“Song of the Ages” – Utahime: The Songstress (manga) – 9/10 Beach Balls

We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey. ~Kenji Miyazawa

Genre: Drama/Fantasy/Shoujo

Review Status: Complete (1 Volume/ 1 Volume)

Licensed: Yes, this manga is licensed in the US

Art: The art is more airy and sketch-like than, say, CLAMP is. The lines are solid, though, and the shading is done very well, giving the pictures a depth that is nice to look at.

Summary: When the unthinkable happens, it happens in a major way. For centuries, a far-off kingdom has been protected by the nightly singing of the Utahime. This powerful voice is only passed down from one female songstress to another within the Utahime’s bloodline. Then the impossible happens… a male songstress has been born. What follows then is a bitter-sweet and tragic tale revolving around this reluctant Utahime. (from the back cover)

Review: When the natural order of the world has been turned upside-down, what is the nation to do? In this case, nothing- the death of an Utahime has been hidden from the villagers, by the village leader and the brother of the girl who was pretending to be Utahime so her brother could roam the country free. Two years ago he returned in distress at the sound of her voice, only to find her dead, and has taken over the duties of the Utahime. Now the nation’s princess has sought him out, another unnatural birth in this world. They know that never before has this happened, and they are the signs that things should be changing.

The manga delves into the history of the Utahime, the things they must deal with and the pressure they are under. There is a lot of family drama, from Maria who is unable to continue her mother’s work as a songstress, to Kain, who does have the voice of a songstress but is distressed by it, to their friend Thomas who loved Maria and has lost her forever. It also delves into the evils that a country and it’s countrymen will commit and allow when they desire to keep themselves safe.

There is also a one-shot in the back of the manga, titled “Darika”, concerning an experiment to create a ‘child of God’ who brings about enlightenment. The government creates them, attempting to remove negative aspects of their personality, and executing those that find the ‘door’ to those aspects the government doesn’t desire. This is also a very well-told story, quite melancholy, about needlessly throwing away imperfect life.

Overall, though it’s a one-shot, it’s an incredibly touching story of love and duty.

Recommended: 13+. The villagers continue the bloodline by raping the Utahime. An attempt is shown. You see Maria in a pool of blood, though this isn’t a close-up or graphic. In the oneshot, Darika is executed. You merely see the body lying face-down on the ground.

Other titles you might enjoy:
Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms (manga)
Romeo x Juliet (anime)
Ano Hi Mita Hana No Namae Wo Bokutachi Wa Mada Shiranai (anime)
Watashitachi na Shiwase na Jikan (manga)


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