Manga Review: “The Lion and the Bride”

Title: ラィオンと花嫁 / Lion and Bride / The Lion and The Bride
Mangaka: 桜みか / Mika Sakura
Japanese Publisher: Akita Shoten Publishing / Petite Princess Magazine
English Language Publisher: Media Do Company
Demographic: Shoujo
Genre: High School Romance

ASIN (English Language Electronic Version):
Volume 1: B07758HDTW
Volume 2: B07758CHGK

ISBN (Japanese Language Print Version):
Volume 1: 9784253198264
Volume 2: 9784253198271
Volume 3: 9784253198226

Synopsis:
After losing her parents and grandmother, high school senior Yua marries her teacher. When she moves into his apartment, she discovers her husband has a son from his first marriage. Unfortunately, his son is the surly pretty-boy model in her class. The series follows Yua’s senior year as she juggles the secret of her marriage and being the stepmother to a child her same age.

Initial Thoughts: The premise is very similar to Faster than Kiss, but less idealized. I want to see where this goes.

Break down (Note: This review is based on reading volumes 1 and 3 in Japanese and volumes 1 and 2 in English.)

Artwork — B: The covers are gorgeous. I love the soft watercolor-look and the color themes for each main character. The comic artwork isn’t anything special, but it isn’t bad either. Emotions are effectively displayed through facial expressions and body positioning and the backgrounds support the illustrations without overshadowing them. The paneling is easy to follow and the images are balanced. My biggest complaint is that the three main characters all have the same face and are only differentiated by hair style and the presence of glasses.

Presentation

Japanese Version — B: There are no color pages, but the covers are pretty. At times, the text was too small and I had to use a magnifier to make out the kanji.

English Version — D: The English version looks like a bad scanlation. The lettering is horrible. The font used has bad kerning and often the periods blend into the last letter in the sentence making it look as though there is no period. The translation is bland, but I can’t blame the translator much because the Japanese is flat too. On top of that, there are no color pages, not even the covers.

Story — C: There was so much potential with this, but it never came to fruition. The main character Yua’s only motivation is ideal marriage which leaves her personality to be the chores she does. Yua may as well be furniture. Because she more like a stage, it leaves the story to truly be about the father/son relationship. It is a male coming of age story centered around what to do with this piece of “furniture” that gets passed from household to household. Because of this, the male characters, particularly the son Tsubaru, are far more interesting than Yua. I imagine for many readers this is a turn off. I stuck with it because I knew how the series ended and I wanted to see the journey to the end. When I think of it as Tsubaru’s story, I like it. But that’s not what it was supposed to be, so in that sense it’s a failure.

As for the story mechanics, the fast pace and brevity helped me to get through a basic story premise that I don’t like. The story sticks mainly to the Yua, the teacher, and his son Tsubaru. There are only two other side characters which keeps the story focused and lean. The usual shoujo tropes are packed into the story. Many of the student/teacher tropes are smashed and unmasked as fantasy. I did enjoy that.

Overall, I was satisfied with story and I liked Tsubaru’s journey from boy to man. The teacher also undergoes a similar journey where he goes from the male fantasy of a teenage wife to the reality of a 30-something man being married to a teenager. Unfortunately, there is no journey for Yua. Despite being proactive for a page or two in the final volume, she’s still just a piece of furniture that’s being passed around.

Readability (Japanese) — Easy:  Most of the vocabulary will be familiar to shoujo readers and there are furiganas to help. I only had to look up a few words. The sentences aren’t complicated, nor overly long, and there isn’t much slang. Also, the mangaka’s handwriting is legible.

Overall:

Japanese Version B-
It’s a quick read, Tsubaru is interesting, and the artwork is nice enough. As long as you don’t think about the feminist aspects too hard, it’s enjoyable enough.

English Version C-
The presentation does the Japanese version a disservice. But the translation reads smoothly which leaves it somewhere just below mediocre. If you can read Japanese, then I recommend the Japanese version over the English translation.

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