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 9 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
Princess Sakura has been staying at the estate of Fujimurasaki, the future emperor. Fujimurasaki tells Sakura he loves her and keeps her hidden from Aoba. Sakura yearns to be reunited with Aoba, but he’s to marry Princess Yuri…
With Volume 9, we get the conclusion of the Princess Yuri introduction arc, which is lighthearted in one respect but heavy on the other. Regarding Yuri’s anger toward Sakura, its basis turns out to be something completely stupid, and she quickly folds as a rival for Oura’s affections, thanks to conveniently well-timed intervention from Fujimurasaki.
On the other hand, we discover that Oura struggles with his own curse. I’d thought his wolf form was the result of magic skills training, but his situation is actually closer to Asagiri’s. I should note that in the pages where Sakura witnesses the effects of Oura’s nightmare, it is unclear which panels depict reality and which are Oura’s thoughts. At any rate, this revelation not only deepens Oura as a character, it heightens Sakura’s feelings for him and adds a layer of urgency and tragedy to their romance.
The story then shifts from politicking to espionage – of sorts. Of Kohaku and Hayate, I’d considered Hayate to be the more capable ninja, but I am reconsidering that assessment. Apparently, Hayate has his weaknesses, and though his interactions with Rurijo were probably intended to showcase his kindness, he winds up looking pathetic as a ninja (and a man). Shuri, on the other hand, makes for a much more impressive ninja. He only appears on three pages in this volume, but that’s enough to get you wondering what kind of game the double agent is playing. Between his and Rurijo’s activities, a rematch with Enju’s forces appears to be imminent.
By the way, Volume 9 includes several extras including bonus funnies and closing remarks from Tanemura-sensei and her assistants.
Sakura Hime continues to take a break from Youko attacks and battles with moon people to focus on intrigue and romance. In fact, the only time Chizakura shows up in this volume is when Sakura has a jealous fit. The trouble stirred up by Princess Yuri gets resolved much too easily, and the Rurijo/Hayate chapters make me lose all respect for Hayate as a ninja, but the volume does provide new insight into Oura’s past that makes him a much more interesting character.
First published at the Fandom Post.