Title: Sakura Hime – The Legend of Princess Sakura
Alternate Title: Sakura Hime Kaden
Written and Illustrated by: Arina Tanemura
Published by: Viz Media
Distributed by: Madman Entertainment (Australia / New Zealand), Viz Media (US)
Release Date: 10th May 2011
Pages: 182 Pages
Previous Reviews: This is the first volume in an ongoing series.
Blurb: “Yet another series revolving around a character cleverly named Sakura. This first volume acts to introduce the characters and main plot of the storyline, however I felt it dragged on a bit. Design is pretty good and you won’t be disappointed with it.”
Special Thanks: Special Thanks goes to Madman Entertainment for providing me with a review sample of this manga.
I am aware my first easter weekend review is rather late, but lets just say somewhere between sorting out my large collection of manga/anime, chocolate, my backlogged game collection and even more chocolate it all was forgotten. Anyway, this is the second out of three manga titles that I will be reviewing that will be coming out next month by Madman Entertainment. It revolves around a cleverly named character name Sakura (If the blurb and title wern’t enough of a hint) and considering that it was published by Shojo Beat, it was aimed more at the female audience however I am of the opinion that they usually use either Shojo Beat or Shonen Jump to classify whether the main character is male or female. So… what did I think of it? Read on for my review of Sakura Hime.
Sakura is the granddaughter of a mysterious moon princess who slew demons with her Blood Cherry Blossom sword. All her life, Sakura has been forbidden to look at the full moon without knowing why. Then one night, unhappy over her impending marriage, Sakura gazes up at the moon, only to see a demon attacking her.
The above summary sums up the first 20 or 3o pages of the storyline. Sakura has been forced into a marriage with Oura, the prince of the kingdom she resides. Whilst this has the potential of being the generic fairy tale marriage with the kids and castle and all the perks of becoming a princess, she decides that he is a git and shows her displeasure of marriage and runs away with a mononoke (Some sort of spirit familiar) named Asagiri (Aka. the obligatory loli character of the series). Anyway, she looks at the full moon, gets attacked by demons and then gets hunted down by the prince who believes she is a monster (Oooooh! Plot Twist!). Besides that, there is also one other storyline where she meets a new potential ally and well, I will leave the rest for you to find out.
Overall, it is not a bad storyline by any means, and has the potential to go lots of directions, but hopefully to me, not the sympathetic prince route (Too generic). Whilst it is a good solid introduction volume, the introduction I felt moved way too slowly for it to be fully appreciable. Despite that, there are some interesting concepts, such as the soul symbol where a single kanji is given on the day of ones birth that holds some resemblance to the persons future are so-forth, however it is a concept that disappeared as fast as it appeared
In terms of design, I will give credit where it is due and I must say the design is very well done. As Sakura lives in a temple, the majority of the designs are resemblant of the area such as kimonos (Surprisingly no Miko outfits), Japanese-based mannerisms and furniture and more of a forest design then a town environment. The backgrounds leave very little white space, with a majority of the komas are very well designed, with some form of environment or those unrealistic daydream backdrops they are always so keen to add to series like this.
Character designs are also very good, with a good level of complexity going into Sakura, Oura and Asagiri’s designs. Other characters also have decent designs, but not of the same complexity as these three. Whilst monsters (or Youko are not abundant in this volume, the first one oddly reminds me of a much better designed version of Queen Gohma from the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time whilst the second is less well designed and seems to be more or less some sort of savage bird. The design overall is much better then I expected.
In terms of the bonus content included in this volume, there is a small amount of bonus content. Throughout the book are character profiles which go into a fair bit of detail on them and describes how the author came up with the character design and personality. Also included are the authors thoughts on the chapter you are about to read (Spoiler Alert of course) and other comments scattered around about other things. Also included are a few character drawings, Bio on Arina Tanemura, A page on the Legend of Princess Kaguya and advertising for other titles such as I.O.N, The Gentleman’s Alliance Cross and Full Moon. Whilst there is a lot of written content, for those who would rather some visual bonuses, no real luck for you this volume.
Personally, even through the plot was rather slow, I think it will pick up over time, as it did get a bit more action packed at faster paced as the volume reached its conclusion. If this genre of storyline suits your tastes, it will most probably catch your fancy, if not… then it isn’t really anything groundbreakingly new… there is at least decent design through.
Character Development: C+
Personal Opinion: B
Overall Score: B-