Tag Archives: shojo manga

Manga Review: A Bride’s Story Vol. 11

Kaoru Mori is best known for  Emma, an exquisite romance/slice-of-life set in Victorian England. Her latest work to be released in the United States, A Bride’s Story, is also a historical/slice-of-life but is vastly different than Emma. Set in Central Asia in a rural town near the Caspian Sea during the early 19th century, A Bride’s Story revolves around a young woman, Amir, who arrives from a distant village across the mountains to marry Karluk, a boy 8 years her junior. Volume 11 has been released, and you can read on for the review. (For reviews of other volumes, click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

Having reached his destination in Ankara, Smith is not only reunited with his old friend, but also Talas, the woman he briefly stayed with on his journey. An agreement was made, and now Smith must travel back to Amir and Karluk with his new companions and newly acquired camera. However, the roads back are perilous as war approaches…

The Review

Volume 11 opens with Chapter 70, “Song of Midwinter.” Rather than a narrative, this chapter is a gorgeous montage of single and double-page illustrations depicting different winter scenes in town and on the plains. There’s no dialogue, but captions following Amir’s perspective provide almost poetic descriptions.

Then the story returns to the reunited lovers, Mr. Smith and Talas. As it turns out, their meeting in Ankara was not entirely the result of serendipity. The clock winds back to show the highlights of their relationship from Talas’ perspective. For such a quiet character, she’s remarkably determined and passionate. Equally remarkable is the husband her uncle forced her to marry. Not only does he sympathize with her heartache, he helps her journey to Ankara to look for Smith. When they don’t immediately find him there, Talas sells off her jewelry to prolong their stay. It’s a mind-boggling step of faith, especially considering there was zero coordination between Talas and Smith.

But fate has rejoined them, which causes new problems. Smith’s no-nonsense British compatriot Hawkins is quite vocal about the disapproval their marriage would stir in England. Talas, for her part, is oddly diffident in this discussion. The woman has literally given up her whole world to go after Smith, and after all that sacrifice, she says she’s content to be used as a servant? Perhaps that is an accurate characterization of a nineteenth century Central Eurasian woman, but from my Western perspective, her attitude is perplexing.

At any rate, despite the tensions brewing in the region, Smith resolves to travel back through Persia to take photographs. And despite the danger and uncertainty, Talas chooses to accompany him. There is no wedding, but once again, the two exchange promises and a token of their love.

That resolved, Smith and company make preparations, which include a chapter-long lesson in 19th-century photography. The wet collodion process is a lengthy, material-intensive endeavor involving various implements and chemicals. It’s largely the mixing of various compounds, so it’s less visually stimulating than the chapters on sewing or falconry, but if you are curious about early photography, it lays out the steps very clearly. When Smith finally leaves Ankara, he’s gained a couple camels, one fiancée, and the guard Nikolovsky on loan from Hawkins. The additional people bring a new dynamic to Smith’s travels, and considering Talas and Nikolovsky are tough, reliable individuals, spacey Mr. Smith appears to be in better hands than ever.

One more thing. For fun, Mori-sensei throws in a chapter about the watch that was Smith’s original engagement pledge to Talas. The journey carries the tone of a tall tale as the watch acquires a reputation so grand that Smith is gobsmacked when he chances upon it again.

Extras include Mori-sensei’s manga style afterword.

In Summary

A renewal of vows, a lesson in 19th-century photography, and then it’s back on the road for Smith. This time, however, Talas accompanies him on his expedition to take pictures of the Persian interior. Not the most romantic start to their life together, but with Smith intending to visit all the towns he’d passed through, it looks like we’ll see the happily-ever-afters of all the brides in this series.

First published at the Fandom Post.

Manga Review: The Royal Tutor Vol. 12

Rich, handsome young men, each with his own distinct personality…this type of bishounen cast is a staple in shojo manga. And if you like yours with a generous helping of chibi humor, you should definitely check out Higasa Akai’s The Royal Tutor. Read on for my review of Volume 12. (For my reviews of other volumes click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

When Leonhard receives an invitation to the Kingdom of Fosein from Prince Claude, the princes set off on their first big trip together. Will this trip give Leonhard the opportunity to put his new language skills to some good use, or will he sink to his usual aggression?

