her new born baby was hilarious (esp. when Moria was trying frantically to guard her baby away from everyone else. lol~)
The secondary characters of Aoi no Maharaja were just as remarkable; that particular pair of stubbornly loyal servants; the good friend from Jaipur who has a mind like Fantastic Mr Fox; the ever supportive (and very energetic) grandma from London… and so on.
Artwork wise… well, if you are looking for bishies and bishojos – you will be disappointed here. But focus on the storyline and you would be charmed by this heart-warming story about the love of a royal couple and their passion for their country of a dazzling beauty with a rich and exotic history…..
* For those who has not/ yet to read Waltz wa Shiroi Dress de series, one of the main characters was born in India. In that manga series, he was one of the earlier key figures behind the India’s revolution for independence…..
** Dalit, also referred as the “Untouchables” in India. It is the 5th category outside the Varna System of India Buddhism. Traditionally, they have been considered as the social and cultural outcasts in India.
Images of Aoi no Maharaja below were scanned by me (xkazemg). These images were scanned for the purpose of promoting this manga and illustration only. Please do not steal links from here. Thank you.
1. Rajit challenged Silva on his love to Moria
2. Moria learned of Silva’s arranged marriage
|4. Silva teasing Moria re their “first night” : )
|4. Conflict with other Maharajahs
||5. Moria comforting Silva….