Sakura-Hime: The Legend of Princess Sakura, is a lengthy English translation for Arina Tanemura’s current serialized work, Sakura Hime Kaiden. Serialized in Ribon since December 2008, the series is being released in the states by Viz Media. Elements of historical romance and fantasy along with the name of Tanemura will bring many shoujo fans flocking to the shelves for this series.
The Gist: Princess Sakura has been engaged to Prince Oura since she was a child. She has been left in isolation since her brother died, but now that she is of age, the noble family has sent for her to get married. On the night of the full moon Sakura discovers the heritage she has been left. She is a creature of the moon, living on Earth to hunt savage demon-like creatures called Youko. She is the only one who can destroy them using Chizuakura, the cherry blossom sword that resides in her body. Because she is not human, Sakura is able to withstand mortal wounds. She is feared by her country, yet the noble princes are drawn to her. The emperor decrees she must either be destroyed or agree to defend her country by fighting the Youko. Torn by staggering events, Sakura must decide if she should fight for humanity or seek to return to the moon.
The Characters/Romance: Princess Sakura comes across as a spoiled child in the beginning, throwing a tantrum because she does not want to get married. That impression is quickly changed by the events that follow. Thrown into a sudden situation, Sakura must defend herself as well as others. Tanemura once again creates a strong, brave heroine with enough naivety to muck up several male relationships. It’s entertaining to watch, and I’m sure that’s what draws in most fans. Prince Oura reminds me so much of Sayaoran Li (CCS) personality wise. He is crazy in love with Princess Sakura, but also torn because he has to do what’s best for his country as a nobleman. He’s hot-headed, and argues well with Sakura, but it’s all a ruse for how bad he is smitten. Besides Prince Oura, there is also the Togu, next in line to be emperor, Fujimurasaki. He is the uncle of Prince Oura and takes a liking to Sakura as well. Then in the second volume comes a third mystery man who appears to be from the moon like Sakura. He saves her from a Youko that he himself creates. That makes for three love interests in the first two volumes. One thing’s for certain, this story doesn’t slow down – event after event, plenty of action and touching love scenes. It’s difficult to take it all in in just one read through.
The Art: What can I say? It’s typical Tanemura. Gorgeous clothing and settings. I’ll gripe about the characters because I think the boys still look like some of her cookie-cutter bishie designs. There’s a great mix of chibi and realistic, and Tanemura transitions those two easily. The action sequences look great as well. The only thing that drives me crazy about Tanemura-sama’s work is that at times it’s so intricately detailed it’s distracting. I guess I like to keep it simple, especially if there is a lot of dialogue. I don’t know how she does it and meet her deadlines. It impresses me that she can create spreads so detailed that aren’t even chapter headers, they’re part of the panels!
The Audience: Viz has rated this series T for Teen, and I agree that it would be appropriate for younger teens. The most you get in these first volumes is a kiss. There is some blood and violence, but nothing really graphic. This would be a great read for girls.
The Media: Sakura Hime: The Legend of Princess Sakura is available from Viz media up to Volume 2. There are eight tankobans released in Japan at this time, and the series is still serialized, so more to come.
Recommend for fantasy romance pleasure reading!