Tag Archives: Yu Tomofuji

Manga Review: Sacrificial Princess and the King of Beasts Vol. 7

The theme of love transcending appearances is a popular one in fairy tales, and Yen Press’ Sacrificial Princess and the King of Beasts fits that genre. The fantasy manga tells of the relationship between a girl and her beastly fiance, and you can read on for the review of Volume 7. (For reviews of other volumes, click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

At last, Sariphi is able to carry out her first official job as Acting Queen Consort-giving a royal blessing to the newborn prince of the nation of Sarbul. That same night, Leonhart whisks her away to a place far from prying eyes. Once they’re alone, he tells Sariphi of his tumultuous past, which only deepens their bond. But just when Sariphi believes she and Leo can overcome anything together, a new duty may pull the two apart…

The Review

The Sarbul arc looked pretty much wrapped up with Sari and Leo rescuing the brash Princess Tetra. However, it extends two more chapters. As it turns out, the neglect suffered by Tetra not only allows Sari a path to reach out to the lonely princess, it dredges up painful childhood memories for Leo.

The mystery of Leo’s human form has been a mystery from the start. When I read on the back flap teaser that Leo “tells Sariphi of his tumultuous past,” I eagerly expected to learn the secret behind his parentage.

Unfortunately, that secret remains one. Turns out Leo has no siblings and no memory of his mother. He’s completely ignorant of his human origins, but his father was fully aware of and took pains to hide that aspect of Leo. Thus, we merely get more cold-hearted parenting and awful childhood memories, which is turning into a repeated theme for this series.

We then get a single-chapter interlude of Sari expressing her love and concern for Leo through the timeless medium of food before the story moves on to her next assignment as acting queen. This challenge is twofold. One, she must ratify the new lord of the city of Maasya without Leo’s company. Two, she must select a captain to lead her personal bodyguard.

I thought Anubis had softened somewhat towards Sari, but the manner in which he foists this task onto her indicates otherwise. Despite the supposed importance of the captain selection, Anubis gives Sari virtually no time to make her choice before rushing her out the door to Maasya. At any rate, we get new character Lante added to the cast.

Lante is a hyenafolk, whose tongue perpetually hangs out in a really distracting way. That aside, he draws nearly as much suspicion as Sari. Once more we get a chunk of hitherto unknown history and prejudices within Ozmargo. While it’s fine that Lante is a bit of a double edged sword, Sari’s personality feels inconsistent in her interactions with him. With Tetra, she was a trusting fluff-head who couldn’t interpret Tetra’s vindictive actions as anything but play. With Lante, she’s aware of his sketchy motivations from the get go and makes the conscious decision to trust him in spite of everyone else’s doubts. At any rate, she’s well on her way continuing the pattern of winning beastfolk hearts despite their universal hatred of humans.

Extras include embedded author’s notes about the characters, bonus sketches, and the bonus manga, “The Beast Princess and the Regular Servant.”

In Summary

We get a glimpse of Leo’s childhood but, disappointingly, no revelation on his human roots. Rather, Tomofuji-sensei gives yet another portrayal of a rejected child before continuing with Sari’s next challenge. Although the test ostensibly is to execute royal duties without Leo’s supportive presence, ultimately it boils down to the same formula of her conquering beastpeople’s prejudices about her.

First published at the Fandom Post.

Manga Review: Sacrificial Princess and the King of Beasts Vol. #6

The theme of love transcending appearances is a popular one in fairy tales, and Yen Press’ Sacrificial Princess and the King of Beasts fits that genre. The fantasy manga tells of the relationship between a girl and her beastly fiance, and you can read on for the review of Volume 6. (For reviews of other volumes, click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

The Grand Consecration to celebrate the founding of the Kingdom of Ozmargo is nigh…but the king of beasts remains in his human form despite the dawn! Thanks to Sariphi’s quick thinking, disaster is averted and the ceremony goes off without a hitch, prompting Chancellor Anubis to declare an end to Sariphi’s trials. But having assumed the role of Acting Queen, Sariphi is faced with her first job…which just might turn out to be insurmountable!

The Review

Volume 6 begins with the conclusion of the consecration arc. Surprisingly, although the judge Set injected an insidious air right before the arc’s climax, he doesn’t appear at all during Leo’s consecration speech or the falling action. Even so, Set left enough of an impression that he’s likely to cause problems in the future. As for Leo and Sariphi, an unexpected outcome results from the incident: Anubis appoints Sari as acting queen consort.

