Crimson Empire 1
October 4, 2015
QuinRose / Hazuki Futaba – Seven Seas Entertainment – 2013 – 3 volumes
I have a bad habit of buying everything by the writers/artists I read, even if I know it probably isn’t very good. I bought this 3-volume series while I was consuming volume after volume of QuinRose Alice stories, but when it arrived I immediately had buyer’s remorse, so it’s been sitting in my TBR pile for some time.
This has a few strikes against it… manga adaptations of video games are rarely good (to be fair, though the Alice books are a guilty pleasure, those probably don’t count either), and this one also stars a “battle maid,” which is a huge red flag for me. But I was surprised to find that I liked the first volume a lot better than I thought!
Sheila is a battle maid. Sold by her parents at an early age, she’s adopted by a band of assassins and forced to go through horrible, immoral training. She never really “becomes” one of them, and after a falling-out with the boss, she’s sold to a prince named Edvard and serves as his “secret” bodyguard.
Sheila is a little… bland. She’s got spirit, and she fights her own battles, but her personality isn’t that well-defined. She also has Cute Maid Friend and Professional Maid Friend to back her up, and a variety of good-looking men from the games that range from a joking traveler, a serious devil (that Sheila entered a pact with), a cold Butler, an equally cold Prince who wishes (?) to eliminate Edvard to claim the throne for himself but also protects Edvard, et cetera.
I think the reason I liked it was mostly due to Edvard. A handsome crown prince, Edvard takes full advantage of how capable Sheila is. He doesn’t lift a finger in his defense, and Sheila has no problem taking out the assassins that constantly come after him. He’s also somewhat cold and calculating, and though he seems to be charismatic and everything that a prince should be, he also gives off rampant misanthropy/psychopath vibes. So I’m excited to see where that goes.
The story isn’t that coherent, unfortunately. At one point, I had to read a few pages three times to figure out that the scene shifted. The male dating prospects are all dumped into your lap without much explanation (though, because they were written into the game, they are a bit better developed than this indicates). Aside from Sheila’s intro at the beginning of the volume, there’s only one easy-to-follow story about an assassination attempt on Edvard. The rest are vignettes, character snippets and introductions, and plotting.
I’m hoping it gets a bit better in the next two volumes, but at least it isn’t super-long if it doesn’t.