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 11 has recently been released, and you can read on for the review. (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…
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Kohaku follows Hayate into the woods and finds him there with Rurijo. Enju also witnesses the clandestine meeting and confronts Rurijo about her betrayal. Rurijo, now abandoned by Enju, vows to kill Princess Sakura…
Tanemura-sensei mentions in her author’s notes that the series will conclude in the next volume with fifty chapters, and it does feel like things are winding to an end with Team Enju dwindling. Ukyo’s dead, Maimai’s run off, and now it’s Rurijo’s turn. Loyal as she is, she’s not the type to defy Enju, but to anyone looking from the outside, her interactions with Hayate smack of betrayal. I lose all respect for Kohaku and Hayate as ninjas when Enju catches Hayate and Rurijo together (of the three ninjas in the scene, only Shuri detects everyone’s presence). Still, the moment serves the purpose of landing Hayate and Rurijo in deep trouble with their respective comrades.
Interestingly, Enju doesn’t destroy Rurijo outright but abandons her for a slow demise. She, of course, snaps, and in her desperation vows to kill Sakura. Given her dramatic entrance into Oura’s house, I expected a massive, extended battle. Instead, the tension quickly drops, to an almost comic level, and you can see the ultimate outcome of the fight coming from a mile away.
What’s not so predictable is the Hayate/Rurijo/Kohaku (/Shuri?) love triangle. To me, this romantic mess is the most engaging part of the current arc. Unlike the Oura/Fujimurasaki/Sakura love triangle, it’s much easier to follow, yet it’s harder to tell how it will finally resolve itself. Hayate’s had it rough, being almost a joke in his frog form, so it’s nice to see him as an object of attraction.
With Team Enju taking so many hits, they’ve got to lash back somehow, and Enju gets Sakura where it really hurts – by going after Asagiri. Tanemura-sensei mentions that “Asagiri is a character who shines in tragic scenes,” and all I’ll say about Chapters 43 and 44 is that Asagiri fans should have their Kleenex ready.
Extras in Volume 11 include embedded author’s notes and a closing remark from one of Tanemura-sensei’s assistants.
Sakura brings out Chizakura twice in this installment of Sakura Hime, but the action that follows isn’t the sort that gets your blood pumped up. What the volume does have in spades are romantic tension, juvenile comedy, and tragic final moments. With the ninja love triangle as yet unresolved and the possibility of a means to undo Oura’s curse, Tanemura-sensei’s certainly got my attention as we head into the manga’s finale.
First published at the Fandom Post.