Friday, June 1, 2012

Manga Review: Sakura-Hime The Legend of Princess Sakura

So by now I have moved back home for the summer and that means I have two totally different libraries to get my books from, although sadly for one of them I've been checking out books from their comic section for almost five years now so there's not a lot of stuff left. This one is one of the new titles they seem to have picked up since last August or so which made me happy since I checked out the first chapter preview on Viz's manga site and it seemed not fantastic but alright. Now, was that first impression an accurate one?

Sakura-Hime: The Legend of Princess Sakura by Arina Tanemura

Summary: Sakura is an orphaned princess with no living family and so, as much as she hates the idea, will soon be married to her finance, second Prince Aoba. However it turns out there more to Sakura that meets the eye, her grandmother was the legendary Princess Kaguya and she has inherited some of her powers and the perils that come with them.

The Good: There was an interesting twist in this volume (not in the first chapter or I would have mentioned it) did set the series apart from other standard magical girl shows (actually, while the twist is very dissimilar it does remind me a little bit of one of her other works, Kamikaze Kaito Jeanne) in a good way. It provides different conflicts and does genuinely make me want to read more, although sadly my library doesn't have any of the other volumes and there are enough things that I don't like that I'm hesitant to blind-buy the rest of the volumes.

The Bad: With only three or four chapters in the volume it seemed to go by very quickly and I felt like not much actually happened by the end of the volume. The volume was the average, 180 pages length but I wish the pacing at been a tad bit faster (especially since I had already read the one chapter preview on Viz’s website, which is great but means that even less of the story was new to me), the last chapter could have easily been three-fourths/two-thirds as long as it was and nothing would have been missed. Also, aside from that twist and it's implications on the plot, nothing is making me want to hunt down more volumes (abet that is a pretty convincing reason). The characters feel flat so far, the setting is more than simply cliched, and this is at least the third magical-girl (kinda) series Tanemura has done*, there's not much new territory covered here. For that reason I'd only recommend this manga to either people who are big fans of magical girl series or someone who enjoys shojo but hasn't read a ton of it (so 15 year old me I suppose). 

The Art: Even after enjoying a few of her works I still find Tanemura’s work a bit jarring, she draws the eyes too large and the faces too pointy for my tastes and I suspect I’m not the only person who feels that way. Everything else about the art fine, everything seemed to flow well, characters looked distinct enough from each other (within the series, compared to all of  her other characters it's hard to tell them apart), and the artwork also remained consistent enough. I would hesitate to recommend this series because of the art since it is very, very, modern shojo-y, but I expect it won’t bother people who are familiar with her other works or series like say Fruits Basket.

So that's it, I'd read more if given the chance but, since I don't, I won't sweat it. Starting to get a little worried since I thought there would be more manga at my public library I'd like but at least I still have the entire section at the college library to get through, I only just began to browse that last year and hopefully that will last me a few more months.

*if you would like to get technical, Kamikaze Kaito Jeanne is the only truly magical girl series she's done but I also count this as Full Moon o Sagashite/Seraching for the Full Moon since that involved magical transformations and there are other series that are considered "magical girl" shows that involve the main character transforming primarily to become an idol (it's also my favorite out of all her works and I was quite disappointed in how the anime made it less tragic).  

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