Title: Himegimi to Sanbiki no Kemono
(The Princess and the Three Wild Beasts)
Author: MIYUKI Mitsubachi
Hana to Yume Comics 2009
Oh, there is no doubt that it was the cover for this series that attracted me to it. There is so much going on in it! The artwork and colors are bright and pretty, and the sense of motion makes me feel like this will be a fun adventure type of story. I liked the confident expression on the face of the guy with black hair, and her surprised expression is funny, too. The only thing that bothered me about the cover is the way that his hand doesn’t seem to have a very good grip on that dagger or sword or whatever that is. It looks like he’s about to drop it 🙂 Hana to Yume is so great about publishing this type of action-adventure-Romance type of story. And this one has it all. The interior artwork is clean yet complex, and everyone is just so… pretty. There is a lot of action and intrigue, and the characters are fun to read about. This is only volume 1 of a new series, so I hope it will continue through many more volumes.
The story takes place in a European-looking old-fashioned kingdom, where there are nobles and peasants, and people ride horses and carry swords. This type of kingdom is rather similar to the one in other series I talked about this week, The Lizard Prince. The heroine is a young girl of 15 named Violet. She is the princess of the country, and has lived a sheltered life. Violet is sweet and charming, with long flowing hair and a huge, generous smile. She can be mischievous, but her antics are usually a reaction to her strict upbringing. Her father passed away 5 years ago, and since then, her mother has been very strict and controlling. Violet can’t go anywhere or do anything. She chafes at the restrictions she lives under, and dreams of becoming a bird who can fly away and escape.
Her wish is about to come true, in a way, thanks to the arrival of a mysterious letter. It’s actually an advance-notice warning from a famous group of thieves. This is a common trademark in anime and manga. Mysterious thieves like to warn their victims with calling cards as a challenge to authorities stop them if they can. For examples of this, see Cat’s Eye and Saint Tail. So, an advance notice has arrived at the palace, warning that they are going to steal the treasure that the deceased king left to his beloved daughter Violet. This is a worrisome threat, made worse by the fact that the Queen has no idea what this “treasure” is.
They would ask Violet about it, but she is not in her rooms. Violet has sneaked out and is currently hiding in a tree in the small garden on the castle grounds. It’s as close to freedom as she can get. In the garden, Violet is trying to rescue some baby birds who have fallen from their nest when she encounters a mysterious stranger. (Gee, I wonder if he is responsible for that advance warning notice? Ya think? 🙂 He is slim and dashing, dressed in black, with dark hair to match. He doesn’t say anything, but he helps Violet help the birds, then disappears. Who was that masked man? Her heart pounds just thinking of him.
When Violet returns and hears the news about the upcoming theft, she is just as clueless as everyone else. She has no idea what this treasure is, and why they would want to steal it. And who is this group of thieves anyway? They are called Sanjuushi, which is like a trio, or a wild three musketeers. Each one takes after an animal. They are the Hebi (Serpent) who can slip through any door, the Kitsune (Fox) who has a hundred masks, and the Karasu (Crow), who can slip into the night and fly through the sky. The news that these beasts will be stalking something in the castle has everyone upset.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, the Queen informs Violet that she has set up an omiai, or a meeting for an arranged marriage, for her. Violet is shocked and upset. They agreed she wouldn’t marry until she was 18! But the Queen is firm on this point. Violet will meet with Prince Emilio! Poor Violet. Can you blame her for wanting to escape? She doesn’t feel any affection for her strict Queen and her henchmen, she only longs to be free.
Thus, when the thieves actually show up — Hebi is first to arrive, slipping easily into her room — Violet isn’t exactly eager to sound the alarm. She is more curious about them. Was that man she met earlier Karasu? The other two quickly appear, and it is! The man from the garden is Karasu! Even though they seem threatening at first, Kitsune and Hebi actually behave rather immaturely, making jokes and being silly. Karasu is all seriousness, though, and he wants the treasure. Their visit is disrupted, and they leave in a hurry, vowing to return later. Violet is sad to see them go, and very thoughtful.
They do eventually return, and Violet discovers what they are after. She also discovers an amazing bond past between herself and Karasu. Is that what motivates the silent thief? He is not as cold and unemotional as he appears. He is tied to Violet in a surprising way. Their attempted theft is once again interrupted, but this time, Violet decides to throw herself into the middle of the action, resulting in her saving Karasu, and being carried away by the three thieves. More action ensues, including capture, a daring rescue, and hints of romance. After all of her amazing new experiences, Violet makes a decision. She will stay with them! She would much rather escape the castle and travel with Karasu, Hebi, and Kitsune, especially after she realizes her tie to Karasu and recognizes the strong bond between the thieves. They are reluctant at first, but her strong will is soon apparent.
Thus begins the adventures of Violet and her three beast guardians as they travel the country, getting into various adventures. Each chapter has them arriving at a new place, meeting new people, and experiencing a new difficulty to solve. There is the continuous thread of plot involving the budding relationship between Karasu and Violet, and there are some running gags involving Kitsune’s flamboyant affection for Violet which causes him to try to hug her, which in turn causes Karasu to shut him down hard in a very amusing fashion.
The artwork, as I mentioned before, is very pretty, with delicate lines and a clean feel, yet also having a lot of detail in the hair and clothing. The action is depicted well, and Violet is a fun character. She is sheltered, but not dense. She is brave, but not foolish, and she has a strong will that allows her to make firm decisions. Let the adventures begin!