Arina Tanemura is a popular shojo mangaka, and one of her works currently being translated into English is Sakura Hime, a magical shojo story that puts a twist on a famous Japanese legend. Volume 5 has recently been released, and you can read on for the review. (Also, for those who are interested, you can click here for my reviews of earlier volumes).
The story centers on Sakura, the granddaughter of the Moon princess Kaguya. As her descendent, Sakura wields the power to defeat Youko, monsters from the Moon, but Sakura’s Moon heritage also means she’s predisposed to becoming a Youko herself…
Back Cover Blurb
Aoba and the others storm Enju’s hidden palace to rescue Sakura. Byakuya must defeat Maimai for the key to the tower where Sakura is being held. Maimai is a ruthless killer, but Byakuya is about to unleash her secret powers…
At the end of the previous volume, Byakuya looked like she was in deep trouble, but given her abilities and wisdom, you’d suspect she’d be able to get out of it on her own. And she does – in a manner that’s surprising in more ways than one. Apparently, Sakura and Asagiri aren’t the only ones capable of transformation, and Byakuya’s triumph over Maimai unveils a previously unseen aspect that gives the hitherto mundane sage an air of mystery.
The story then moves on to the next fight between Kohaku and the deserter ninja Shuri. Those who are fans of the ninja characters will enjoy flashbacks of Kohaku, Shuri, and Hayate as children, but the focus is less on Enju’s minion Shuri and more on Kohaku.
With this arc, it feels like Tanemura-sensei’s trying to inject a bit of Naruto into the series with the ninja village and the child ninja who wants so badly to become the next leader. Kohaku, however, is not the underdog that Naruto is. As the current leader’s daughter, she’s hardly an outcast, and she’s beloved by her peers. So she doesn’t evoke the level of sympathy Naruto does and comes across instead as a klutzy crybaby, especially when she vows never to cry again and is bawling seven pages later. Given the mistakes Kohaku’s made thus far in the series, seeing her holding her own against Shuri is a bit of a stretch. It’s also rather strange that the Prince and the others don’t just leave Kohaku to dispatch Shuri and go rescue Sakura. Instead, everyone takes a seat to watch the fight, as if it’s a match in the ninja chunin exams, despite the fact that they’re very much in enemy territory.
By the way, Volume 5 includes several extras including bonus funnies, bonus illustrations, and the 50-page one-shot White Rose Academy: Vampire Rose.
The Maimai/Byakuya battle ends with a surprising revelation. The story then moves on to ninjas Kohaku and Shuri. Through a series of flashbacks, Tanemura-sensei casts an air of tragedy over the fight between former friends, but from a battle standpoint, her depiction of the duel feels flawed.
First published at the Fandom Post.