Long ago, there existed a land divided into four countries: Sou, Kou, Do, and Ah. The King of Ah took on a wife from Kou and soon thereafter one from Do, creating a shaky alliance between the three nations. When the Second Queen gave birth to a son, the King cast aside the sickly First Queen and her daughter Aki into the depths of the Palace. But as Fate would have it, Princess Aki encounters a slave named Hakusei, who has peculiar golden hair and sky blue eyes. He promises his life to her and helps her train in the Six Arts under the guidance of the enigmatic merchant Seitetsu; however, when Aki outshines the Prince during a hunt in an attempt to gain her father's acknowledgement, she sparks a war by besmirching Do's honor and drives the Second Queen to poison her mother.
With nothing left but her faithful Hakusei, Aki is banished to the small country of Kou with a vow to return to Ah one day for revenge. But in the face of the mighty allied nations of Do and Ah, will the two survive long enough to carry out Aki's vow?
After looking at the cover pictures of this manga it will not be surprising to hear that you assume this is just a lovey dovey manga with no real story and flick to another page to try your luck somewhere else. But I beg you to give this what I think is a very under-rated manga a chance. Here's why:
Let's be honest here, the artwork (to me) is not the best. I have seen better but I have definitely seen worse so for me I think this art style is 'safe'. I especially had problems in the first few chapters because the mangaka seemed
to be having problems drawing the correct facial expressions for the main characters but also keep their appearance as they should for their age group. So overall, there are inconsistencies with how all the characters look and body structure. Action scenes are OK but at least not confusing. However, being an absolute sucker for historical settings, I adore the clothes and the background layouts and not to mention, the cover pages for each chapter/volume are very well done - hence the 7 overall.
Aki - a forgotten princess and literally gets shoved one place to another.
Hakusei - an outcast because of his Caucasian heritage but a loyal servant to Aki/love interest.
Queen Do - power hungry Queen from a powerful country
These are more or less the absolute 'must have' characters for any historical/drama manga. We have an intelligent, strong witted female lead who is fighting very hard circumstances forced onto her just because of who she was born to. A thoughtful male partner who not only needs to battle his own problems of being a minority race wise but is also merely a servant/slave who is unconventionally having a very friendly relationship with his master (Aki). And icing on the cake is the evil Queen who will do whatever she can to prevent Aki getting what she wants.
Themes of loyalty, conspiracy, love and political battles is the major backbone to this manga (sprinkled with a touch of racial and hierarchy issues) but it takes a great deal of time exploring what the emotional states of it's characters too. This effectively makes the plot quite slow moving but you get to really understand the characters more which I think is a big plus.
The plot is quite slow moving but how the mangaka develops the characters makes it very enjoyable. Aki for example is bent on getting revenge and rise in power so that she can take down Queen Do, BUT she does 'collapse' from time to time to a crying mess and get embraced by Hakusei. I usually hate crying female characters but with this manga I always understand and empathise Aki's feelings when she does break down - this manga is very good with playing your heartstrings so you feel each characters emotions.
Politics wise, the manga uses very basic detail so it is not hard to lose the plot. It makes reading it simpler and therefore for me more enjoyable (because I won't have to pause for ages trying to decipher what IS going on myself).
Aki is the shunned princess and is sent away as a hostage from her kingdom after her mother is poisoned by Queen Do. Hakusei, having grew up with the princess, follows her through and through. Through Aki's wits and courage along with Hakusei's loyalty and bravey, the couple battle against the odds to return to their kingdom and regain what was robbed from them. This is all set in the backdrop of politics/country-to-country relationships where tensions between the four countries are to boiling point.
The themes are more or less what you expect for a historical drama manga and I can't think of any outside the norm. The pacing of the story can be slow for some but I personally feel it is going at the correct pace so that we can understand and grow emotionally attached to characters whilst still have story development in each chapter.
To conclude, I would recommend this manga to anyone who is a sucker for historical drama manga or likes a strong female lead (and no sparkling helpless male bishies following around). So far, I have not found any other historical manga that I have enjoyed as much as this one so I am pretty surprised this is not as famous as I think it should be. Give it a try - I am quite certain it will not let you down. :)
Joou no Hana is a nice read for those who want a rather intelligent heroine, diligent in their martial arts, and willing to act up against the norms of their position and standing. For people who like young, adventurous shounen, you'll probably like this. I dropped pretty early on, so I will be reviewing what I have read (mainly the exposition).
Overall enjoyment: I couldn't come to enjoy the manga right from the get-go, probably because of my preferences of philosophical josei/seinen for this type of setting over comedy and shounen/shoujo. If you enjoy the latter more, I assure you you'll be glued
to this manga.
I personally enjoy this sort of set-up, however some of the genres embedded in the manga do not mingle very well. The story is rather predictable, and the atmospheres do not flow very well into the reader. The scenes that are supposed to describe a feeling of tension are very weak, and many reasons for certain actions and relationships between characters are dull. The settings at the beginning are sort of changing like a roller coaster for me and the events are not really leaving an impression on me.
The romance fan service was nice to go over, though, and the comedy sparked small, small gags in me.
The characters are pretty likable-- their personalities and roles are rather delightful. Some of them were not introduced at their fullest potential though. Many of their appearances were a bit too convenient for the story, which was one of the ultimate killers for me. If you like supposedly cunning and justice licker MCs then have fun with this.
Waiting for your favorite manga to finally get its small screen debut can be tiresome, but when that moment comes, it's usually always worth the wait! Here are 11 manga series, filled with magnificent artwork and stories, that we hope will get their anime adaptations in the near future!