"On that day, I became the enemy's possession," Nakaba thought as she stood there, knowing her destiny was to be married for convenience to keep the peace between her country Senan and Prince Caesar's country, Belquat; two neighbor countries on an island.
Between the two countries there has been a constant war for 200 years and Nakaba has become a sacrificial lamb for her country despite the discrimination against her red hair and the sub-person (half-human, half-animal) Loki, who is her only friend and attendant at Caesar's estranged palace.
But what will Nakaba do when she foresees an event pertaining to Prince Caesar's demise? Will she save him, or let him die in return to all the hate directed towards her by the people of Belquat?
At first glance, Reimei no Arcana may seem like your oh-so-clichè romance and shoujo manga set in fairytale land. Well guess what? That's totally wrong. Reimei no Arcana has a more deep, almost depressing story behind everything. There's blood. There's violence. There are characters that actually develop instead of just act the same throughout the story. This really isn't the typical romance manga directed at girls.
While it's not the most original plot in the world, Rei Toma executes it beautifully. The princess who has been shunned all her life is in an arranged marriage with a prince that she finds disgusting. After spending some genuine time together and going through certain events, however, they come to understand each other more and more as time goes on. Of course, they then develop actual feelings for each other. But don't be fooled - the story is not all based around a sweet romance. As you read on, you'll discover many things that make you think, "What the heck, is this really a SHOUJO manga?" I'm obviously not going to spoil anybody, but I'm just saying that this manga has more to it than meets the eye.
A perfect 10. The art is simply gorgeous. The girls are beautiful, the boys are handsome. The clothes are wonderfully detailed, and the settings fit in perfectly with the theme. I have absolutely no complaints about art, it's outstanding.
At first, character is nothing very special. Loki is the sweet, caring friend to Nakaba, whereas Nakaba is a princess who's slightly depressed due to her situation, but still attempts to have a somewhat good outlook on life. Until she meets the tsundere prince Caesar, that is. He really is an ass at first, and I admit I disliked him. Thankfully, however, Reimei no Arcana has gorgeous character development. After some certain events happen, you can see how much each character in this manga has grown up.
I simply love romance/shoujo manga that are unique. I enjoy my romance/comedy/school/shoujo manga from time to time, but they get boring very quickly due to a lot of them having nearly identical plots. Reimei no Arcana is a wonderful "hidden gem" of romance manga out there. Full of slowly (but surely) paced romance, wonderful characters, and amazing art, how could you not enjoy this?
If you're looking for a typical cheesy romance where no character development takes place, I advise you to pick up another manga instead of Reimei no Arcana. However, if you're looking for a deep romance manga that actually has an interesting plot and well-developed characters, by all means, read this.read more
Starts with a marriage of convenience between feuding royal families, complicated with racism and bigotry (about hair color and half-human half-animal "subpeople"). The main characters are both stubborn and really hate each other, but what else can this lead to but sweet sweet awkward jealousy. Who should she choose? The enemy with the grand gestures or the loyal friend? You'll be pulled apart, just like our heroin.
This manga is wonderful! A real hybrid of the Shojo and Shouen styles, a complicated romance for the not-girly reader. A really addicting read, and more than the average shojo has to offer. Rei Toma (the author) has created a really fantastic and colorful world to have her characters push back against. Looking forward to the next chapter each week. read more
Reimei no Arcana is a fantasy shoujo manga by Touma Rei, totalling thirteen volumes. We begin our tale at a wedding ceremony, the participants a red-haired girl and a black-haired boy. The girl notes dispassionately that her new husband has crushed her hair in his hand, unbeknownst to the onlookers. This is a marriage of convenience, for the purpose of upholding a treaty to keep the peace between two warring countries, Senan and Belquat. Not only is she of a different nationality to the prince she has married, which automatically makes her unlikable, but she also has filthy, red hair. Why is red hair so bad? Only commoners have red hair, of course.
The manga is set in a medieval fantasy world where those of royal blood have black hair, whilst merchants, servants, and other common folk have other colours in their glossy locks. Not only is it scandalous for a royal to have a hair colour other than black, it is also nearly unheard of. Why would anyone of the nobility want to sully their name by reproducing with someone of a different hair colour, after all? It’s even worse when you throw “ajin” into the mix – also known as “sub-humans”, people with animal characteristics are shunned by society and considered worse than second-class citizens. It is in this crazy world of discrimination and hatred that we meet our main protagonists.