The Review

Volume 11 closed with a tense moment between Bruno and Count Rosenberg. However, as Akai-sensei’s done previously, rather than escalate matters with the princelings’ most formidable antagonist, the mood quickly reverts to lighter fare. First with a conversation between Kai and Bruno about their experiences away from home, then an absolute deep dive into silliness in a single chapter story about the king’s facial hair.

Next, cute Prince Claude returns to the story in a three-chapter arc that takes place in Fosein. Yes, the Granzreich princes leave the palace again, but this time three of them go together and for leisure rather than work/training. This means there are no lessons, although the trip expands the horizons of the mostly sheltered princelings. Basically, we get lots of fun illustrations of the princes in civilian clothes playing tourist in Fleur, a city styled after Paris.

Although three the Granzreich princes are on this trip, the focus is mainly on Leonhard. In contrast to most Leonhard-centric chapters, this arc demonstrates that the study-averse prince can excel at a subject if sufficiently motivated. It also shows that the honesty of an adorable child can demolish the hotheaded prince’s pride.

Then the trip ends, and the story shifts to Licht out among the commoners. His job has kept him busy, especially with the opening of the second Café Mitter Meyer. It’s an occasion for celebration, but the mood plummets when vandals plague the business. This arc is less about Licht himself and more about the challenges faced by his employer, who turns out to be part of an ethnic minority. The unknown hooligans and their motives have my interest piqued for this arc, and the second café’s newly hired manager Herman offers readers new eye candy.

Extras include bonus manga, afterword, and first page printed in color.

In Summary

Kai and Bruno return from their journeys of self-betterment–just to leave with Leonhard on another trip outside the palace. This time, though, the three are traveling as tourists, and adorable Prince Claude acts as their guide to beautiful Fosein. However, this installment’s not all fluff and fun. Although Licht is enjoying the commoner life, his eyes also open to its rougher side when his place of employment becomes the target of vandals.

First published at The Fandom Post.

 

Manga Review: Hatsu*Haru Vol. 7

Ah…high school romance. It is a staple of shojo manga, and Shizuki Fujisawa adds another title to this list with Hatsu*Haru. Read on for the review of Volume 7! (For reviews of previous volumes, click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

After an uneasy start to their relationship, Kai and Riko are officially dating! But now Kai has a new ocean of relationship questions to cross — first up: what kind of lunch do you bring your girlfriend?!

The Review

As mentioned in my previous review, now that Riko/Kai are (finally!) an official couple, the trajectory of the plot is somewhat up in the air. The cover art might lead you to believe that Fujisawa-sensei’s going to start something between clerics Tarou and Kagura, especially since they’re the only ones in the main cast who haven’t been mingling. However, the pair only get a brief interaction that just gives Kagura one more reason to gripe at Tarou.

Instead, the narrative continues on the subject of playboy Kai blundering through his dating relationship with Riko as classes resume. Interestingly, Riko doesn’t get targeted by Kai fans like she did before; the reaction amongst the student body is relatively subdued. Perhaps the other girls learned their lesson in Volume 3? But even though Riko has no trouble defending herself, she can’t cook to save her life, so Kai resolves to make a bento lunch for her. The lunch-making arc is very cute visually, but it did have me concerned about Kai’s masculinity because he was acting out what’s generally the girly role in shojo manga.

However, in the next chapter, he reasserts himself as a hot-blooded young man as he agonizes over how to romance Riko into a kiss. If you liked the analogy of Riko as a black hole, you’ll enjoy Kai’s rants to Einstein as well as Ayumi’s pseudo-physics unified theory of love. Unfortunately for Kai, the only kind of physical contact Riko’s accustomed to involves her fists, thus he continues to be subjected to the punching bag treatment.

