The story starts with a 5-year-old Lynn traveling with her Japanese mother to England to meet her father. On their way there Lynn and her mother get into a tragic car accident in which Lynn's mother dies. After getting out of the hospital Lynn moves to live in a manor owned by her father who is an English nobleman. The motherless little girl tries to adjust to high society life and get the approval of her elder step sister, Sara, whose mother has also passed away. At first Sara seems cold and distant towards her new younger sister, because she fears that Lynn's open and cheerful personality will win over the attention of their father as well as the handsome young man who lives nearby, but...
The synopsis doesn't really do this manga justice. Basically, Lady!! is an extended, melodramatic Cinderella story, although with a much more convoluted plot dynamics. Still, if you are looking for a melodramatic shoujo romance that is a little bit different, Lady!! is worth trying out.
The main character, Lynn, is an incredibly loving girl, caught between her dead mother's family in Japan, and her father's aristocratic family in England. Essentially, because her birth mother wasn't aristocratic, she isn't fully accepted by her English family, so she mostly lives in Japan. On her side stand her sickly half-sister Sarah, her
busy father, and the two rich and handsome neighbor boys, all of whom love her and want her to live in England. Opposed to Lynn stand her powerful English grandfather, her step mother (her father is on his third wife), and her two cruel step-siblings, all of whom seem to delight in torturing her.
The story is fine, if a little bit too melodramatic for my taste. The real problem is that the step-mother's extreme hatred of the little girl (she's 5 when the manga starts; 16 when it ends) is never adequately explained. The step-mother is willing to destroy her own family in order to deny Lynn happiness, which just seems way out of proportion to any imagined slights that the little girl may have possibly committed.
Other than that one, admittedly quite large, fault this is a quite good manga. The cast of characters is huge, but handled well; the art is distinct for each character, all of them have individual personalities, most of them grow and mature in realistic ways throughout the manga, and I generally liked where almost all of them ended up.
The artwork is excellent, if pretty old-school. The setting and plot is very different from most of your standard shoujo manga, and just for that reason it manages to avoid most of the standard shoujo tropes.
Lady!! is a shoujo manga set in a world of debutante balls and equestrian races, and has an evil step-mother straight out of a Disney movie, all of which are things I didn't really care for. But when I looked a little deeper, I found a manga about the search for love, family, and growing up--and that was a manga I quite enjoyed reading.