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. 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 not much has happened, yet. 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. So frankly, she was just feeding her fans to keep them keen. It was like she thought "oh, fans are getting bored...quick! throw in some lovin'". It was delicious but not really needed.
This manga is still on-going. The story is being sterilized in a magazine, so the chapter releases are slow. I am following this mainly for the art as I am in awe of Inariya's designs more than anything else. The story is not something I would normally read but I still find it interesting, and as of 21 chapters we have enough story to understand who Sui and Douman are and what they are trying to achieve; enough to kept me continuing the series. Also, the small taste of their bond has left me dying to read more!
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. Also, I encourage anyone who appreciates great art, likes supernatural scenes and aches for forbidden romance--I say forbidden because the characters must choose between love and their duty--to give this ago.
Thanks for reading.
Story 7 | Art 10 | Character 8 | Enjoyment 9 | Overall 9 read more