It seems like a big win for Sari, but when Anubis lays out the conditions of the position, the concession merely sounds like a continuation of her queen trials only with higher stakes. So even though she now has a title, her newfound standing grants her no security. Thus, her fight for acceptance in the beast realm continues.

The narrative then takes a single-chapter detour to focus on another couple. Although Princess Amit’s feelings for the dashing Jormungand continues to be one-sided, her maidenly fluster is plenty entertaining as she waffles over whether to wish him well on his next military assignment. And as always, her toothy looks provide a humorous contrast to her blushing personality.

Then it’s back to Leo and Sari as they head to Ozmargo’s protectorate, the nation of Sarbul, for Sari’s first official duty as acting queen consort. The decision to instate her has not been a popular one, and Sari must confront the prejudices of the population at large. Leo’s authority keeps the behavior of adult beastfolk in check, but that restraint doesn’t extend to children.

Whereas Sari had to win over a battle-hardened geezer a couple volumes ago, now she must deal with a bratty kid. Princess Tetra abounds with smart remarks, which is to be expected. However, her threat to make a suicidal leap is not, and the parallels drawn between Queen Calra and Sari’s substitute mother feel forced.

Extras include embedded author’s notes about the characters and the bonus manga, “The Beast Princess and the Regular Princess.”

In Summary

Sariphi’s trials come to an end! Well, not really. She attains the role of acting queen consort, but there’s no security in the position whatsoever. As such, even though her new title supposedly means that she and Leo can face the challenges of the crown together, the story still continues with the theme of Sariphi having to convince beastkind that humans aren’t awful.

First published at the Fandom Post.

Manga Review: Sacrificial Princess and the King of Beasts Vol. #5

The theme of love transcending appearances is a popular one in fairy tales, and Yen Press’ Sacrificial Princess and the King of Beasts fits that genre. The fantasy manga tells of the relationship between a girl and her beastly fiance, and you can read on for the review of Volume 5. (For reviews of other volumes, click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

Having successfully entertained the true Duke, Sariphi has triumphed in the trials concocted to test her capacity to be Queen. However, her success has infuriated Chancellor Anubis. As Sariphi searches for a book alone in the library, Anubis approaches her…but what is the history between the King and his Chancellor, whose family has served the royal line for generations?

The Review

The Duke Galois arc wraps up with one last chapter. Nothing too surprising here. The Duke reiterates his support for Sariphi, who continues to regard him like an old grandpa, and the king reaffirms his love for Sariphi. The sharky general Joz provides some unexpected comedy with his crush on Amit though. Amit’s crocodile mouth is terrifying, but with Joz, they’re actually visually well-matched. One thing that was a bit odd is that characters kept asking for dances when the hall seemed completely deserted of guests, staff, and musicians.

Then the story shifts to the individual who’s been pushing for these queen trials: Anubis. It’s been clear from the start that he takes his chancellorship very seriously, and we learn why in a childhood flashback. If you’ve wanted to see cute chibi versions of the king and chancellor, you’ll get spades in Chapters 26 and 27. Anubis’ critical, cynical personality hasn’t changed, but his attitude toward the royal family was once quite different. In fact, he viewed the king with a disdain similar to his scorn of Sariphi. Predictably, the king wins him over, and the fact that Sariphi treats Anubis with similar consideration hints that it’ll just be a matter of time before the chancellor extends his loyalty to her.

But while Anubis’ antagonism toward Sariphi is starting to crumble, another threat continues to lurk. Anubis’ motivation for eliminating Sariphi is so that the kingship won’t be undermined, but the judge Set appears to seek just that. In the volume’s last two chapters, a literal perfect storm renders the king in human form on a day he must appear before the entire kingdom. Of course, it’s up to Sariphi to protect Leo’s secret as the palace frantically searches for him. Her confrontation with Set insinuates that the judge is less concerned about the king’s well being and more interested in an opportunity to increase his own power. How much Set conspires against the king remains to be seen, but if and when he does, it would give Sariphi and Leo an obstacle to surmount together.

Extras include embedded author’s notes about the characters and the bonus manga, “The Beast Princess and the Regular King (and His Attendant).”

