A forbidden love between master and servant… That theme has formed the basis of many a romance, including Viz Media’s newly released historical manga, The Heiress and the Chauffeur. The second and final volume of the series has been released and you can read on for the review.
Back Cover Blurb
Sayaka’s father arranges for her to marry the son of an earl! Meanwhile, Sayaka has started to develop feelings for Narutaki… But with such a huge difference in their social standings, is it possible for Sayaka and Narutaki to be together?
This is the final volume of the series, and Ishihara-sensei introduces a rival, has Sayaka realize her love for Narutaki, and brings everything to a close in five chapters. This is a lot for one installment, yet it still dragged for me. Much of it had to do with Sayaka’s continuing cluelessness about Narutaki’s feelings and Narutaki’s lack of initiative to do anything other than catch Sayaka when she inevitably falls.
The addition of marriage candidate Akihiko Tachibana doesn’t do much to intensify the situation. He starts off as a promising element to complicate Narutaki and Sayaka’s lives, but he’s so quickly and overwhelmingly won over by Sayaka that he becomes more baffling than intriguing. As Ishihara-sensei accurately admits in an author’s note, “Mr. Tachibana changed so much it was as if he had been abducted by aliens.”
Also inconsistent is the matter of Sayaka’s foot. She alternately displays the actions of a reckless tomboy and a stumbling cripple. In Chapter 5, she leaps off a bridge into a lake and lands without trouble, but in Chapter 6, she balks at jumping from a sinking rowboat to a dock. And time and again, she trips for no better reason than to be dramatically caught by the male characters.
This is a romance so it of course has a happy ending. However, it’s not till Chapter 7 that Sayaka realizes her feelings toward Narutaki are not sisterly ones. That leaves only two and a half chapters for heiress and chauffeur to contend against and defeat the forces that would tear them apart. Sayaka’s long-absent father abruptly appears to play the ultimate obstacle to their happiness only to capitulate so quickly that he, like Mr. Tachibana, appears to have been abducted by aliens.
While the final chapter doesn’t involve a wedding, the volume includes a four-page bonus story that paints a pretty clear picture of Sayaka and Narutaki’s ever after. Other extras include embedded author’s notes and afterword. I should also mention that the artwork does include a few larger, sweeping illustrators, but for the most part, panels are small and cramped, and the printing tends to be overly dark and heavy. The dialogue translation is also confusing at a couple points, and it doesn’t help that several dialogue bubbles are arranged such that you can’t tell who’s speaking.
Ishihara-sensei concludes with a happy ending for our heiress and chauffeur, but the journey is rife with character inconsistencies. In addition, Sayaka’s inability to recognize romantic feelings (including hers) for what they are drags down the first half of the volume, and when she finally does realize she’s in love, things move unbelievably fast in the second half. Sayaka might be touted as the universally adored “Crimson Lily” of her school, but I found her to be a frustratingly dense and somewhat pretentious heroine.
First published at The Fandom Post.