Tail of the Moon: Prequel: The Other Hanzo(u)

Rinko Ueda, Author, Rinko Ueda, Illustrator . Viz $8.99 (192p) ISBN 978-1-4215-3053-6

Tail of the Moon , the original medieval/romance/comedy series, probably wasn't crying out for a prequel, but fans of the long-running manga will probably find it gratifying. However, it exists at such a specific intersection of historical fiction, shonen action and over-the-top shojo melodrama that unless a reader demands all three, individual parts may fail to impress. During the warring states period in Japan, an amnesiac girl named Kaguya is taken in by a brothel and assumes the role of housekeeper in exchange for room and board. The only clue to her past is the wicked moon-shaped scar on her back, which also makes her unfit for the bordello bedroom. One day a rakish swordsman named Hanzou appears, and to everyone's surprise but the reader's, spurns the advances of the other girls for Kaguya's attention. It comes as no shock either that these two share a past or that against her better judgment Kaguya finds herself uncontrollably smitten. The manga sometimes struggles to strike a comedic tone, but most of the humorous elements seem unintentional. Ueda's art occasionally makes up for this, and her fight choreography shows significant virtuosity. (June)

Reviewed on: 04/27/2009
Release date: 06/01/2009
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