In Summary

Fairly predictable storylines in this installment with Sariphi’s kind heart winning over the duke, and Leo’s kindness winning over prickly Anubis in their childhood. Of course, there is the bonus of seeing Leo and Anubis in adorable young versions of themselves. However, the end of the volume hints that the narrative will shift away from Sariphi’s trials to a challenge she and Leo must face together, which I think would make for a more interesting story.

First published at the Fandom Post.

Manga Review: Sacrificial Princess and the King of Beasts Vol. #4

The theme of love transcending appearances is a popular one in fairy tales, and Yen Press’ Sacrificial Princess and the King of Beasts fits that genre. The fantasy manga tells of the relationship between a girl and her beastly fiance, and you can read on for the review of Volume 4. (For reviews of other volumes, click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

Confronted with yet another challenge to prove she is worthy to become queen, Sariphi must now entertain the mysterious Duke Galois upon his visit to the palace. But will learning niceties and dance steps be enough to win over the duke, who is rumored to be a fearsome warrior with a burning hatred for all things human? Or has Sariphi been set up to fail her way out of the palace and the beast realm for good?

The Review

Now that the detour with Ilya is over, the story returns to Sariphi’s trials to become queen. Unlike the first trial, the second has nothing to do with magic. Rather, this one is about surmounting the prejudices humans and beastkind hold against each other. Duke Galois, a powerful lord and a military leader in the old wars against humans, has requested to meet the candidate for queen, and Chancellor Anubis declares that properly hosting this guest is Sariphi’s next test.

Previous volumes have hinted at Anubis’ opposition to Sariphi as queen. This volume indicates that he’s not merely advising the King against Sariphi but actively working to undermine her. While he has his reasons for doing so, his attempt to make Sariphi fail in a touchy political environment seems out of character for the otherwise sensible chancellor. In addition, Duke Galois’ visit is named as a trial when the palace learns that he’s coming; it’s not part of Anubis’ original “Trials to be Queen.” With Anubis adding tests as he pleases, the story seems as if it will wind up a struggle of Sariphi versus Anubis’ plots.

In this case, the ordinary girl must quickly learn the skills required of a beastperson queen. Watching friends Cy, Clops, and Amit bring her up to speed is fun, but when Sariphi actually has to greet the duke, Tomofuji-sensei draws Sariphi with a bizarre expression that makes her look hypnotized. And when Sariphi gives the duke a tour of the palace, the explanation of its layout is helpful but feels rather belated, considering we’ve been at this palace for four volumes now.

Much the way Naruto wins over his adversaries by sheer force of character, Sariphi does the same with the duke. However, the final outcome of this arc contains a major contradiction. At the outset, Leo tells Sariphi that the duke is stronger and more powerful than he is, and when Galois arrives, Anubis remarks that he’s someone indispensable to the kingdom. Yet at the end of the chapter, Anubis dismisses him as a person who can be easily replaced. While these sudden changes in opinion make for dramatic scenes, they don’t make a whole lot of sense.

Extras include embedded author’s notes about the characters and the bonus manga, “The Beast Princess and the Regular King.”

In Summary

The story shifts back to Sariphi proving her suitability to be queen consort with her second trial: acting as hostess to a hostile guest. This arc gives Sariphi a chance to show off her spunk, determination, and charm as well as the opportunity to dress up. However, like much of this series, the politics as well as the arbitrary addition of tasks to Sariphi’s trial list don’t make a whole lot of sense.

First published at the Fandom Post.

 

 

 

Manga Review: Sacrificial Princess and the King of Beasts Vol. #03

The theme of love transcending appearances is a popular one in fairy tales, and Yen Press’ Sacrificial Princess and the King of Beasts fits that genre. The fantasy manga tells of the relationship between a girl and her beastly fiance, and you can read on for the review of Volume 3. (For reviews of other volumes, click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

Hoping to take vengeance for the murder of his childhood friend Sariphi, the young Ilya infiltrates the royal palace. He’s captured, and the King shows him mercy, sparing his life. When Ilya learns that Sariphi herself is still very much alive, he demands her return. Sariphi refuses, only to be kidnapped by Ilya, who intends to bring her back to human territory. The King is then confronted with a dilemma: If he truly wishes for Sariphi’s happiness, is it kinder to pursue her…or to let her be returned to her own people?