About the same time, Kiyo and Miki hit a rough patch, and it causes things to sour between Kiyo and Riko, too. Most of Riko’s flashbacks have been about Suwa-sensei, and now that he’s out of the picture (he doesn’t appear at all in this volume) we instead get backstory about Kiyo and Riko’s longtime friendship. Intervening between estranged friends is generally the purview of girls, but Kai takes it upon himself to act as a mediator in a reconciliation session. Again, not something you’d expect from the male lead in a shojo manga, but if you enjoy Kai’s sensitive side, there’s plenty for you to like in this volume.

Extras include story-thus-far, embedded author’s notes, bonus comic, and translation notes.

In Summary

The struggle continues for Kai in this romantic comedy. He’s won Riko’s heart, but nothing in their relationship is coming easy for him. If you thought this series was done making fun of Riko’s cluelessness or knocking the snot out of Kai, guess again. For now, it’s still entertaining, but I hope their relationship develops a new vibe before it gets stale.

First published at the Fandom Post.

Manga Review: Hatsu*Haru Vol. 6

Ah…high school romance. It is a staple of shojo manga, and Shizuki Fujisawa adds another title to this list with Hatsu*Haru. Read on for the review of Volume 6! (For reviews of previous volumes, click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

Summer break has been full of endings and new beginnings for Kai and Riko both. Suwa’s wedding saw the conclusion of Riko’s long-held first love, but only time will tell if its departure leaves room in her heart for another. Can Kai safely navigate dating when love is involved, or will his uncalculated swing in the dark throw everything off course?

The Review

This volume has been a long time coming. After so many attempts by various people to help Riko get a clue, Kai confronts her with a confession that cannot be interpreted as anything but. It is a momentous, heart-pounding moment for our pair, but this being a romantic comedy, Fujisawa-sensei still finds a way to pull out the rug from under our besotted protagonist. Thus, the official formation of Riko/Kai is sweet and funny although I have to wonder about Kai’s health with him constantly winding up bedridden.

Considering it’s taken six (!) volumes for the heroine to realize the male lead wants to date her, I thought the series might put in a “happily ever after” there and end. However, the story continues, and I sense it won’t stop until all eight friends get paired up. What this means for our main couple is that they move on to dating and the excitement and awkwardness that comes with it. Riko’s never dated (I guess Hatano doesn’t count), and Kai’s never dated anyone like Riko. While it is strange the Kai’s Romantic Endeavors Group feels the need to continue monitoring the two, the comedy of errors that is Kai’s carefully planned first date with Riko brings a desperately needed fresh flavor of misunderstandings to their relationship.

Meanwhile, the things progress on the Takaya/Ayumi front. It’s not that they draw closer romantically; their relationship is still “fake boyfriend/girlfriend.” Rather, Ayumi gets a deeper understanding of Takaya. The narrative’s hinted strongly that the reason Takaya never paired up with anyone because he’s in love with his NOT BLOOD RELATED step-sister. Surprisingly, it turns out the attraction was once mutual. While the scenario’s not unknown in shoujo manga, Fujitani-sensei makes Takaya’s reflections on his step-sister both tragic and heartrending. As for Ayumi, our energetic school reporter gets to reveal her compassionate side. She’s a bit awkward in offering sympathy, but her earnest effort to help Takaya achieve closure makes her even more likable. Their relationship remains “fake,” but after this volume, I’m rooting for it switch to “real” soon.

Extras include story-thus-far, embedded author’s notes, and translation notes.

In Summary

Riko finally realizes Kai’s in love with her. The joke about our ultra-dense lead lady has gone on way too long, so it’s a relief for Kai’s efforts to finally pay off. Thus the next phase of their relationship begins. Granted, it’s still plagued with misunderstandings, but at least they’re on the same page about their desire to be together.

First published at the Fandom Post.

Manga Review: The Royal Tutor Vol. 11

Rich, handsome young men, each with his own distinct personality…this type of bishounen cast is a staple in shojo manga. And if you like yours with a generous helping of chibi humor, you should definitely check out Higasa Akai’s The Royal Tutor. Read on for my review of Volume 11. (For my reviews of other volumes click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

Some unexpected guests to the royal palace have the princes on their toes! Between acting as gracious hosts and testing their language skills, what additional lessons will the prospective heirs to the throne learn from their visitors?

