Inariya Fusanosuke has the ability to give you a history lesson with some breathtaking art, defined characters and above all: amazing forbidden romance.
Hari no Hana (Quartz Flower) is based in the Japanese Chowa Era (1015 A.D.) where a junior priest, Ashiya Douman, and his companions have been employed to abolish a curse afflicting the Emperor's eyes. That's basically the make-up of the plot, however, the story is centered around two people: Douman (a priest with red hair, golden eyes and a seal of the beast tattooed on his forearm) and Suikei Ajari (a priest who saved Douman as a child and is bound by his
curse--you find out in later chapters).
The chapters tend to go back and forth in time. This is definitely Inariya's style of plot-structure. She never tells the story as a whole upfront, instead gives you the action and suspense followed by back story in small doses, chapter by chapter, teasing and taunting with certain scenes and events. Frankly, it's frustrating and confusing until you get satisfying answers, although, I tend to find myself asking "what just happened?" a lot.
History is not my forte' and nether is Japanese folklore or magic. I struggled with the types of curses and items used in spiritual rituals. Although, there was nothing Wikipedia couldn't explain and the translated side-notes did help. I just want to forewarn readers: there is a lot of supernatural scenes and action based around historic Japanese mythology. Not enough to deter you but some find it very confusing, like I did.
Inariya's art is in a class of her own. I am drawn to her works and find them artistically outstanding. Her scenes of action are sprayed out over the panels with exaggerated movements, it's almost like her fabric dances with the characters themselves; she has amazing eye for costumes and clothing. Her works are just gorgeous. One happy fan here.
This is tagged as yaoi and without giving too much away there is not a lot of lovin'. There is only one love scene from side characters and I felt that it was thrown in to prove to readers that it is a boy love and to show the extent of her smut.
Now that I have finished this (at 29 chapters) I am truly disappointed in the ending. At first, I was not 100% sure what happen. I then re-read and read it again to finally grasp an understood of the conclusion but it's not a satisfying one. Not in the least. Inariya really does love bitter-sweet endings.
The story is not something I would normally read but I still find it interesting and I just love Fusanosuke's art. I would recommend this to someone who likes to take their time and absorb the events slowly; this is a complex story and needs your full attention.