While the story isn’t very original (I am certain you have heard of political and arranged marriages before), it redeems itself through the almost epic scales it hurtles toward. Redemption, revolution, coups, love, betrayal – this is certainly going to be a grand tale. The main (and, I’d honestly argue, only) problem with the plot is that it kicks off rather slow. The first several chapters detail how the main characters play off of one another, interact, and start developing feelings of love or, alternatively, hatred, for each another. One’s mileage might vary, but I can see some people getting rather bored or disillusioned if they expect a hard-hitting thriller right off the bat. (It’s not a thriller, either; sorry if I got your hopes up.) Another aspect of Reimei no Arcana that readers may find themselves trudging through is the politics. It is not laid on thickly, and it is not droned on about for pages at a time, but the intrigue and political affairs of the world the story is set in are still quite important. I rather think the author has gotten politics right, since I was only interested, never jaded.
Due to the fairly placid pace the manga begins with, some important aspects that seem like they ought to be explained as soon as they are introduced are instead shrugged off as if they were never mentioned before. This can at times bring feelings of confusion – did I miss something or is my comprehension just awry? Not to fear, dear reader; everything will be made clear in due time. The errant way the manga tosses plot pieces and names left and right will easily be forgiven once you take a skim through after completing the manga. Speaking of which, there is quite a bit of double-meanings and foreshadowing in certain characters’ words, expressions, and actions. It’s quite pleasant to see how much the author truly had planned in advance and see that reflected in the manga itself.
Our main characters are Nakaba, Loki, and Caesar. Nakaba is the red-haired first princess of Senan, sent as a “sacrificial goat” to Belquat. She is not the shy, weak-willed, and insipid girl that so often plague shoujo manga; in fact, she is self-righteous and knows what she wants. She does not let her husband bully her around, nor does she wallow in despair for being segregated based on her hair colour. She stands above this. She is, however, very much resigned to her fate. As she herself says, only the place she will die has changed by moving to Belquat. At first, she has little interest in bettering herself. This changes, and she becomes an ambitious and motivated woman, and at times even ruthless when it comes to completing her ultimate goal.
Her servant, Loki, is an ajin, a man bearing the traits of a dog. Quiet and loyal, he attentively sees to Nakaba’s every need and ensures her safety. He serves to his princess’ every whim quite selflessly. Then we have Nakaba’s husband, who is none other than Caesar, the second prince of Belquat. He might as well be the exact opposite of Loki; completely unimpressed with the idea of marrying a red-haired princess, he at first treats Nakaba quite poorly and obviously wants little to do with her or her sub-human servant. However, due to a series of events that leave him introspective, he finds that he is quite “hollow”, and decides to try to change this.
While some characters’ actions make them seem extremely unlikable and vexing – case in point, Caesar – they are also understandable. The society they live in, along with their completely outrageous taboos (as we see them), would naturally warp their personalities in such ways. As such, while I do consider some actions to be very much deplorable, I can also see the reasoning and logic to those actions. That brings me to the most wonderful part of Reimei no Arcana, which is easily the fact that every single character has their own motivation. While it’s easy to see what characters you should like or dislike, there’s also the aspect of morality. If you were a blonde prince, wouldn’t you resent your younger brother for having black hair, and thus being immediately more favourable for the throne in the eyes of your own peers?
Too often in manga are characters just cardboard cut-outs with a name and a few traits pasted on. Most of Touma Rei’s characters don’t even fall into complete archetypes (apart from the couple tsundere male characters). A good chunk of them feel realistic enough to stand on their own outside of the manga. Special shout outs go to Cain, Louise, and Guren.
The other characters of Reimei no Arcana are given adequate panel time. As is the case with any manga, some are more developed than others, while a few select characters overstay their welcome. Overall, though, none of the characters are “filler”; all serve a purpose to the plot and the storyline and most get their chance to shine, one way or another. A few characters depict a subtle but welcoming character progression that can only completely be appreciated by flipping back to their first appearance and forward to their final one. There are a few characters that seem to be forgotten and set aside (for example, Leo and Lala), although this can be forgiven due to the calamity of events that occur in their absence.
