Yes, I am aware of the inconsistency. But believe me: no "star-crossed lover" BS. The cover lies!!
My friends often accuse me of being extremely unromantic. Just because I hate Valentine's Day and find a boy handwriting a Shakespearian sonnet in a special card to be very cheap, that doesn't mean that I'm heartless! My favorite band plays nothing but love songs! I cry when I watch Titanic! I think about getting married sometimes! I have my own "perfect guy" image in my head! I read and watch romantic books, movies, manga, and anime! Is that unnatural and heartless? :P
But really, it takes a little bit to impress me; so how could Mars earn a perfect score from picky Fangirl?
I might have heard of this series while exploring Mangafox, but I never was introduced to it until a few months ago. I have taken private art lessons for a long time, and my teacher and I get to chat a lot when I work. We often talk about movies and TV shows; one she brought up was a live-action Taiwanese series based on this manga and shares the name Mars. Although she did reveal big parts of the plot, I was still very interested in one of the characters she described.
To describe what this series is like, I could call it a blend of Fruits Basket, Dengeki Daisy, and a cousin five times removed of Black Swan. I would use Fruits Basket because of the smooth flow of the story and the beautiful balance between the light and fluffy moments and the dark and eerie ones. Dengeki Daisy had some really sharp turns in mood within two panels that would often make my stomach drop, something Mars has in a less overwhelming way. Black Swan and Mars have one thing in common: ALMOST ALL OF THE CHARACTERS ARE MESSED UP.
Sure, the romance in this story is basic and a bit cliche, but the combination of characters, interactions, and situations made this series extremely impressive. There is A LOT of psychological tension going on throughout the story, and each character has his or her own issues. And believe me, fights, anger, and deaths balance out the cheesy romance. Just to give a hint of how bad some characters are:
There is one character who is a complete sociopath. He not only toys around with Rei when he is overcoming grief and shock, he also manipulates Kira to the point of nearly reenacting Rei's brother's death. That same character has no problem with treating people like they are less than garbage. Hell, he even killed a guy!
However, not to spoil too much, but I think Sei is the most f'ed up character of all.
But if you ask me, throwing characters with psychologically and emotionally traumatic pasts into a 15-volume romance series makes Mars all the more intriging.
Overall, Rei might be my favorite character, even though I dislike guys like him in real life (at least the playboy part of him.) Although the events and characters might not be completely realistic, everything worked well for what they did. I can't say Kira and Rei are the best couple ever, but their relationship was very cute and enjoyable. (And there is no destiny bullshit! WHOOT!)
My only regret is that I read this too quickly: it took me two days to finish. :'(
For a long time, Fruits Basket was one of my favorite manga for the well developed characters, holeless plot, and beautiful storytelling. But now I think Mars will take its place, because it does all of those things better and then some. This series, which I highly recommend to almost anyone, deserves a perfect score.
Now I really need to find that Taiwanese version so bad. My art teacher said it was hilarious...