Sakura Hime: The Legend of Princess Sakura Volume 1 by Arina Tanemura
Arina Tanemura can be a somewhat polarizing manga creator. Some people love her detailed art and others might find overly cluttered. Some people may enjoy her plotting and characters which are girly to an extreme. Others might find her manga a bit hard to relate to. The main series of Tanemura’s that I’ve read in its entirety is Kamekaze Kaito Jeanne, about an art thief named Maron who is the reincarnation of Joan of Arc. I have a lot of lingering affection for Tanemura due to Kamekaze Kaito Jeanne sheer craziness (Maron goes to talk to God in the final volume), and I’ve been slowly collecting volumes of her other series Full Moon and Gentlemen’s Alliance Cross. So to people who say “Artwork too busy!” I say “Galaxy Eyes!” If somebody says “Too many shoujo cliches!” I say “Look at the ribbons! LOOK AT ALL THE BILLOWING RIBBONS!”
Sakura Hime is set in the Heian period, which gives plenty of room for Tanemura to display her love of detail with all the flowing costumes the nobles wear. Sakura is a princess who has grown up in isolation, promised in marriage at a young age to Prince Oura. The introduction page of the manga encapsulates the whole story, as it has a picture of our cheerful heroine and a potentially tortured young man with the text “Always I watch you. I hate you. I hate you. Always I’ve hated you. Always….I watch you.” This might be getting a little dark, despite all the magical girl trappings of Tanemura’s story. Sakura is visited by an arrogant emissary named Aoba who claims to be a representative of the prince. Sakura wants to make her own decisions and isn’t happy about being sold into marriage. Aoba (who is of course the prince in disguise) and Sakura naturally fall in to the type of bickering relationship that usually signals a romance drawn out over at least four volumes. But there are complications, as it turns out that Sakura is a descendant of one of the legendary Moon Princesses and thus her fate is to transform into a fighting sailor outfit and armed with a sword that she can’t exactly control, fight demons!
The rest of the volume shows Sakura gradually starting to stand up for herself. Romance isn’t working out for her, and she has to flee, accompanied only by her tiny sidekick. She soon makes new friends but dealing with Aoba and her own mystical nature ensure that she’s still going to experience rough times ahead. If you have a low tolerance for silly magical girl manga, Sakura Hime isn’t for you. If you have a tendency to be distracted by billowing ribbons and always appreciate it when characters yell things like “Sakura Descends! There is no escaping the moon’s divine retribution!” Sakura Hime seems like an amusing way to pass the time while you’re waiting for the new Kodansha editions of Sailor Moon. Tanemura’s billowing ribbons really are the best.
Review copy provided by the publisher.