Despite my praises, I do have some gripes with the characterization in this manga. Namely, my main issue is how quickly Nakaba forgives Caesar’s original treatment of her. In fact, it’s difficult to call it “forgiving”, since she nearly goes on as if it never even occurred. I do believe that a few more chapters detailing her inner turmoil of her feelings and her dignity as well as her empathy for the prince of Belquat would have been helpful in providing some more flesh and realism to the story. Same goes for Caesar, too – while we do have some more insight into his feelings regarding Nakaba, he wasn’t exactly the victim (regarding the two of them), and he wasn’t the one getting his hair pulled or his name spat upon.
Touma Rei’s backgrounds are fairly lacklustre and most leave details to be desired. It’s generally the most “important” aspects (such as the bricks of a wall and the arbitrary desk and chair) that are sketched out in the bare minimum. This is a fairly prevalent issue in a lot of shoujo manga, but I felt it necessary to mention anyway as it does end up affecting my overall opinion of the mangaka’s artistry. Touma makes up for her mediocre backgrounds with quite detailed clothing and character designs. She definitely knows how to draw good looking men and women, even if there were a couple guys I mistook for women at first sight. In retrospect, this was likely on purpose. There is fairly heavy screentone usage in the manga, primarily for shading, clothing, and hair.
Since there is some action in Reimei no Arcana, it’s worth noting that, for the most part, the panels are clean and clear. I only found myself confused at what was happening during action scenes in the first few chapters, and this is mostly due to a distinct lack of detail in the drawings. It could be said that this was on purpose (and by that I mean the details, not the confusion).
I’d highly recommend this manga to anyone looking for something just a bit different. Reimei no Arcana is an intriguing shoujo manga that, for me, was able to blend several genres together – romance, mystery, fantasy, and drama – quite well, and delivered a truly stomach-punching ending that will definitely remain in my mind for a long, long time. This manga made me laugh, it made me cry, and it made me hopeful for a brighter future, both in Nakaba’s world and in mine.read more
Reimei no Arcana is a one-of-a-kind manga. Instead of following the average, archetypal shoujo manga plot, the author has created an excellent work by effectively using plot-twists, great character development, and deep, underlying meaning/foreshadowing within most chapters.
The Plot ~
The plot is well written. I admit that at times in the manga, I felt that I could "see the ending!" only to find that a plot twist--or a major event that affects the entire manga--was put into play the very next chapter. The plot twists and transitions within the story were masterfully executed, and was neither too complex nor simple for the reader to be frustrated and belittled likewise.
The Characters ~
I admit that the characters surprised me the most, probably even more so than the plot.
The prince Ceasar is a male tsundere who eventually does legitimately love his wife, Nakaba. I hated his first few chapters, but as the story progressed, I moved on to pitying him, then to liking him overall. His character changes alot more, and I feel that at times he finally grew a pair and manned up. (in my mind I was like "YES! AMEN BROTHER!")
Princess Nakaba was a character that I found to be likable from the get go. She has a headstrong personality and at times, acts coy, even kuudere-ish. At any rate, in the later chapters, her actions had me slamming my fist on the table going "MMMMM!! YES! Wonderful!" Her personality drives her to do whatever is possible to help the people that she loves and wishes to protect. She made me wonder who was really more of a man between the Ceaser-Nakaba couple.
The Art ~
On the whole, I am not a very big fan of shoujo art. However, this will be the exception--if shoujo art is more like this, than I will most likely read more shoujo manga.
The art is drawn masterfully and the characters do not appear too "pretty" and/or slanted as shoujo/shounen characters have appeared in the past. (Modern Shoujo art?) I felt that the art accurately represented the scenes and that the simple backgrounds gave off a degree of "softness" that hurt my eye less.
This is a great work. If Twisted Romance and Power struggles are for you, than this manga is excellent! Although even if you are not a fan of such, this is a read I advise regardless of your taste...
4.5 / 5 Stars for the ever entertaining, and currently ongoing Reimei no Arcana.