The Review

The previous volume ended with an intriguing scene of Rosenberg at Prince Eins’ residence. This volume opens with the continuation of that scene. The interplay between Eins and Rosenberg insinuates quite a bit about Eins’ reliance on the count. The Black Prince may have a flawless reputation, but the king’s concerns about his suitability for the throne are grounded in something quite real, judging from the anxiety both Rosenberg and Eins exhibit.

However, Akai-sensei remains coy about the specifics of the eldest prince’s fatal flaw and quickly shifts the focus back on the princes whose failings we are all too familiar with. Much of the early volumes were Heine’s individual and collective lessons for the princes. Now the fruits of that work manifest as Leonhardt entertains Fosein’s Prince Claude; Bruno receives his schoolmate Smerdyekov as a guest in Wienner; and Kai cheers on buddy Elmer in a grueling training exercise. Granted, they still have a ways to go, as evidenced by their dismal knowledge of the fairer sex in “My Ideal Princess!” but clearly their worlds are expanding as they forge and deepen bonds beyond their family circle.

Not that the other royal relatives are absent in this volume. Beatrix drops in on two chapters and cute Adele features largely in the Fosein state visit. The king and granny also make appearances as needed. While the characters do have a tendency to get carried away (as when Leonhardt discovers the true reason behind Prince Claude’s visit), family interactions remain characterized by genuine concern and warmth—with the exception of Eins, who always seems the odd prince out.

The volume concludes with both Kai and Bruno back in Wienner, improved from their time away yet having lost none of their affection for Heine or their kin. Things are looking well for Heine’s students, which casts an even darker shadow on Eins’ hidden struggle.

Extras include bonus manga on the inside cover, bonus story, and first page printed in color.

In Summary

This installment seems dedicated to showing the progress of the more socially awkward princes of the family. Licht has never had trouble in this department, so we have a collection of vignettes of Kai, Bruno, and Leonhardt interacting with members of the family and new friends. Most of it is light-hearted fun, even the state visit from the Fosein royals, but the chapters do demonstrate how Heine has strengthened them as competition for Prince Eins, whose loyal Rosenberg is likely to make a move to counter this development.

First published at The Fandom Post.

 

Manga Review: Hatsu*Haru Vol. 5

Ah…high school romance. It is a staple of shojo manga, and Shizuki Fujisawa adds another title to this list with Hatsu*Haru. Read on for the review of Volume  5! (For reviews of previous volumes, click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

Kai just can’t shake his feelings for Riko, no matter how hard he tries (or how many other girls he dates). When it comes to first loves, though, Riko knows better than most how hard it can be to let things go. With Suwa and Akemi’s wedding fast approaching, will Riko be able to finally tell her most important people a heartfelt congratulations and move on?

The Review

The fourth volume ended with a tangle of misunderstandings. Apparently, Riko’s propensity for misreading situations is catching because one innocuous conversation between Takaya and Riko has exploded into a full-blown romance in Kai’s brain. Fortunately, Takaya and Ayumi realize what’s happened and set about clearing away Kai’s misperceptions—by having Ayumi pretend to be Takaya’s new girlfriend.

The characters are making a big deal out of literally nothing, and I probably would’ve found the situation tiresome if it weren’t for Ayumi. This series uses a lot of tropes (this volume contains the stereotypical summer homework and beach gatherings as well as a SECOND Riko-is-unwell-so-Kai-carries-her-home scene), and Fujisawa-sensei uses Ayumi to poke fun at oft used shoujo themes. In a conversation with Kai, she talks about romantic manga pairings; in another scene, she jokes about the “pretend relationship” trope that she and Takaya are undertaking. Although she can be intense, she’s upbeat and carefree for the most part, and the humor she brings in is a necessary counterbalance against the angst of our main couple.

Riko especially is a downer in this volume. If she’s not sighing over Suwa-sensei, she’s moping over the fact the Kai’s back to his playboy ways. And despite her increasing obsession with Kai, she has yet to recognize his crush on her even as she falls for him without realizing that she’s falling for him. Um… yeah. Riko’s being painted as dense, but her lack of self-awareness is pushing the boundaries of plausibility. Fortunately, Suwa-sensei gets hitched in this volume, effectively ending Riko’s romantic hopes with him, so hopefully this means that things can progress between her and Kai.

