Several times I have pondered on the duality of story and characters; I could understand having a lousy story and yet still having interesting characters, but a decent story with crummy characters? That made no sense for me since characters make up the story! However, this manga is a perfect example of that case that I could not get my head around.
What the story offers at first is a glimpse at the past through some characters searching for events long since passed, some very awkward romance and nonsensical adventures as the story goes on, however its true value lies in the variety of historical flashbacks
and references, mostly connected to the last imperial family of Russia, back in ~1900, but there are some other interesting events as well, such as the Tchaikovsky’s death circumstances. There are numerous details and theories and while not all of them are fact checked, they still provide enough insight and interest to keep the reader, far more than what happens in the present.
The motif of said adventures is usually the same; someone appears (it may be our male main character who keeps going away for unknown reasons all the time), they are somehow connected to the past through artifacts or bloodlines or both and our young protagonist takes it as her mission to solve the “puzzles” that are hidden in the past to heal wounds and uncover the truth. Although it does not sound bad, the sheer amount of cheesy and meaningless interactions combined with over the top, dramatic sequences just ruins whatever magic the present time could give. Nevertheless, even those drawbacks do not bring down the general quality of this.
The characters become less and less interesting as time goes by and they seem to be declining in their development as a whole. The start of the manga is promising with the introduction of the main cast and the idea of following a linear story to the end, as it is a rather short piece of work, but it quickly changes to abrupt change of scenes (and even time periods) and fluctuating actions and emotions leaving the reader wondering what happened to them really. It really tries to give some background to the male main character towards the end, but by then it does nothing because it adds even more new information which does not fit with the rest, while our girl is always looking somewhere at the horizon and seemingly having love troubles in her own head.
Art-wise, there is nothing too special; the characters are easily distinguishable, they change clothes often, the proportions seem right, while the backgrounds are usually nothing out of the ordinary. On the other hand, there is much detail when it comes to the artifacts which are really the core of this story. As a whole, it definitely gives off a more “shoujo” vibe, with slender limbs and big eyes.
I cannot say that I did not enjoy it. Considering the number of complaints I have for this manga, I liked reading about the past a lot. It could have been because I lacked parts of the information it had and thus, I felt I learnt more about history on some level and it was interesting seeing how the past could have turned out. It is definitely worth a chance!