It's the middle of the Meiji Era and our heroine, the little Suzu, is sold to the red lights district. However, the rich heir of a dry-goods store Tsugaru buys her freedom for no apparent reason. She is deeply grateful for being saved, but she doesn't understand why he paid so much money for her and the only explanation he offers is "we have a bond." She tries to unravel the mystery of his feelings and gradually grows from a little girl to a young woman, always by his side. A gentle and slow-paced love story set in the Meiji Era.
I really hope this series gets translated in English faster! It's such an intriguing and gripping story. I'm following the Chinese translations and let me tell you guys - this manga is worth reading. Since no one has written a review yet... spoiler-free review below. (TLDR at the very bottom)
Easily the best thing about this series. I started reading Meiji Hiiro Kitan because I was interested in the premise of a Memoirs of Geisha type of love - and I wanted to see how the mangaka would portray Suzu and Tsugaru's romance without me having a gag reflex over their age gap. Because clearly,
you cannot deny, Suzu looks like she's 10.
HOWEVER! I got hooked onto this manga not because of the romance, but because of the actual plot. There's mystery, there's a little action, a lot of guessing-games, very interesting bad guys, ~~romantic tension~~, family drama, illegal business happenin' in the neighborhood, a liiiitle bit of reverse harem (yay), and some comic relief. I thought the whole series would continue being about Tsugaru helping people find things with Suzu as his assistant, but don't be misled by the earlier chapters! The main plot gets started and really starts rolling after the appearance of someone related to Suzu. (I believe this is around Chapter 16)
At first, I thought the problem would be solved and it would be kind of like an "arc" but nooo things just get more and more interesting and spiral out.
And what about the romance? Well, it's definitely very gentle and slow-paced, as the summary on MAL says. But I wouldn't have it any other way -- my pedo alert has never gone off in this manga (for Tsugaru, at least) which is such a huge sigh of relief. They're still super cute together though, don't worry - romance is still a core part of the manga.
The Josei categorization of this manga is correct - I recommend it to people 16+ because there are mature themes (no, not you pedobear) and some violence.
I really like it, and it's the reason I chose to read Meiji Hiiro Kitan over other similar manga. I'm sure you guys can tell from the picture on MAL - beautiful. Plus, it's in the Meiji era! Men wear kimonos AND suits! Best of both worlds.
Trying to keep this spoiler free...
Suzu is our little heroine and is the main character of the story. A lot of the plot revolves around her. She definitely acts very mature for her age, but her childishness does show through. She's super cute looking, and I do wish the mangaka drew her to look a little older because she acts that way. BUT, she does get drawn to look a little more mature as the manga goes on.
Tsugaru is the man who bought her, and he is really a great guy. I'm very impressed by how caring and gentle he is - no wonder Suzu fell in love with him! He's pretty clever, handsome, cool, and... yeah. There's nothing about him that I can hate, really. And his intentions and morals are clear. You go, Tsugaru!
If these two don't sound very three-dimensional to you, that's okay because I kind of agree. They're both clever as hell though. However, the truly interesting characters are people I am hesitant to mention because I can't give spoilers. But I will say that the "bad guys" of this manga are really something. Their pasts are incredibly well fleshed out.
I haven't read anything in Chinese for years and I still painstakingly got through 40 chapters of Chinese characters with the help of my rusty Chinese and android translation app! This manga is worth it! :) I hope English translations come out faster, but definitely give this series a shot.
OVERALL: 9 - a great manga!
TLDR: IF YOU'RE LOOKING FOR A SUPER FLUFFY ROMANTIC PEDOBEAR MANGA THIS AIN'T IT. BUT IF YOU WANT MYSTERY, ENJOY KIMONOS/MEIJI ERA THINGS (WHO DOESN'T), MATURE THEMES (NOT SEXYTIMES...PLZ SHE'S A STILL A CHILD), GASP-WORTHY SCENES AND RELEVATIONS, BEAUTIFULLY DRAWN ART, CLEVER HEROINE, AWW MOMENTS BETWEEN YOUR SOON TO BE OTP... this is the manga for you. Thanks for reading the review!