“A Love In Time…” – Red River (manga) – 9/10 Pools

Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past. ~Anonymous

Genre: Historical/Romance/Supernatural/Action/Shoujo/Adventure

Review Status: Complete (28 Volumes/28 Volumes)

Licensed: Yes, this manga is licensed in the US.

Art: This was started in ’95, and it does show a bit. Our main’s hair is a little on the large side, and her clothes are very much from that era. However, the lines are clean, the shading is well-done, the detail in the pictures looks very nice. If you can forgive the slightly-dated look, then this is above-average.

Summary: A seemingly ordinary modern day teenager, Yuri, is suddenly whisked away to the Hittite empire in ancient Anatolia, where an ambitious queen wants the girl for a blood sacrifice in order to murder all heirs but her son, thus seizing control of the throne. Luckily, the timely intervention of Prince Kail saves Yuri from the queen’s grasp. Kail promises to send Yuri back to her home, but the queen’s persistent schemes to kill them both, plus their growing feelings for each other, keep those plans delayed. (Source: Wikipedia)

Review: They don’t write a whole lot of shoujo like this one. From the beginning, this marks itself out as a gritty, fairly realistic historical manga, mixing a few bad clichés (such as Yuri being irresistible to every powerful foreigner that comes along) with a whole ton of inventiveness and novelty. The good guys are flawed, the bad guys are repulsively evil. You get a taste of this in the first two volumes, when two people that helped Yuri and looked like people she loved have terrible ends- one by being skinned, another by being hanged.

The ultimate goal of trying to get Yuri back to her time, avoiding her death and foiling the plans of Kail’s stepmother, is remembered throughout the series. That is what all the plots center around, all the internal politics that swirl around Yuri and Kail, and the international politics between Anatolia and Egypt. These hold true to events that occurred during that time, as far as historical records can enlighten us. The things that might be less detailed still hold to a great deal of realism, with nepotism and birth order and murder all entwining to make things difficult for our heroine and her Prince. They have serious opposition from both family and rulers of city-states, and must deal with civil war as well as the threat of invasion.

What was nice was that it was realistic and gritty enough that my brother ended up perhaps even more addicted to the series than I was. He enjoyed the action and politics, and found the relationship aspects to it to be realistic and low-key enough to not bother him. So this title is definitely one that has a strong crossover ability for its demographic.

The characters help pull this story off beautifully. Kail may have taken Yuri in as seemingly a whim, but is clever enough to have known it would vex his stepmother. He has depth as a character, deftly manipulating politics to favor him, while being more than just a typical love interest to Yuri. Yuri is a modern girl, and her sensibilities and knowledge of that both are an advantage and disadvantage. What might gain her popularity among the commoners often works against her in court. She grows from a somewhat impulsive girl to one that thinks over her actions, acting out of thought and wisdom. As they work together and deal with various incidents that threaten both their lives, the attraction grows from lust into genuine feelings. It’s far from overnight, and feels deeper and more real (and realistic) than those of many shoujo manga.

This isn’t always happy. There isn’t a good ending for a good deal of characters. Those that manage to survive don’t have easy lives ahead of them. But this does have its moments where there is tenderness and joy, and affirmations of life and love.

Overall, this is a shoujo that pushes traditional boundaries, and becomes memorable for it.

Recommended: Mature readers only! 16+ at least, since there is death both on page and off page. Some tend to be particularly powerful ones. There is attempted rape a few times, and undetailed scenes of sex are occasionally depicted, or sex is implied. There is some language, but it is relatively rare and never more powerful than the b-words.

Other titles you might enjoy
Emma: A Victorian Romance (anime and manga)
Fushigi Yuugi: Mysterious Play (manga or anime)
From Far Away (manga)
InuYasha (manga or anime)
Saver (manga)
The Story of Saiunkoku (anime)
Twelve Kingdoms (anime or manga)
Samurai Champloo(anime)


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