Ever since the day Ran Kurono's older brother was killed while protecting Sei Ohtori, she has dedicated her skills and life to one day becoming the First Knight of the next head of the Ohtori family, even concealing the fact that she's a woman forever. For generations the Kurono family has served the Ohtori family as their First Knight, but 11 other lower knights with ill intentions of using the Ohtori family's authority vie for that title. Not only that, but Sei is being tested for being suitable for the title of head of the family. Upon entering Saint Locks Academy, the days of both Ran and Sei's trials begin, all the while being helped by Sei's untidy and unrefined fiance, Ibara Tennou.
For some reason, no matter how long it has been, I still find myself thinking about this manga from time to time. I wasn't sure if I even liked it when I first began reading it, but, now, after ruminating on it a while, I'm tempted to add it to my favorites.
This wasn't the first manga that I read that portrayed a female character in a traditionally masculine light. It was, on the other hand, the first one that did so unapologetically. This manga knew that there was nothing wrong with her position and her mannerisms. She didn't look like a girl trying to
look like a boy. She looked like a boy. The story didn't change her over time to fit more fully into gender stereotypes or make her seem weak in little ways to undermine her image. It didn't reduce her to some caricature based off of her sex or even the sex she was meant to portray. She could still fall in love and maintain her wits. She could still feel but control her emotions. She could be both masculine and genuine. She could be both feminine and strong and there was nothing wrong with that. And I really loved that about this manga.
Aside from that, I think the characters as a whole were ones that I admired. If anything... this is one manga that I can't seem to forget.
This manga pertains to the genres which I rejoice the most - gender bender + strong female lead who has to for some reason keep her identity hidden from all. The determination and the will to bear it all with a smile really exhilarates my dampen spirits. Recommended to those who cherish a female taking stand in action physically and trying to fight mentally with her hormones.
The story has an interesting plot but is predictable, and at a constant pace with not many surprises or shocks except one at the climax which can be hinted but the lead and characters keep you hooked to
see them come out the each fight she has to put through to keep her position intact.
“What do you fight for?”
For me, there are two types of manga; Ones that make you feel as if you’re part of their story, living with them, sharing their life as their shadow. Then there are others whose character’s voice is so simple, yet unique that make you forget you’re not really there and that sadly, that is not you.
Ran’s one mission in life is to become First Knight. A promise she made to herself after her brother died protecting his charge, Sei. There is nothing she wants more than to protect Sei, the future of the Ohtori family, even if it means
she will live as a boy forever. It’s a small price to pay in making her brothers dream come true. Being First is never easy, specially when you have eleven other knights who want your title for their own means and are dying to fight you for it. The trial for the First Knight is starting, chivalry has never been so alive.
Let me get the obvious out of the way by saying that Ran is a dead ringer for a very mischievous yet proficient butler I know, but it is safe to assume (so far) that is where the similarities end. In plot alone this manga isn’t out of the ordinary, but it’s separate little elements that really put the puzzle together, and the picture is worth the effort. Between duels, new characters, and King Arthur reference, every page turns brings something new to the already round table.
It’s predictable in it’s romance and lack there of. It's predictability at time make it easy to assume the outcome but there's always some new challenge that give the story an extra spin, making you read a little faster just to see how the action unfolds.
What I found fresh was the first few chapters. They could have easily been boring, actually I expected them to be, but the flashbacks and character introduction fit into everything else that was going on. None of the characters memories were forced on us, it makes you feel as if her memories are an everyday common thing rather then just showing us so we would know and be informed.
It is a shoujo manga, and between all the action and comedy you will still be reminded that romance is just around a corner.
Ran is the perfect guy. Who would have thought the perfect guy would be a girl? Buta a girl she is and strangely, if she chooses, I could see her giving that role off completely and staying a boy, she has the inner strength to do it. She isn’t portrayed as the best fighter, but she does want it more than the competition which is what makes her distinguishable and better than the rest.
I wasn’t going to summarize and other character but Sei reminded me of how I wanted Ageha (Love in the Mask) to be. Sei is everything she is not, that includes and is not limited to not being on my “Character’s I Want to Push of a Cliff List.” Sei and Ran are the main reasons elegant is a word used to describe this manga, even if it might change in the upcoming chapters.
I am trying to debate whether this is a harem or not. It’s a gender bender but harem? I’m not sure.
The art is beautiful, graceful, and elegant and those are the same words I’d use to describe the characters. It takes you back and gives you glimpses of how things used to be, swords and all. That doesn’t necessarily mean that every page is a star gazing for the eyes, no, sometimes you could tell when the details aren’t completely there but those are rare. The details in minor expression in the art is what will make it memorable to some degree, the other being that all the characters are different inside and out, which lately deservers a standing ovation.
Being all that it was, I was surprised that this manga wasn't more popular. But why should it? I mean the protagonist is intelligent, assured and determined. Not to mention strong when it matters. Who wants to read about that when we could read about girls ogling popular guys who don't give them a second glance all while they sleep next to their phones waiting for them to call?
I am guilty as charged.
Why not a ten? The ending didn't leave you with closure. Not in comparison to how much you liked the characters. It was rushed and though it did answer all if not most of your questions the sequence of events felt thrown in to make the package pretty and keep us from complaining about it.
Even with that, it was a great one with amazing art and characters you'll want to meet.
First off, This is a Shoujo manga and it much be treated as such. means kick ass protagonist, obvious plot line, simplicity, drama over drama, and a romantic note with an equally obvious pairing!
If you are not into Shoujo you most probably won't enjoy this manga.
Art: The art is very high Quality and beautiful, just a look inside the manga will give you a very good impression
Ran the protagonist is the archetype of kick ass cross dressing female characters in shoujo manga. Powerful, Beautiful, Kind, Strict, Protective, Honest to the bone, but also Soft, Elegant, Romantic and Caring. The portrayal of
the "perfect man" that only a girl can pull off.
Sei the rich girl, it also follows the Archetype in shoujo with the rich girl being also very kind, elegant, smart, selfless, noble to the bone, all in all a true Queen
Ibara is the character who maybe is not the perfect guy but his goodness and honesty make him very likable
Enjoyment: Personally I enjoy this manga very much and I'm checking for updates everyday but that's only my personal taste.
Finally The Story:
A girl decides to live her life as a man, crossdresses herself and be a noble knight and protects the noble princess! A very successful recipe in Shoujo history.
It follows the standards of the very first shoujo manga, and brings back the wonderful feelings of the times back in 70's (when shoujo masterpieces existed)
Even though the story line is simple: "The first knight fights other candidates white gloved knights for the position of the first knight etc." the plot is open to twists, new characters come and go and even though you might have a view of what may be happened in the end of the story you want to know what kind of twists this story line is capable off. The plot is easy to follow, but not boring to the slightest.
If you are into shoujo manga and philosophy then try it!
Those who are familiar with "Rose of the Versailles" the story even though it is placed in different timeline, it has that kind of aura
Strong points: Art, the nobility of the 3 main characters, very mysterious villains, and the mystery of who is the big bad guy of the story!
a turn off for those who are not into shoujo is that, this manga is the epitome of shoujo :)