In a fantasy world, a princess, scorned by the royal family, is married off to the prince of a neighboring kingdom in order to form peace, albeit a shaky one. What sets apart this story from similar ones with the same premise is what the two accomplish in their union: They don’t fall madly in love, the end. No, they set off in separate ways to prevent war between their two nations. They try to save Ajin, otherwise known as “sub-people” as they are part-human, part-animal, from slavery and persecution. They fight against fate, one as the traitorous prince, the other as a princess who can see the future.
Princess Nakaba, the princess I previously mentioned, has what is called the Arcana of Time. With it, she can see the past, present, and future. These arcana provide a mystical element to an otherwise borderline realistic setting. My gripes with this element is that they seemingly randomly pop-up in characters as a throwaway device. Sure, this was only the case with one character, but that one time was enough to irk me. However, the idea of having this element really helps differentiate the story world from reality, which is needed.
The question is: why are arcana needed to push the story away from reality? It is because of the Ajin. I personally love the Ajin. My love for them probably stems from my love of the Laguz, otherwise known as “sub-humans”, in the Fire Emblem franchise. The trouble is that cat ears (or in this case, dog ears) and the like no longer separate reality from fantasy as it once did. Although there is nothing wrong about them, various works contain characters that have cat ears and tails which contain no significance at all to the setting. Characters simply have various physical animal characteristics in an otherwise normal reality. In this way, having part-human, part-animal beings have less of an impact on readers. But the part-animal race of this work has another purpose: to draw empathy from the readers. It is a key tactic to draw in an audience; and hey, it works.
I love strong female leads. And as of volume 8 of this story, Princess Nakaba is not the ideal female lead to my taste. Toma Rei-sensei, the mangaka of the work, tried to make Nakaba strong. I can tell so from what other characters say and think of her. But Nakaba does not come off as the female lead that both Rei-sensei and I would like. She is powerless and always requires needing to be saved by male characters. Fortunately, there is plenty of room to make Nakaba into the character she is meant to be. Currently, she is being tortured by her ability to see the future; but, should she master her powers, and act the part, I can easily see her as a strong female lead. She won’t be a Princess Nausicaä, from Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, but she may be more of a Misaki Ayuzawa from Kaichō wa Maid-sama!.
Yes, I have my share of misgivings. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the manga enough that when I finished reading all of the translated chapter, I yearned for the next one. I felt disheartened at having no further chapters to read—and that is why I recommend this series. This is a fledgling work with plenty of room to improve and I look forward to following it as it blooms.
GO Rating: 3.5/5