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From Transcendence: Long ago, there existed a land divided into four countries: Sou, Kou, Do, and Ah. The King of Ah took on a wife from Kou and soon thereafter one from Do, creating a shaky alliance between the three nations. When the Second Queen gave birth to a son, the King cast aside the sickly First Queen and her daughter Aki into the depths of the Palace. But as Fate would have it, Princess Aki encounters a slave named Hakusei, who has peculiar golden hair and sky blue eyes. He promises his life to her and helps her train in the Six Arts under the guidance of the enigmatic merchant Seitetsu. However, when Aki outshines the Prince during a hunt in an attempt to gain her father's acknowledgement, she sparks a war by besmirching Do's honor and drives the Second Queen to poison her mother. With nothing left but her faithful Hakusei, Aki is banished to the small country of Kou with a vow to return to Ah one day for revenge. But in the face of the mighty allied nations of Do and Ah, will the two survive long enough to carry out Aki´s vow?
Note: Won the 60th Shogakukan Manga Awards for Best Shoujo in 2015.
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Looking (mostly) good so far!
It's a good manga and worth your time if you like political intrigue. I especially like how we see Aki experience and overcome difficulties despite being talented at what she does. Her ability doesn't come out of nowhere either, and it's established that she's worked hard to get to where she is. It drives me up the wall when characters are talented to the point where they're basically perfect and never make mistakes, and this manga doesn't fall into that trap.
There's just one thing that really bothers me.
Spoiler (mouse over to view)
The scene where Hakusei attempts to rape Aki is completely unnecessary. It felt like a cheap excuse to make things awkward between the two of them, and it could have been easily toned down to Hakusei trying to kiss Aki without needing to change much. It seemed so out of character for Hakusei too. He's devoted to her to the point where he's willing to die for her and fusses over her, but then he tries to force himself on her while she's saying no? What?
And no, she was not "leading him on." Just throwing that out there.
This is not my type of manga anymore
This is not a good romance in my opinion anymore. I liked it in the beginning, The idea behind this story is one that has been done by many other manga and novels. However, it sets itself apart early on and became a really cute and heartfelt story... until we find out in fact the princess was just leading the blonde guy on (eventually they will probably somehow be together in some way...) but after she showed such an adverse reaction to him, yet seems to have fallen for the man who loved her mother, it became irritating. Extremely irritating. I dislike love triangles so it became one that I couldn't like. It is written well and the plot is deep and intricate. I don't think others will dislike it if you are into that sort of thing. The art is also good.
... Last updated on January 22nd, 2016, 3:07am
I must say, looking at the older works of this mangaka, she's definitely grown a lot. I remember picking up the one about two brothers love triangle with their younger sister...it was so bad to the point it was maddening. Her female characters have gone a long way since then. This heroine is so much stronger and intelligent. The portrayal of male characters have gotten so much better and looking at one of the comments below, I can definitely tell you, the cheesiness was 100x worse in her older works.
So I would say. Go for this one, but if you're expecting the same level of character portrayals and plotline developments in her older works...don't touch them, not even with a ten foot pole.
solid story, beautiful historical setting and art
a strong, intelligent girl, who has collected allies through charisma and wit. it's a very impressive story so far. it's decent art too. it breaks a lot of trapping for a strong female lead manga tropes. there is no lazy coincidence to push plot point, nor a single pointless character. everyone, including villains, has their motivation beyond just stupid simple selfish or evil.
Quite possibly the first "great" shoujo drama.
I read a lot of manga of all types. And, for the most part, shoujo manga tends to be the most annoying. Sure, there are a handful of incredible slice-of-life series (Lovely Complex and Kimi ni Todoke leap to mind), but for the most part the more dramatic series invariably fall short. They focus too much on self-absorbed relationship drama, rely too heavily on tired tropes/cliches, or keep the cast perpetually infantilized to avoid changing the status quo in any meaningful way until the last chapter or two.
It makes the dramatic series all the more infuriating to read because they will often take a very compelling premise, and then completely fail to do anything interesting with it (the recent Akatsuki no Yona leaps to mind).
Joou no Hana is none of these things. A small, focused cast allows for excellent characterization, and deft plot handling (making frequent and excellent use of time-skips and narration) allow for character development--and, crucially, plot development. And that's what makes Joou no Hana such a joy to read--it's a fast-paced character-centric historical-fantasy epic, that spends just enough time on the character drama and interaction to make the cast feel alive and compelling, without sacrificing ANYTHING to the plot.
And boy, oh boy, oh boy is this one hell of a plot.
In the first chapter our heroine, Aki, is a young girl stealing food for her mother; two chapters later she's thrusting a sword through an enemy soldier's throat.
If you like historical fantasy at all, please read this series. If you're not in love with it after the first three chapters, you really don't like historical fantasy and are just deluding yourself. I really thought the big stand-out story for me this year would be the new adaptation of Tanaka Yoshiki's "Heroic Legend of Arslan." But it's not. It's Kaneyoshi Izumi's "Joou no Hana," a rather unfortunately named series I found entirely by accident--and I am so glad I did.
Can't seem to get enough of it
I'm really liking this manga. I especially like the character development of the main character. The author was really good in transitioning a naive royal to a slightly cynical, realist one. I like her and the flow of the manga is just proceeding smoothly
The character development and plot line of this manga seems to rival those of Basara, Red River and other epic Shoujo's. Add to that, the beautiful art work. This is definitely one of my new favorites. I'm really looking forward to reading more of it. Do NOT give this one a miss!
As jackalan touches on (albeit a tad rudely and one-sidedly) in the comment bellow, a lot of the elements of this story are "unoriginal." Unwanted princess, foreign servant, close relationship, trying to prove oneself to the country that rejected them-- it's all very typical because its very often a theme. But in the same way that Disney always has their princesses and there are always car chases and explosions in action movies, this manga retells these familiar elements RIGHT.
Although we know many elements of this plot, we love seeing it play out right the same way we can rewatch our favorite film or shakespearean play even knowing the content. It's almost comforting because we feel we know these characters already when we get dropped into the story. I would even argue that although a lot of the story elements and plot devises aren't surprises, there is still an element of mystery or wonder to the future in what way the story will go. I definitely recommend it.
The art is good, the plot is good even with all it's typical-ness and the characters, if not fully developed yet, do make you like them and wish for their well-being. it's not to far along yet, read a few chapters and see for yourself.
... Last updated on April 1st, 2013, 7:09pm
This manga is TOPNOTCH... CHEESY
Oh My God! It was seriously seriously cheesy. It was hilariously cheesy. It was...
Sorry if I offend any attentive reader of the manga but it was just cheesy. I mean seriously there is still manga this cheesy. And the rating is quite high. That makes me understand even less.
Okay, push besides the cheesy plot and characters. The drawing makes such dramatic effects that it amplifies the CHEESINESS of the manga even more.
This has been a dead serious comment. Really
I've always had a soft spot for political intrigue in a historical context. Add a courageous female lead, some subtle but nonetheless cavity-inducing romance, well-crafted suspense and voila! A great read. I've only read a few chapters so far, but I'm hooked.