The luck of a rabbit’s tail.
Set in a historically fictional Japan, this prequel to the popular romantic drama “Tail of the Moon” involves the cousin of the male protagonist of the flagship series. Both refer to themselves as Hanzou Hattori, which often causes confusion, but regional distinction is made between the two to alleviate this. Our male lead for this prequel volume is Kami no Hanzou, a guard to the feudal lord Nobuyasu who frequents the red light district in his pastime. Here, he meets a new face, Kaguya. She was taken in six months earlier with a grievous wound to her back that left a nasty scar and has worked doing chores and taking care of the children around the brothel who took her in. Ironically, it’s her scar that saved her from the sort of life most women in the brothel lead, but as she has amnesia it’s a mystery as to just how she acquired such a wound. Now, that the seemingly lecherous Hanzou has taken interest in her, what can she do but abide by his wish simply to talk? But it’s what is discovered through that conversation that Kaguya may not be able to face…
Where are the typical shoujo sparkles?
Leaving no pretenses, the cover of this prequel features a sweet image of Kaguya being protectively held by (the other) Hanzou. On the back of the book is a nice portrait of Kaguya with the book synopsis. The art style is exactly what you’d expect of a popular shoujo manga, and there are beautiful people all over the place. Seriously, Japan is apparently overrun with beauty in the gene pools and it seriously makes me question why some of that doesn’t filter into real-life; but that’s me digressing. As with other titles in the same genre, Tail of the Moon gives little attention to backgrounds. Instead, the art lends itself more to emphasize characters and expressions to enhance the mood and emotions of a scene. Fortunately, it lacks a lot of the half-tone sparkles and flowers and fluff that prevail in other shoujo titles to make up the lack. The only small bit of extra content the book has is a short glossary of terms and people of the era.
The beginning of an era.
This prequel of Tail of the Moon is an enjoyable side-story to the main series. It’s not often you find a well-written shoujo manga based (albeit loosely) on historical periods, let alone be about ninjas! Really, the only precedent of such a subgenre that comes to mind would be Kamikaze Kaito Jeanne. Not only that, but the artwork stays at the same stylistic standard throughout the book. (Shoujo artists are notorious for taking shortcuts in their art to meet a deadline.) It really is a sweet love story that easily stands apart from the main series as a singular volume. It may or may not be important in terms of the mainstay of the series, but it certainly makes for good light reading under any circumstance.