In short : "Only recommendable to those caring only about eye candy."
It may be odd for some that I start with the art, but since this manga only possesses one redeemable quality, I decided to start with it right off the bat.
You got it, the art is good. Not outstanding, but good enough to visually satisfy various bishie types. And that’s basically it since landscapes and backgrounds are forgettable.
So could I state something negative regarding this short section ? Well, yes, the design of those said bishies are way too reminiscent of Hakuoki. In that regard, there’s a complete lack of inspiration of originality (though, the mangaka merely took the design of the source material). And that undermines the totality of the work.
19 chapters… 19 chapters where almost nothing happens. Is there any type of build up ? Development ? Bonding ? No. Oh, not that the mangaka isn’t trying, but it feels like the work of an amateur having no knowledge about writing and sloppily trying to get around what a story is supposed to be like, but ultimately failing at the execution/delivering. Now you could say : but maybe that’s it ? Maybe she WAS a newbie at that time ? Sadly enough, she had 25 other mangas behind her at that time. 25, and she’s worse than many newbies.
Another excuse that could be found is that this is based upon an otome game, but I have read otome adaptations before. I have seen others. Even if they are rarely noteworthy, I cannot recall one as low in terms of quality as this one.
But anyway, let’s go to the core of the subject. I did say almost nothing happens but she tries, right ? Well, this can be mainly perceived in the first chapter and during the forelast arc ; basically the only moments where something does happen. Though, it doesn’t really matter in the end and it is resolved too easily to be satisfying in terms of writing.
The rest is…hollow…even hollower I mean. Most are spent to try having the heroine and one male getting closer, and they do. Somehow, because the key points that should lead to that are inexistent or at best ghostly “figures”. They bond because they have to and that’s literally everything there is to it. And, yes, you can find that in many otome adaptations, but at least most of them do have key points.
Those not dedicated to bonding try to flesh out the characters – through background - but not only do they feel off and only rarely lead to something, they horribly lack of key points as well.
You can also add various plotholes, a rushed second half, abandoned threads and its load of conveniences on the plate. I do not know how good the original game was, but if it was similar, it should have been the mangaka’s duty to fix its issues up.
Naturally, the issues present in the story can also be found regarding the characters, so I shall try avoiding repeating myself too much.
Let me add that as much as I’m aware that the female lead is usually bland to supposedly help the females to put themselves in her shoes, this lead’s blandness is particularly tiring. Despite not possessing many traits, she’s still able to act questionably – read “borderly” incoherent” enough that I raised my eyebrows in every issues. She also possesses the unique ability to trip on thin air regularly those to trigger “events” and if it mainly summaries to “are you ok ?” and poor girl being helped to stand up again or having to choose whose hand she’s going to take – such tension ! – it is to my utter surprise none came up with the idea of bringing her to a doctor as I’d almost suspect this woman to suffer from neurological disorder. Now, I do understand that being taken care of by a good-looking guy can be appealing to some, but as this example showed you, not only is it repetitive, it isn’t even trying to be interesting and arguably makes the assumption a woman unable to as close as walk properly is a good avatar for the audience ; it’s, of course, only personal, but I do not wish to identify with someone failing at walking, hot guys or not.
(oh and she knows archery…but do not worry, it’ll only serve at the very end, there are no attempts to make her active otherwise)
As for the others, I’ll keep it short : The main antagonist seems to have a story with the girl’s ancestor and if it’s briefly touched upon it is never really explored. That aside, he’s as shallow as every male (one has a friendship with another friend and the manga tries to develop on that, but you know it doesn’t work for the reasons already mentioned ; another comes from the same place as the heroine, and that’s simply forgotten and…that’s almost literally it ; “almost” because if it tried with the others I already forgot about it), his traits so loose and rare that he and the other males can’t even fit into the “stereotype” box at this point. And that’s to say something because you have ghostly stereotypes and the other males are…there….some of them are even more transparent than some antagonists (which are as poorly treated as the rest, of course). Which is an achievement on its own, I guess ?
All in all, they are literally reduced to eye candy. The vain attempts to make it “more” fail to deliver and only reinforce the impression this manga is literally relying on bishies and strictly that to sell itself. Which is kind of insulting… Oh, if it was pure fanservice, I wouldn’t half as mind, but, you see, it’s offending because it does try being more. But the trials seem closer to lies or poor cover ups than sincere attempts to do “something” with the base material. And that is probably the biggest issue of all this.
I won’t lie, some of the males suit my tastes and some drawings were nice to look at… And that’s where my enjoyment stops. Well, if you can call that “enjoyment”, it didn’t exactly counter the constant annoyance during the first half, the sighing, the facepalms, the rolling. The second half ? Eh…I just gave up. I felt hollow, which is a second achievement to add with my short-tempered nature.
A really bad manga, mainly because the mangaka doesn’t seem to know even the basics of writing. Really, I wouldn’t recommend it to those who played the game, or people liking these types of stories in general. Only one type of people could enjoy this : if you want eye candy before anything else, you’ll be satisfied, but if you even as close as care for the rest… Yeah…avoid it…