Author: Yuki Midorikawa
Genre(s): Adventure, Drama, Fantasy, Mystery, Shoujo, Tragedy
Setsu is a tomboy who lives in the small village Niolz and she’s been participating in various Martial Arts Competitions in order to earn enough prize money to travel to the capital Bazen where King Lucaria resides… Luca, her childhood friend who left in order to ascend the “Scarlet Chair" as the last rightful heir of the royal line. However when she finally arrives there and gets a glimpse of the King she’s shocked to find a stranger in his place! What’s going on? But more importantly what happened to the real Luca? Join Setsu in her quest to uncover the truth and find that precious childhood friend…
Ah, where do I begin? This has to be one of my favorite manga series ever. EVER.
Meet Setsu, a teenage girl from the village of Niolz. Her only goal is to reunite with her childhood friend Luca, who disappeared from the village five years prior to the story as heir to the scarlet throne (since his mother was the king's favorite mistress). That's all there is to the story, right?
So wrong on so many different levels.
In a wonderful way, of course.
The story is so subtle. It promises lots of action and plot, both of which it gives. But it doesn't pack a punch; the reader won't feel it right away. Instead, it slowly seeps into the reader's mind and heart, like poison. And then the full impact finally comes and it's overwhelming. I had to read it twice to lift all the delicate layers. There wasn't a single superfluous element in this entire story. Each event occurred for a reason, which sometimes wasn't revealed until the very end. Everything enhanced the plot for the better, and created a believable history that helped readers understand the motives of every character.
Speaking of which, the characters were amazingly fleshed out. Like the plot details, the characters of Hiiro no Isu were all perfectly linked together. Take out a single "minor" character and the whole story falls apart. There are no minor characters. Each person plays an important part in the series.
Setsu is our tomboyish heroine; kickass and rash, but not obnoxiously so. She can hold her own in fights and she never sticks her nose into anything that doesn't involve her. She's characterized by her bold and often thoughtless actions, and comes off as slightly mental due to her obsession with Luca. She leads the readers on for most of the series, dressing as either a woman or a man depending on the situation. Her sword skills are rough, but powerful enough for her to defeat the enemy.
Then there's the king, a young man who's taken Luca's position and identity. He's referred to as "His Majesty" until the very end, when he reveals his real name to Setsu. He's the one who taught Luca how to fence (who in turn taught Setsu) after the latter saved his life. The king believes that he lives only for Luca, his savior. So he vows to keep the throne away from the royal family's enemy, the Baji Clan, until Luca's return.
Why is he there instead of the heir himself? Because Luca didn't want to become the king, and take the title of one of the people he hated most. He used "His Majesty" as a substitute at the very beginning, then disappeared after Baji's best assassin stabbed him on their way to the Bazen capital.
Does this make any sense? Is this review coherent? What I'm trying to say is - I couldn't help but like all of the characters. Even the villains have actual reasons that justify their actions. And in the end, the reader can't help but wonder if the true antagonist is the scarlet throne itself, in this incredibly intricate story.
The art is AMAZING. This is one of Midorikawa's earlier works, but her art style isn't much different from that in Natsume Yuujinchou. The art, like the story, is delicate and subtle, light and airy. It has a wonderful "show, not tell" quality, and it lacks background and clothing details so that the readers can focus on the characters and their interactions with each other. I personally loved it.
If you can't tell, I'm seriously in love with this series. Like, this partially inspired my current novel, and that's SAYING something. So, well...I don't want to spoil any more of Hiiro no Isu. So if this weird and inconsistent review sparked an interest in this series, then go! Go! Go to Mangafox and read it now, if you have the time! Or if you're lucky enough to go to a bookstore and buy it, go buy it now! It's worth every cent.
Final score: 5/5 stars! :D
eBook Hiiro No Isu, Volume 01