The Review

Previously, Anubis had presented Sariphi with a list of requirements in order to gain acceptance as queen. By the end of Volume 2, she accomplished the first task, and I assumed Volume 3 would usher in Task Number Two. Well…I was wrong. Instead of continuing to have Sariphi prove her worth to the skeptics, it takes a big detour by introducing Ilya, a human swordsman who’s in love with Sariphi. In fact, the entire volume is taken up by this young man’s efforts to bring Sariphi back to the human realm.

The sudden appearance of this childhood friend is somewhat jarring. Up till now, Sariphi’s never mentioned human friends of any sort and behaved as if Leonhart’s palace was the first place she experienced kindness. After she got kicked out of the human village in Volume 1, she couldn’t come up with a single person to help her. As such, Ilya feels like an afterthought.

Even if you can get over his abrupt introduction, Ilya’s hold over Sariphi’s heart isn’t strong enough to result in a real love triangle. The past that the two humans share do cause Leonhart emotional angst, but it’s equivalent to Sariphi’s self-doubt during the beast princess arc. Sariphi cares about Ilya, but she’s not attracted to him. In fact, even though Ilya’s love is patently clear to everyone else, Sariphi is too innocently dense to recognize it until he bluntly tells her halfway through the volume.

Because Sariphi and Leonhart’s bond is too strong for Ilya to create genuine romantic tension, Tomofuji-sensei gives him a tortured past to stir things up. If Leonhart is the broody restrained type, Ilya is the broody hothead. While Ilya’s personal tragedies arouse some sympathy and also shed light on human prejudices against beasts, his temper results in him roughing up Sariphi more than once, and I am not a fan of men manhandling their supposed love interests. As such, when the arc comes to a close, I’m quite happy to see Ilya go.

Extras include embedded author’s notes and the bonus manga, “The Beast Princess and the Regular King.”

In Summary

The story shifts from subjecting Sariphi to magical trials to putting Leonhart through the emotional wringer. The introduction of a human boy in love with Sariphi means Leonhart gets subjected to the same insecurities Sariphi suffered when the beast princesses showed up. Watching two guys compete over a girl usually adds excitement to a romance, but Ilya clearly never stands a chance of winning Sariphi’s affections so it falls short.

First published at the Fandom Post.

 

 

 

Manga Review: Sacrificial Princess and the King of Beasts Vol. #02

The theme of love transcending appearances is a popular one in fairy tales, and Yen Press’ Sacrificial Princess and the King of Beasts fits that genre. The fantasy manga tells of the relationship between a girl and her beastly fiance, and you can read on for the review of Volume 2. (For reviews of other volumes, click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

When an array of rival princesses descends upon the palace, Sariphi gains an unlikely ally in the princess of the reptile clan. A hopeless romantic, Princess Amit is determined to push her erstwhile sacrifice friend into the king’s arms! But even with Amit cheering her on, will Sariphi be able to carry out the absurd set of tasks Chancellor Anubis concocts to prove she is worthy of being queen?

The Review

One of the embedded author’s notes in this volume confirms my guess that Sacrificial Princess and the King of Beasts was originally a short story, and its awkward world building continues as it struggles to create the background for the challenges Sariphi encounters. The introduction of warring beast clans and court intrigue demonstrate that Leonhart’s position as King of Beasts is not as absolute as it appeared in Chapter 1, but the details behind the military and political powers remain vague as does the overall geography of this fantasy world.

However, the thing that Tomofuji-sensei does lavish detail and attention on is new characters. Thus, we have the reptilians, Princess Amit and her crush Captain Jormungand. Amit is a comic blend of scary face (she’s got a big crocodile mouth and teeth) combined with a shy, girlie personality. In the lineup of haughty princesses vying to be Leo’s consort, she’s the awkward misfit. So of course, Amit and the sacrificial princess hit it off. Ultimately, the princess candidate arc winds up feeling like a high school squabble between nasty prisses and spunky outcasts, complete with a literal catfight.

With Amit added to the cast, Sariphi has a peer to interact with and to worry over her when her next obstacle appears: a set of tasks to prove her worth as queen. The narrative does not enumerate the list in its entirety. Rather, it appears that each individual task will be revealed at the time Sariphi approaches it, which means these tests are likely to occupy her for the next few volumes.

