Manga-ka: Sanae Rokuya
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Released: June 2008
Synopsis: “Yasuharu, unwilling to assume the responsibility of successor to the throne, escapes from the castle and assumes a peaceful, anonymous life. But can one really escape his fate? One day, he saves the life of a foreigner named Jiei. Asked why he has come to this land, the foreigner places a hand on Yasuharu’s throat and whispers, “I have come to kill you.””
Red is the story of a runaway Prince named Yasuharu. Unable to handle the pressure of taking the throne, he hides away in town trying to live an anonymous life. Protecting his secret is a law officer who was once a guard in Yasuharu’s palace, and a young man that the Prince took into his home after first running away. Things are disrupted one day when Yasuharu saves a foreigner named Jiei, a man who is actually (and openly) an assassin there to kill him.
While I did enjoy aspects of the plot itself, the greatest failing I found while reading this book was how unchanging the mood was. The whole thing had a very low-key feeling and even when fight scenes occurred and events were meant to be dramatic, it still remained at the same pace and the same calm mood. It made it really hard get attached to what happened or feel much for it. When reading a book about assassins, samurai and political intrigue, I expected a little more in the way of oomph. It was all just kind of… blah.
Despite my problems with the story’s overall unwavering mood, Sanae Rokuya has a nice art style that suits the tone of the story really well. It worked nicely with the feudal era the plot takes place in and the men look masculine (with the exception of one for plot reasons) and attractive in their yukatas. One thing that irked me was the dramatic-artistic revelation of Jiei’s identity as a foreigner when I didn’t think it looked much different from other characters, all of whom had similar facial structures and unfilled in hair.
Overall, Red was a fairly interesting book that unfortunately fell short of being very entertaining. There isn’t much in the way of boys’ love, nor enough of a story to keep me very enthralled. While the pacing was decent, and the art was pretty attractive, there just isn’t enough here to raise Red up from being decidedly average.