Sakura Hime 8

October 26, 2012

Arina Tanemura – Viz – 2012 – 12 volumes

Hmm… I guess I didn’t realize this had ended in Japan! I was under the impression that it would continue into the upper teens at least, Tanemura’s commentary made it sounds as if there was still quite a bit of story to go. Now I’m curious!

I haven’t read this series in awhile, and this volume was a great place to pick it back up. It had gotten a lot darker with the ugly Enju fights over the past couple volumes, and this volume takes a break from all that and gets back to the business of romance. Now, in my heart of hearts, I really can’t forgive Aoba his actions in the early volumes, but it’s so easy to get swept away by well-done girly romance, and Tanemura is a master of all things girly. The book opens with Sakura and Aoba more or less all over each other, and both are gearing up for their wedding night. But a wrench is thrown into their plans when Aoba’s father insists he take on a concubine or give up Sakura. The new wife, Princess Yuri, seems like the perfect woman, and through her efforts, she manipulates Sakura into thinking that the two are friends. Later, Sakura begins to suspect Aoba is cheating on her, and things go downhill from there. There’s a bit of drama, but it’s mostly good-natured, and it’s nothing like the dark volumes that came before. There’s some minor infidelity on both sides when Aoba falls for Yuri’s attempts to seduce him, and Sakura falls into Fujimurasaki’s trap while he consoles her broken heart.

Things don’t end in a good place, especially since Fujimurasaki has revealed his feelings to Sakura, who obviously doesn’t return them. I have no doubt where all this is going in the end, and I know that Fujimurasaki doesn’t have a chance in the world. What is interesting is that it seems like the story is going along with the fact that Aoba has two wives, though not in his heart of hearts. Now there’s some ground-breaking shoujo, at least in English.

I was also delighted to see the Ion one-shot in the back! Hooray! It’s been so long since I’ve read that. The characters have been aged just a bit for the one-shot, but it’s basically the same silly psychic-themed romance. Tanemura has some fun at the expense of her changed artwork, and it’s basically the kind of thing you would expect from her. It’s nothing groundbreaking or special, but again, I’m a huge fan of girly shoujo, and it certainly is that in a huge dose. I was pleased.

I’m curious to see how the series will resolve the Fujimurasaki business, the rift between Aoba and Sakura, and the conflict with Enju in four volumes. I have my doubts. Then again, I had my doubts about Time Stranger Kyoko too, and that series is supremely awesome. Sakura Hime isn’t necessarily my flavor of shoujo, but I do love Tanemura’s work to bits, and I get caught up in every volume so easily that it’s really hard not to like it. Volume 9 in December! Can’t wait!

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

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