Red River – Chie Shinohara

Red River, or Sora wa Akai Kawa no Hotori, is more popularly known as Anatolia Story. The series was published in Japan in Shojo Comic from 1995-2002. In 2001 it won the Shogakukan manga award in the shojo category. Viz media published the series in the states from 2004-2010. Fans of historical romance will find this series an action packed adventure with plenty of historical references and a touching love story.

The Gist: Fifteen year old Yuri Suzuki is magically summoned from Japan to the days of the ancient middle east. She arrives in Hattusa, capital of the Hittite Empire, at the will of Nakia, Tawannana and Queen Dowager of the Hittites. Nakia plans to use Yuri as a blood sacrifice to curse the Hittite princes in hopes of putting her son Prince Juda, last in the line of succession, on the throne. Fleeing from the Queen Dowager, Yuri is unknowingly rescued by Prince Kail Mursili II, third in succession of the noble Hittite princes. To thwart the scheming Queen Dowager and protect Yuri, Kail claims she is a blessing from Ishtar, goddess of love and war. He makes her his concubine and takes her to his seraglio. As the story unfolds, Nakia’s scheming continues and Yuri must decide between returning to Japan or staying at Kail’s side. The more people Yuri meets, the more they come to accept her as Ishtar and desire for her to become their Tawannana. Eventually Nakia’s destructive plans lead to Kail becoming King. He wishes to make Yuri his Queen, but first they must stop Nakia’s machinations and create peace among their warring neighbors.

Kail and Yuri

The Characters/Romance: Protagonist Yuri stands out in the ancient setting because she was raised with modern ideals of equality and movement away from any class or caste system. In that sense, she has no fear standing up for others regardless of their station in life. This is what wins the hearts of many of the people in the time period. She is truly brave, and with some instruction, becomes an asset on the battlefield. The people come to see her as a reincarnation of their goddess of war, Ishtar. Yuri often impulsively charges into problems, which keeps the storyline interesting. Kail has his hands full trying to keep up with her.

Kail’s character is not a stereotypical alpha male, warrior ruler. While he does play the protector and feels he must fight another man to prove his manhood, he does have a vulnerable side when it comes to Yuri. He does not try to dominate her, like other men of that time period attempt. He is considerate of her feelings, and respects her bravery and compassion. Although the two fall in love, they keep each other at a distance because of the likelihood that Yuri will eventually leave back to Japan. It is this romantic tension that livens the story as well as the scheming plots of the Queen Dowager, Nakia. Now that’s a character you will get frustrated watching. By the end of the story you’ll be dying to see the woman get what she deserves.

This is a long saga – a total of 28 volumes – that does not come to a lull at any point. The action continues throughout, and many books end with a cliffhanger. Thankfully, the whole series is released so that’s not going to be an issue. It took me a little over a week to get through the series, and that’s because some nights I just kept reaching for the next book. The characters are all well developed, and the last volume includes some side stories of other memorable characters in the series. The amount of historical content is terrific as well. Shinohara brought life to ancient names like Pharaoh Rameses and Queen Nefertiti of Egypt. Rameses becomes a rival of Kail Mursuli II and falls for Yuri. Shinohara even made up a story as to why the ancient bust of Queen Nefertiti only has one eye.

Ancient Hattusa

Ancient Hattusa

The Art: It’s evident in this series that Chie Shinohara had to have done extensive research for her drawings. The costuming, props, and settings are quite detailed. The story flows smoothly, and panels are easy to follow. There are numerous action scenes as well as intimate scenes, and Shinohara draws both of them well. She has a strong sense of anatomy, and is good at depicting emotions in body language as well as facial expressions. I would say her weakness would be character design. Some of the characters look similar, so I really had to pay attention to the names. I think she was trying to emphasize that short, dark-haired Yuri really stands out among a group of tall, light-haired people. But having so many blonde characters does make you look for other distinguishing characteristics of the cast.

The ancients weren't a very modest people...

The Audience: This series has an explicit content label. Older teens to adults would be the recommended age range. The reason the content is considered explicit is due to nudity. There are several scenes of intimacy between Kail and Yuri where you see breasts or bare bottoms. Yuri is drawn bathing, and there is one Egyptian character whose dress leaves her bust completely bare. With all the naked breasts, you’d think Shinohara would dish it out when Kail and Rameses are fighting and their loin cloths fall off. But no, she leaves that to the imagination as she colors in the area with shadows. Not that I’d want to see it, but I still complain of such gender bias! 🙂

The Media: Red River is available from Viz media in 28 volumes. In Japan the series produced 8 drama CDs, an art book, and two novels also written by Shinohara.

Heart of Manga Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥  If you like historical romance, you won’t want to miss this series.

Follow Me!


Super mom and teacher until the kids go to bed, then romance manga addict and writer until the caffeine wears out! Specializes in the shoujo and josei genre of manga and anime.
Follow Me!

Latest posts by Laura (see all)


    I really adored the story and this series too. I read the last 10 volumes in 3 nights haha.
    But the only thing I was disappointed in was there was no follow up about Yuri’s Japan life and her family. Like what happened to that? I just wish there was some answer for that because I was really craving to know what happened to them lol Overall 8/10. Really engaging story, my first Historical Romance, and I really love it.


    I finished the series, but im still concerned (sorry if i spelt that wrong)
    About some things..for example, yuri’s family….they might’ve called the police, and they wouldn’t be able to find her, everyone will panic, her family will be worried like hell, and totally stressed out while yuri (another reaaon i’m concerned) abandoned her family, and is happily the queen of an empire…….in the past…..a place where manga does not exist…no internet….or junk food…wow….i find it increadible she is able to tolerate this…

    • HAHAHAHA! So true! I did contemplate what her family might do, but it seemed trivial compared to how she was always dodging murder in the story. I guess the love was worth it for her in the end. But yeah, it’s kind of hard to forget your family. 🙂

      • Agreed. I couldn’t finish it because I was sort of annoyed with Yuri. I liked her at first, but it was in one of the earliest volumes where she cost a little boy his life. It made me feel sick seeing what happened. I might get back into it, though:) You always have great taste in shoujo, so maybe I just didn’t read enough for it to get going? I read up to volume 12 I believe.

        • OMG, Mary! How did you read that? This is one of the posts I haven’t fixed yet. :/ If you got 12 volumes in and didn’t like it, then you probably wouldn’t like the rest of it. I just have a thing for historical or period pieces, and I liked seeing actual people from history in this manga.

          • Haha, well everyone raves about it, so I figured eventually I would just click with it. It’s a shame though, because I really love the concept of going to another world-like in Fushigi Yuugi and Escaflowne-as well as historical ties and romance.

  • I love this series, however have not finished reading entire series. I love the art, the detail, and the storyline because it is so heart wrenching. 5 outta 5 for me. 🙂

2018 Shoujo and Josei License Announcements
Contact Me
Subscribe to Heart of Manga

Enter your email address to receive notifications of new posts. Your info will not be used for any other purpose.

Like Us on Facebook