Extras include story-thus-far, embedded author’s notes, translation notes, and afterword. In addition, I dropped the packaging grade because the pages of my copy were cut too close to the edge and chopped off some words.

In Summary

A third pairing forms! Takaya/Ayumi isn’t the sweet innocence that is Miki/Kiyo and certainly not the prolonged yearning that characterizes Kai/Riko. Rather, these two have hooked up for the sake of getting Kai and Riko together. Even though the logic is shaky, Ayumi does a wonderful job of keeping scenes lively and fun.

First published at the Fandom Post.

Manga Review: Hatsu*Haru Vol. 4

Ah…high school romance. It is a staple of shojo manga, and Shizuki Fujisawa adds another title to this list with Hatsu*Haru. Read on for the review of Volume  4! (For reviews of previous volumes, click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

School can’t teach you everything, especially when it comes to love! No matter how much a guy studies, it still won’t be enough to turn around his terrible luck with romance! Just as an apple can never return to the tree it fell from, is unrequited love destined to never be reciprocated?

The Review

Volume 3 ended with Kai essentially confessing his feelings to Riko. When Volume 4 continues the scene, that confession goes right over Riko’s head. Kai even takes the agonizing step of clarifying his feelings, but Riko still doesn’t get it. As a reader, this is a letdown because so much tension and emotion built up only for Kai’s efforts to go to waste because Riko is—as Ayumi puts it—“denser than a black hole.”

Thus, we have a lot of drama that results in absolutely no progression in Kai and Riko’s relationship. However, even though Riko doesn’t pick up on Kai’s feelings, Ayumi does. Deciding that Kai’s genuinely in love with Riko, she decides to give her support, and in no time, she winds up on Kai’s Romantic Endeavors Support Group with Miki, Tarou, and Takaya.

The Support Group gets their next big chance to push Riko and Kai together when Kai, Miki, Kagura, and Kiyo fail their exams. Tarou proposes a study camp at his family’s temple, and the same eight participants from the amusement park date join in. Although the lack of progress between Riko and Kai is frustrating, the interactions in the group scenes are quite fun. Having Ayumi actively take Kai’s side is also an improvement. Before, she was an outsider whose out-to-get-a-scoop tendencies were annoying and intrusive; now, she’s pretty much part of the circle and trading private jokes with the others.

There’s only so long Fujisawa-sensei can get away with Riko not picking up on Kai’s feelings, especially with the growing number of people aware of his crush. So Kai hits yet another bump in the road when he misinterprets a moment between Riko and Takaya and concludes that they’re mutually attracted. This leap is nearly as implausible as Riko’s ultra denseness, especially since the subject of Riko and Takaya’s conversation is Kai. Ultimately, it feels like an excuse to put Kai through the agony of imagining his crush with his best friend (although it is entertaining).

Extras include story-thus-far, embedded author’s notes, 10-page extra chapter, and afterword.

In Summary

Ayumi switches roles from being a snooping reporter to actively supporting Kai’s endeavors to win Riko’s heart. This adds an extra element of fun to the group efforts to bring Riko and Kai together. Unfortunately, the reasons preventing pair from getting on the same page are getting weirder and weirder, and I’m starting to feel more frustration toward their romance than anything else.

First published at the Fandom Post.

Manga Review: The Royal Tutor Vol. 10

Rich, handsome young men, each with his own distinct personality…this type of bishounen cast is a staple in shojo manga. And if you like yours with a generous helping of chibi humor, you should definitely check out Higasa Akai’s The Royal Tutor. Read on for my review of Volume 10. (For my reviews of other volumes click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

Three of the princes have left home to study away from the castle and the guidance of Heine, but Leonhard remains, still under the strict observation of the Royal Tutor! Beneath the surface of everyday life lies the fierce will to fight for the right to the throne! With change all about them, now comes the time to grow and learn…

The Review

With his brothers leaving home, Leonhart’s the sole prince left at the palace. As such, he appears in most of Volume 10’s chapters. However, the volume begins with an interesting family gathering in the wake of so many departures: The Queen Mother summons Adele, Leonhart, and Eins for a tea party.

