Feb 24, 2018
Chinomi-san (All reviews)
✣ ✣ ✣ ✣ ✣ Historical fantasy is always a little fun, thus quite a few shoujo manga are centered on the interesting genre. Add the fact that there are ninjas involved and you already have quite the devoted fan base. That's "Shinobi Life" for you.

✣ ✣ ✣ ✣ ✣ Right from the beginning, this series starts with a little bit of a melodramatic scene. The mangaka paints Beni as an angsty teenager who'd throw her life away to spite her cold-hearted father, but that's only what's on the surface. As we delve into her life, we see that her father's attitude toward her is almost indifferent but also inexplicable, and the reason for that is revealed later in the story. At the start, though, Beni is almost annoying in her demeanor and spiteful words to her dad, but she rounds out as the chapters go on.

Enter Kagetora. He doesn't understand anything of the modern world, so even though he wants to be useful, he depends on Beni to teach him what he needs to know. Upon seeing her, he sees resemblances to the princess and decides from her name that she must be Beni-hime's reincarnation, thus he promises to protect her as he did the princess. The humor is in his reactions to everyday appliances and customs, but he slowly adjusts to living there and follows Beni's orders dutifully.

✣ ✣ ✣ ✣ ✣ As one would expect, the romance of the century is between Beni and Kagetora. If you couldn't tell from the fantastic cover art, their love is a fierce one. Alongside fighting enemies of different time periods, they also battle their feelings for each other. Kagetora adheres to the rules of the past and believes him too lowly to love a princess, and Beni wonders if he's using her as a replacement for the princess of the other generation rather than loving her for herself. The first conflict is pretty stale and stereotypical, but the other is made more intense by the mangaka's portrayal of raw emotion in their faces and muddled thoughts.

While the story started in the present, the bulk of it takes place in the past as they travel back to it. Of course, as a ninja Kagetora has a whole lot of interesting backstory. (The time portal isn't something that can be explained, though; it's just some act of magic.) The way he grew up and who raised him is all revealed when they go back in time, and all of it connects to Beni's existence today. It's an intriguing albeit complicated way of weaving their stories together to make sense of the modern situation.

✣ ✣ ✣ ✣ ✣ As cool as time travel is, though, I have to admit that I'm normally not a huge fan of it. It's overly perplexing, and though it seems to make sense, I still think going back in time to do something for yourself in the past just isn't possible. Nevertheless, the pieces still fit together (I think), so if you're okay with not thinking too hard about the circumstances, it'll be alright. Bias aside, though, I do believe that the amount of time-traveling in this manga is a bit excessive. It's not as brain-hurting as it is in something like "Tsubasa Chronicles," though, so don't sweat it.

I think the majority of the characters in this manga are well-developed or at least have some juicy backstories. One of them in particular has a stark personality change, but the others are pretty deep and have a lot to contribute to the plot.

Some people may think that Beni is aggravating in her spunk and stubbornness, but I can see the reasons why Kagetora and the others like her. She definitely changes from the way she was in the beginning once she realizes what's at stake and what others have been through. At first she seemed like a spoiled brat, but underneath that she really does care about a lot of things. Consequently she transforms into one of the nicest characters.

✣ ✣ ✣ ✣ ✣ Though this isn't my favorite manga, I do realize why a lot of people enjoyed it in its prime. The romance is definitely a huge factor, and time travel is probably cool for most readers. The artwork for me is absolutely stunning. It's not drop-dead gorgeous, but it's definitely better than typical shoujo. I always stare a little longer at the cover of every volume before reading the next chapter. All in all, though, I would recommend it for those interested in historical shoujo and fantasy, and I'm sure anyone who picks it up for the art will be impressed with the story as well.