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review 2015-07-08 06:39
The Scarlet Chair (Hiiro no Isu)
Hiiro No Isu, Volume 02 - Yuki Midorikawa

This is a review to the Indonesian edition published by Elex Media Komputindo (2013).

 

I have to admit that I was confused the whole time I was reading this manga. First of all, I had a trouble on telling which characters are male and which characters are female. I had the same problem on Natsume Yuujinchou (and Mushishi actually, but that is out of topic). Maybe the mangaka does have an issue on that, or maybe the mangaka intended to imply a message that most personality traits are independent to gender – or something like that.

 

Second, I was confused with the whole conspiracy that is going on this manga. The story follows Setsu, a girl who seeks to meet Luca, the newly crowned kind who happens to be Setsu’s childhood friend in the countryside. Luca’s mother, the former king’s concubine, was exiled due to her being accused as a rebel. Turned out that Luca is the only child of the deceased king, thus he was summoned by one of the retainers to be crowned as the new king. However, the newly crowned king Setsu met in the capital city is not the Luca that she knew. Who is that king? What happened to the real Luca? What did actually happen to Luca’s mother, that she had to be exiled? Will Setsu be able to see Luca again?

 

Third, back to the difficulty of telling who is what, I also had a trouble telling who is who in some panels. Many characters look similar to each other, so I had to pay a close attention to their distinguishable characteristic. The king, especially, was difficult to tell apart from Setsu when they were together in a panel without having Setsu has her ponytail on. Sometimes the mangaka wouls show hints of gold on his hair color, but the other times he just look like a blonde, just like Setsu.

 

I have known Midorikawa Yuki through her strange heartwarming and bittersweet stories such as Natsume Yuujinchou and Hotarubi no Mori Ie. To be honest, I also expected this manga to be heartwarming or bittersweet. Maybe it is intended to be like that, considering the complicated nature of the relationship between the characters. Though, the confusion rose from reading this manga ruined the expected mood.

 

On the good side, I am happy to see many strong female characters in this manga. Seems that prominent female figures in the military are not uncommon in this manga’s realm. Besides the tomboyish Setsu who made a living from duels, there was Luca’s mother and her best friend. I like how the manga focuses more on the emotional bond between the characters, especially on friendship, rather than pointing out gender differences (role-wise). I also like how the relationships in this manga are more on friendship than romance. In addition, despite the difficulty to tell some of them apart, I like the complex characterization of each one in the manga. Almost each character, if not all, has their own story. This manga could be longer to explore each of them even more and make the whole story clearer, but overall I do not mind this story to be wrapped out in just three volumes either.

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