The Queen Mother’s motivation is entirely innocent; she simply wants quality time with her grandchildren. Neither Leonhart nor Eins can deny their grandmother her wish. But neither can they deny their true natures, so the two can’t help but pick at each other’s faults. And because Leonhart is involved, their sniping takes on a distinctly childish tone.

The princes’ bickering is a foregone conclusion, but what is a surprise is a private exchange between Heine and Count Rosenberg, who are also present at the tea party. Up till now, Count Rosenberg has always played the part of a cool-headed conniver. However, when Heine bluntly states that the king deems Eins unfit for the throne, the count responds with uncharacteristic emotion. Although the series’ focus has been on the flaws of the younger princes, this lays the groundwork for scrutiny of Eins’ character, which has previously been assumed perfect.

But Akai-sensei doesn’t delve into that immediately. Instead she shifts the focus back to the other princes. Licht may have left the palace, but he’s still in town, which means Heine remains his tutor. Independent living means Licht requires a different education, and his cooking lesson in “A Lifestyle Lesson” is reminiscent of their overnight stay at the boss’ quarters. Next we get a glimpse of Bruno adjusting to life in Orosz, a Russia-like country, where his greatest challenge is getting along with his academic peer Smerdyakov. Then poor Kai only gets a passing mention before the focus returns to Leonhart at the palace.

The last three chapters have the White Lily prince in three separate situations: a brush with an old tutor at the library, a visit to Licht’s workplace, and a wardrobe quandary with Adele. Although his simple-mindedness is the source of humor for these scenes, it is thankfully not the primary focus. Rather, these chapters show where he’s been and point toward the type of person he now aspires to be. Which is a relief because Leonhart’s stupidity can only carry the plot so far.

Extras include bonus manga on the inside cover and first page printed in color.

In Summary

If you like Leonhart, you’ll like this installment. Although we get updates on the other princes, Leonhart dominates this volume. His academic incompetence continues to be the source of jokes, but this volume focuses less on his stupidity and more on his changing character. And speaking of character, Akai-sensei inserts some very interesting scenes that raises questions about the fatal flaw to Prince Eins’ character.

First published at The Fandom Post.

 

Manga Review: A Bride’s Story Vol. 10

Kaoru Mori is best known for  Emma, an exquisite romance/slice-of-life set in Victorian England. Her latest work to be released in the United States, A Bride’s Story, is also a historical/slice-of-life but is vastly different than Emma. Set in Central Asia in a rural town near the Caspian Sea during the early 19th century, A Bride’s Story revolves around a young woman, Amir, who arrives from a distant village across the mountains to marry Karluk, a boy 8 years her junior. Volume 10 has been released, and you can read on for the review. (For reviews of other volumes, click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

Karluk has left home to become a man! For four months, he’s off to learn falconry from Amir’s brothers, living with them at their winter camp. As his training commences, what will Karluk learn about himself, and Amir, in the process?

The Review

Now that Pariya is safely married, the focus returns to our original couple, Amir and Karluk. As one would expect from a series called “A Bride’s Story,” their marriage has primarily been told from Amir’s perspective. However, Mori-sensei makes an interesting shift by having Karluk live with his Halgal in-laws for several months.

This is an interesting turn of events considering the trouble Amir’s father brought upon Karluk’s hometown. Or perhaps Karluk used that past offense to pressure his in-laws into accepting his request. At any rate, Mori-sensei doesn’t spend time rehashing hard feelings. Rather, Karluk’s focused on growing stronger as a man so he won’t suffer the same indignity of helplessness that he did during the attack on the town. And Azel and his two sidekicks are quite willing to teach the boy their skills.

Thus, the narrative, which has explored several exclusively female realms, now gives a taste of a male-dominated realm. Karluk’s not a new bride, but he’s leaving the familiarity of home to join a markedly different community. Readers learn about the Halgal’s nomadic lifestyle as Karluk does, and his lessons in archery and falconry are informative as well as a feast for the eyes.