As mentioned in my previous review, Leo and Sariphi’s devotion is already established; even when other princesses are literally throwing themselves at Leo, none of them have a real chance of becoming Sariphi’s rival. So the plot is focusing instead on having Sariphi fight for the right to be by Leo’s side. Because Sariphi is an ordinary girl in a land of magical animals, the tests are reminiscent of hero trials in myths and fairy tales. As such, even though Sariphi’s affection for Leo is a key component of the story, the plot seems headed away from romance and more in the direction of fantasy adventure.

Extras include embedded author’s notes and the bonus manga, “The Beast Princess and the Regular King.”

In Summary

Even though Leo and Sariphi are devoted to one another, the purity of their relationship and the fact that Leo is generally in the form of a big tusked animal preclude the physical chemistry and sizzling scenes that characterize most romances. As such, once the princess candidate arc concludes, the narrative shifts away from Leo and Sariphi’s love to a set of tests concocted by opponents to a human queen. The specifics of who wields power within the Ozmargo court and the overall geopolitical landscape of the beast lands remains vague, but if you’re not concerned about such details, you can simply enjoy Sariphi undertaking a series of fairytale-like trials.

First published at the Fandom Post.

 

 

 

Manga Review: Sacrificial Princess and the King of Beasts Vol. #01

The theme of love transcending appearances is a popular one in fairy tales, and Yen Press’ Sacrificial Princess and the King of Beasts fits that genre. The fantasy manga tells of the relationship between a girl and her beastly fiance, and you can read on for the review.

Back Cover Blurb

A young girl has resigned herself to being he next sacrificial meal for the Beast King…but the king is no mere monster! Love is more than skin-deep in this gorgeous fantasy manga.

The Review

Sacrificial Princess and the King of Beasts feels like a twist on the Beauty and the Beast genre. In addition, I found the character design of the King of Beasts Leonhard to be quite reminiscent of Disney’s Beast. Both of these male leads are bestial but not grotesque, and while their forms command respect, the heroines also bring out a cuddly side to them as well.

In Sacrificial Princess, that heroine is an ordinary village girl, Sariphi. Her name means “sacrifice” and for good reason. In this world, fear and hate separate beastkind and humankind, and in order to appease the King of Beasts, humans must regularly offer him the sacrifice of a young girl. Sariphi is the 99th offering, but unlike her predecessors, she does not fear the king. Rather, she’s able to see through his fierce facade and see the kindness beneath his ferocious work and actions.

If you like a moody hero who’s hiding secrets and an artless ingenue who can ease his heart, you will probably enjoy this story. Throughout the volume, Sariphi is given warnings or instructions not to do something, but she (always) winds up in trouble anyway. However, rather than annoying the king, those instances (always) endear her to him.

Plotwise, I’m not sure where this series is headed. Chapter 1, which is just under 50 pages, seems like it was originally a standalone story. By the end of that chapter, Sariphi discovers the king’s deepest secret and he declares his intention to make her his queen. Given their circumstances, the pair’s feelings for one another are decidedly steadfast, and it feels like “happily even after” is attained at the very start.

So how does the series push forward? By complicating the politics of the setting. The title King of Beasts makes it sound like Leonhard is the king of ALL beasts, and the book’s opening makes it seem like there are only two groups: the beast people, who occupy a miasma polluted region, and the humans who live beyond the miasma. In Chapter 2, beastkind expands to encompass an international scope. The King of Beasts is only one of a number of beast kings, and it is unclear whether the ritual sacrifice that brought Sariphi to Leonhard has significance for beastkind as a whole or if it’s just a regional tribute.

The main purpose of adding all these extra kingdoms is to introduce would-be rivals of royal rank for Sariphi. As such, the focus is the Sariphi’s insecurities because of these beast princesses, and the world building that justifies their existence seems thrown together as an afterthought. However, if you’re more interested in watching a beast and girl’s devotion play out in different scenarios, those details might not matter to you.

Extras include embedded author’s notes and the bonus manga, “The Beast Princess and the Regular King.”

In Summary

Sacrificial Princess and the King of Beasts should have a lot of appeal for fans of Beauty and the Beast stories, especially ones who like anthropomorphic animals. The King of Beasts has an interesting background and carries a ton of emotional baggage, but the relationship between him and Sariphi is simple fairytale devotion. Although hate, prejudice, and sacrifice swirl in the backdrop, the pure love between our main couple is what dominates this story.

First published at the Fandom Post.