Welcome to another Guest Review Wednesday, Once again, we have the pleasure of Bruce P’s unique perspective! Settle down and get ready to laugh.
Here’s a geopolitical question you may never have considered: If Scotland does in fact separate from the UK… will she be able to find a new partner? A really cute one she can cuddle up with and share slippery bath times?
In Volume One of Shoujo Seifu – Bergamot Dominions (少女政府 – ベルガモット＊ドミニオンズ), Takada Shinichiro tackles this very question. It may not be a question that is keeping Edinburgh cabinet secretaries awake at night, but during the production of this manga the author himself seems to have gone without a quite a lot of sleep. He was driven. Possessed. It took four volumes to cool him down.
So as not to keep anyone in suspense, the short answer is Yes.
The long answer is very long, and involves pixies. Four volumes of pixies.
Nanako is an ordinary Japanese schoolgirl, friendly and cheerful. Always the mark of doom, a guarantee-to-be-dropped-into-some-alternate-world-on-page-10. In Nanako’s case that world turns out to be Bergamot, a sunny Caribbean island. OK, not so bad. She has been magically transported there by a talking cat, a garden gnome, and a pineapple-sized banshee. Going downhill now. Bergamot is this trio’s native island, an oddly dislocated Celtic paradise of green meadows, golden apples, and triple distilled whiskey, but it seems that Oberon, ruler of the neighboring island of Avalon, is bent on conquest. The brute. The native Bergamotians need help, and, reeling from sunstroke, select Nanako. They want her as leader and warlord. Prime criterion seems to be that she might look nice in a uniform.
Bergamot is a sort of perky Disney version of The Island of Doctor Moreau, inhabited by pixies, whistling gophers, happy sprites, winged riceballs, and so on. At first Nanako doesn’t want to play, she’s never been a dictator, and is desperate to escape these freaks. But her mood softens when she sees all these diverse creatures living together happily in peace and harmony. And all so very industrious. Quite a labor pool, the little critters, and gosh, no labor relations boards in sight. Smirking just a little now, Nanako takes charge.
In Government House she is surprised to finally meet another human—Sofia Wallace, from Scotland. The reason Sofia is in Bergamot is because she and Nanako are the central characters, and so—there she is. Government House is a huge edifice with no electricity or running water, but the tiny native servants they’re getting accustomed to ordering around provide excellent meals. Bath time with buckets allows for a bit of slippery service. There will be more.
But government isn’t just a succession of idle hours splashing about in buckets. The two girls work hard on a plan to develop the island’s infrastructure. Factories and bauxite mines fill their girlish dreams.
And then comes the moment of truth, when they actually have to do the job they were abducted for. Avalon attacks with a three-storey amphibious armored motor home filled with ten inch tall black bearded hipsters in pointy hats. As the girls discover, the Bergamot way of warfare is special. First comes the ritual suicide, then the drugs, the losing of the clothes, and finally the transformation into butterfly-winged angels of combat in sequined but otherwise stylish outfits (Sofia’s includes a Keith tartan kilt)…
And we haven’t even gotten to the part where it rains girls.
I suppose we must.
So Nanako and her second-in-command Sofia together have successfully defended their new domain. Living in complete isolation as they are on this lush, tropical island, and what with the soft moonlight, the hypnotically fragrant evening breezes, and the triple distilled whiskey, they soon find themselves shedding all mutual inhibitions and tentatively, tremblingly exploring the pros and cons of instituting serfdom. It promises tremendous economic benefits. What more could they possibly wish for? So then yes, it rains girls.
Nine of them drop from the sky, right on top of Nanako. One is Swedish. One is French. Others are from Russia, the US, Taiwan, Germany, Japan, the Czech Republic, and Italy. Girls from all around the world, if you consider the world to be Europe with marginal outliers. The thing has suddenly become Hetalia. Great.
The new girls become Nanako’s cabinet, and each is assigned a ministry. Mercedes (Germany) gets Justice, Priscilla (US) gets propaganda, Tanya (Czech R.) gets finance, and so on. They work hard to turn Bergamot from a Celtic fringe fairyland into a modern civilization. They establish an electrical grid and a water works. Road gangs begin asphalting the island. Finance minister Tanya devises a clever monetary system that allows workers to purchase regulated items in any of the conveniently located company stores. They establish sugar cane plantations, happily dragooning native labor for the fieldwork, and don’t think that this isn’t getting pretty darn close to the sharp edge of uncomfortable. In the meantime the girls continue to shoot themselves (the ritual suicide bit) and fly around fighting. Flying, fighting, and losing clothes will continue in Volume 2.
Art: 5. Average at best, the author is not so good at profiles. But with his Bergamotians he’s got Disney down cold.
Characters: 5. Considering that this is a Hetalia spawn, the girls showcase gratifyingly few blatant national characteristics. Yes, Mercedes (Germany) is severe and strict, and Priscilla (US) is big, blonde and bouncy, and Maria (Russia) is tiny, timid and quiet, but in general not so much.
Story: 5. The developing society angle is peculiar, and interesting because of its peculiarity. If you don’t go in much for actual story in your story. The girls are really quite determined to independently develop many of the ills of modern society.
Yuri: 2. Nanako and Sofia and buckets.
Service: 7. Nanako and Sofia and buckets, and more…
Overall: 5. Disappointing. I mean the uniform. Needs epaulets.
Erica here: Bruce you find the best stuff to review!