And of course, Karluk is hanging out with these fine male specimens because–even after all these volumes–he still looks like a kid. Which means his well-meaning wife treats him like a kid. The age gap is awkward for Amir, but it’s worse for Karluk. Although the two manage to talk through Karluk’s insecurities, I, like Karluk, hope he catches up to Amir soon.

Then the story shifts back to the luckless Mr. Smith, who has somehow reached Ankara in one piece. As he meets with his English colleague Hawkins, we get a picture of the military tensions flaring up in the region. Considering Mr. Smith’s lack of fighting skills and his recent run-in with bandits, I expected him to take his friend’s advice to return to England. However, he chooses to stay. While the scholarly basis of his resolve is somewhat unbelievable, it doesn’t compare with the astronomical improbability of his unexpected reunion with Talas.

Considering all that has gone wrong for Talas and Smith, both are overdue for some good luck. And obviously readers would also like for the pair to has a happily ever after. However, the previously insurmountable barriers of disapproving relatives and distance vanish in a flash, and suddenly, Talas and Smith are free to be together. While the circumstances that reunite the pair seem just a bit too convenient, uncertainty still shadows their future, especially with war brewing in the region.

Extras include Mori-sensei’s manga style afterword.

In Summary

After multiple scenes of girls embroidering their dowry, how about one of a guy hunting pelts for a bride price? Karluk goes to spend a few months with his in-laws, and Azel and Company teach the boy the skills required of a man in the high plains. Even though the series is called “A Bride’s Story,” it makes a fun shift to the groom’s perspective in Mori-sensei’s tale of Central Asia.

First published at the Fandom Post.

Manga Review: The Royal Tutor Vol. 9

Rich, handsome young men, each with his own distinct personality…this type of bishounen cast is a staple in shojo manga. And if you like yours with a generous helping of chibi humor, you should definitely check out Higasa Akai’s The Royal Tutor. Read on for my review of Volume 9. (For my reviews of other volumes click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

Prince Licht once again finds himself caught between his role as a prince and his desire to have some fun in his life. How will he react when the count offers his assistance?

The Review

Volume 8 ended with what looked to be the beginning of an extended story about Licht. As it turns out, this arc actually involves all our four princelings, plus it continues beyond Volume 9. This is a refreshing change from the episodic pace that the series has fallen into. However, the plot does build on the information and events of those single-chapter stories.

Volume 9 begins with Count Rosenberg once more slithering around Licht. The count definitely has the air of a villain, but his motives for meddling in the affairs of the younger princes as of yet remain unknown. Eldest prince Eins views his brothers with such contempt that it seems unlikely Rosenberg’s acting on his orders. As such, the mystery of the count’s true objective brings an air of intrigue to this volume.

Licht, however, has the sense not to trust the count, especially since he’s already gotten burned before. When changes with Cafe Mitter Meyer inspire the youngest prince to live in town, he’s careful not to accept Rosenberg’s easy deal for a place to stay. Instead, Licht goes so far as to limit his budget to his earnings at the cafe. Much like the time he was forced to spend the night at the cafe, Licht is confronted with the difficulties of life outside the palace as he struggles to form a plan for independence. But Licht has grown as a character and displays newfound fortitude as he seeks his father’s permission to leave.

This, of course, causes an uproar among the other princes. Not surprisingly, the most outspoken is straitlaced Bruno. But just when you’re expecting Bruno to begrudgingly accept Licht’s decision, he goes far and beyond mere acceptance. As a result, Licht’s decision has a kind of domino effect in the palace. Akai-sensei looks like she’s setting the stage for something big, and I eagerly await the next installment.

Extras include bonus manga celebrating the anime adaption and first page printed in color.

In Summary

The manga completely diverges from the anime with Licht choosing to devote himself to Cafe Mitter Meyer rather than compete for the throne. His decision sends shockwaves through the palace, but the resulting repercussions take the princes in a surprising direction. Between lots of character development and hints of someone acting in the shadows, Akai-sensei does an excellent job keeping readers engaged.

First published at The Fandom Post.