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Sakura Hime: The Legend of Princess Sakura Volume 1 by Arina Tanemura (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

May 1, 2011 by  



Fun, hilarious, enjoyable and shocking!  Mangaka Arina Tanemura was able to craft a storyline that may seem familiar at first, but by the third chapter, the twist and turns that the readers will be reading about will literally have them craving for more!  “Sakura Hime: The Legend of Princess Sakura” is  definitely a manga series worth recommending!

 

© SAKURA HIME KADEN.  2008 by Arina Tanemura.  All Rights Reserved.

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MANGA TITLE: Sakura Hime: The Legend of Princess Sakura Volume 1

 

STORY AND ART BY: Arina Tanemura (種村 有菜)

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: SHUEISHA, Inc.

 

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: VIZ Media, LLC/Shojo Beat

 

RATED: T for Older Teen

RELEASE DATE: April 5, 2011

 

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…

Princess Sakura has been engaged to Prince Oura since birth. Aoba, an emissary from the court, has come to accompany her move to the capital for her upcoming nuptials. Taking a dislike to Aoba and wanting to escape a life arranged by others, Sakura runs away – and finds her true destiny has caught up to her.

Arina Tanemura is a mangaka best known for her illustrations and stories for popular manga such as “I.O.N”, “Kamikaze  Kaito Jeanne”, “Time Stranger Kyoko, “Full Moon” and “The Gentlemen Alliance”, but the manga wanted to take on a challenge and that was to create a manga loosely based on Japanese folklore but also a manga that takes place in traditional Japan.

So, Tanemura created her first Heian Era fantasy titled “Sakura Hime Kaden” which is published in Ribon Mascot Comics and is currently on its eighth volume in Japan. Meanwhile, Viz Media has released volume 1 in the U.S under the title, “Sakura Hime: The Legend of Princess Sakura”.

“Sakura Hime” is an anime series which revolves under a princess who’s family was killed by monsters known as Youko and has since been kept sheltered with no real friends but a tiny mononoke named Asagiri and living with staff who tend to her needs.

One day, she receives notice that she must marry Prince Aoba Oura and for Sakura, at only 14-years-old, she doesn’t want to be married, if anything, she wants to enjoy life and make her own decisions.

On the day she is to meet her betrothed, she meets an arrogant scout for Prince Oura who is accompanied by the elder Princess Byakuya who told her specifically never to look at a full moon or she will turn into a youko.

Not wanting to get married with Prince Oura, Sakura runs away from home and is followed by youko who thinks she is the Princes Kaguya.  Fortunately, she is rescued by the scout, who turns out to be the real Prince Oura and Sakura learns the truth about herself and that she is the granddaughter of Princess Kaguya, a famous princess who used the magical sword “Chizakura” from her country on the moon to defeat the youko.

As prince Oura fights against the youko, Sakura does not run away but instead calls forth Chizakura and both will fight against the youko, but for some reason, Chizakura is not so open to work with Sakura and tends to disobey her.

But Sakura takes control of the magical sword and slays the youko.

But things seem to be a little off between Sakura and the Prince, but despite her tough demeanor towards him,  he eventually learns that Sakura has cared for the Prince and has kept every letter that he had written to her.  So, from that moment, it all appears as the Prince has forgiven Sakura and deeply cares about her and wants to marry her immediately.

But just when things were getting good between both Sakura and Prince, something terrible happens and Sakura becomes the hunted, not just by the youko but also those she was once close with.

Wow!  “Sakura Hime: The Legend of Princess Sakura” was a pleasant surprise.

At first, I figured this was your usual storyline of two protagonists who are to be involved in an arranged marriage and they happen to not get along but yet, they harbor emotions towards each other internally but don’t know how to express it.  Sure, we have seen this in Rumiko Takahashi manga (and anime) series and I was hoping that Arina Tanemura wasn’t going to follow the banality of those type of storylines that have been done over and over.

For one, Arina Tanemura is such as wonderful illustrator and writer and she has amassed a popular following for quite a few of her manga series (which have received anime adaptations) and since she has established herself, the last thing I wanted to read is a manga series that is contrived.

Fortunately, Tanemura is able to avoid those potholes in manga storytelling by creating a series in which the naive 14-year-old princess, who is supposed to get into an arranged marriage, finds out that she is the granddaughter of the legendary Princess Kaguya and passed down to her is a magical sword that will slay the youko monsters.  But what I didn’t expect is to see how everyone turns on her because they are afraid that because she is a descendant of one that comes from the moon, she will be like the youko who are also from the moon and now everyone wants her dead.

I did not see this coming because the story was building up to her new life, marriage and how the people were supportive of her marriage to Prince Oura.  You never expected anything to go wrong until the people close to her apparently want her dead.  And how they portrayed this betrayal was quite surprising.

So, what we have here is not your usual dysfunctional relationship but a story of a princess who is on the run as she is being hunted down. So, needless to say, I’m looking forward in seeing how Tanemura is able to craft future storylines for the upcoming manga volumes!

Another positive that I found about Tanemura’s writing is the little notes she puts on the side of her manga.  Some talking about what’s on her mind, thoughts and even reviews on a recent cover album of “Macross” songs to the challenges that she has faced in creating this manga series and how it doesn’t follow the traditional style of manga by including short chapters.

Also, included is a story of “The Legend of Princess Kaguya” and pages of unused illustrations for “Sakura Hime”.

Overall, “Sakura Hime: The Legend of Princess Sakura” is a thrilling storyline that literally starts off feeling familiar but by the third chapter, you are taken for one heck of a ride through various twist and turns that you literally can’t wait for volume 2!

Arina Tanemura has done another fantastic job with “Sakura Hime: The Legend of Princess Sakura” and if you are looking for a satisfying shojo manga series, definitely give this one chance!  Recommended!

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