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From Go! Comi:
From birth, Cesare Borgia is surrounded by shadows. Damned by his own father, hated by his closest brother, separated from the sister who loves him, and driven by the demons of Hell itself, his quest for power threatens to set the world of Renaissance Italy ablaze -- unless one innocent person can drive away the poisonous shadows ravaging him!
Enter the world of the Borgias. A world of unspeakable conspiracies and forbidden desires. A family whose murderous intrigues would make them infamous throughout history. A history written in blood…and a poison called Cantarella.
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I can sum up Cantarella in five words: angst, angst, and more angst.
As a historical manga, Cantarella delivers, but it delivers in such a half-hearted way that I can't bring myself to recommend it. The facts are all correct, certainly, aside from the obvious references to the supernatural, but that's all they are: facts. They don't come to life, there is no vision, and often it felt like Higuri Yuu was simply ticking items off a list and regurgitating information she read in history books. Basically, it fell flat.
As a BL manga, Cantarella does not deliver. At all. The BL, as the one-sided, filled-with-betrayal kind is full of needless angst, and I've found myself wishing more than once for everyone to just die already and end my suffering mercifully. Unfortunately, this did not happen, and I had to contend with ten volumes of this ridiculous soap opera, all the while trying to brutally dismember everyone with my mind. (It did not work.)
As an interesting and unique story in and of itself... well, your mileage may certainly vary. For me, it was definitely a complete miss. The story is basically a rehashed version of Cesare Borgia's life, with supernatural elements to make it more interesting and exciting. Of course, this is not necessarily a bad thing--any premise, with the proper execution, could turn out to be spectacular.
Unfortunately, Cantarella did not have the proper execution, nor did it, in fact, have a single likable character. (OK, maybe I'm being too harsh. I did like Volpe a lot. He seemed the only sensible person in the whole thing, actually.) But, what Cantarella really fails at is character development. No one in the whole entire series ever changes. They never develop as a character. They never gain their own personality. They're basically all caricatures, cardboard cutouts with human faces.
Spoiler (mouse over to view)
The worst of these is probably Lucrezia, who, in the beginnings of the manga, is defined entirely by her forbidden love for her brother Cesare. After that love is over and done with, she is then completely defined by her love for Chiaro. She never gains any personality of her own. She never develops as a legitimate character. Even after ten volumes, she still remains a complete and utter plot device, meant to separate Chiaro from Cesare to create maximum angst.
Chiaro is also equally bad, as from the onset of the manga, he is described as this great "angelic" figure, and this image stays with him for the rest of the manga. (Even Lucrezia thinks he's an angel!) He's never really given much depth beyond how good and kind he is, or how necessary he is to Cesare's survival. I don't even understand how Cesare could possibly like him--he isn't a person, he's one of those storybook princes who speaks all of two lines and then gets the princess!
Personally, I think the two deserve each other. They probably get along so well because they both have absolutely no personality.
Some of the characters' motivations are a bit dubious to me as well, requiring a certain amount of suspension of belief. Even those motivations that are explained are not developed in depth, simply touched upon in passing.
Spoiler (mouse over to view)
The worst of these motivations is the main character Cesare's. Throughout the manga, he has mentioned that he wishes to rule Italy before his body is taken over by demons, but it is never explained precisely why.
Now, historically, Cesare Borgia was an ambitious person, but Higuri Yuu instead creates an image of innocence for Cesare (in order to make him a sympathetic character, no doubt), one who would have been kind and generous if he had not had his soul sold to the demons.
So then why does Cesare want to conquer Italy? It can't be the demons--because Cesare specifically explained that he wanted to rule Italy before the demons can rule him. It can't be for his father--Rodrigo hates and fears Cesare, and Cesare has clearly no great love for his father in turn. In fact, Cesare seems to be mainly operating outside of his father's influence, without the other's consent. So then why is he so determined for conquest? I doubt it'll ever be explained--it's not as important a plot point as, say, the angst, after all.
So, who would I recommend this manga too? Casual manga readers who have a penchant for supernatural, (w)angst, and tragic romance (which is really not all that tragic, but you know). I have to admit, though, that Cantarella is a page-turner, if only that it is an absolute trainwreck (and you know how we all delight in watching those). Otherwise, there's really nothing else I can recommend about it. There are definitely good historical, BL, romantic tragedies out there. Cantarella is not one of those.
... Last updated on October 13th, 2012, 4:32pm
just my opinion
in the beginning really kept me reading but uh..as the story goes on it just gets worst...almost everything didnt go the way i wanted. x.x My opinion on the characters really changed as i went along, except cesar. Cesar was the only character i really supported from beginning to end xD. Lucretia, i like her at the start....then i just hated her more and more. Chiaro, i have mixed feelings about him, i just cant hate him completly.
Spoiler (highlight to view)
Lucretia and Chiaro, i HATE them for betraying cesar. alrite so at the very very beginning with cesare protecting lucretia and all, i thought, i wouldnt mind if cesare and lucretia end up together even if they're brother/sisters. then chiaro comes along and i thought chiaro would probably be with lucretia seeing that hes the only one who can save cesare and i dont mind, actually i support them. and then....wtf?!? chiaro and lucretia? what?? well..even thought there were hints. the story...well the author just couldnt get me to like this pairing. how can lucretia change her heart so easily? and chiaro, gosh i hate him for not considering how much cesare would suffer. D=< But i still continued reading hoping chiaro would go back to cesar which never happens. o and lucretia gets so close to being raped SO MANY times but gets rescued each time. i was kinda hoping shed get raped already or just die. anywayyy Lucretia pretty much messed up the entire story for me. alrite so the other pair, alphonso and sanchia i supported. i really liked the omake in vol 9. their story was great<3 Alphonso is one of the few characters i liked. Sanchia, i dont really understand..why does she have to be such a wh0re, cant she just stay with alphonso. and alphonso's death really pissed me off.(well, the genre is tragedy) then chiaro dies, at that point i didnt really care for him, i thought 'you can atleast sacrifice yourself for him" The ending was alrite, lucretia/chiaro's child is adorable x3.
and at one point i was like "GO CESARE 8D JUST KILL EVERYBODY MUHAHAHA" lol...
anyway. the art is really nice . the story has many twists, some parts are predictable and some are unexpected. The genre states shoujo and shounen ai, most of the pairings are shoujo and theres very little shounen ai elements. o and tragedy! definetly a tragedy.
I adore this manga im not a fan of yaoi but cantarella doesn't really have much of that. no offense but around 7th or 8th volume her art starts to change alittle it's still nice but not what i'm used to. i ador this manga its great ^-^ it gets alittle confusing keeping up with the history
Dropped at volume 9
Lucretia ruined the whole story for me. I was totally on board with the whole evil, let's take over Italy business. Cesare was just such a fascinating character, not to mention a total boss when it came down to it. I could accept the darkness and bloodshed that came with his ambitions because he was such a great anti-hero. The relationship between Cesare and Chiaro was fun to watch at the beginning but everything goes downhill when the story became some melodramatic soap opera. This didn't need to be BL, but for the love of all that is holy, I don't understand why the mangaka suddenly seized upon the shoujo aspect of it as if that was the only part that mattered. So much attention is given to the betrayal-romance that it detracted from the conquering and true darkness of the story. At times I just wanted all the characters to die except for Cesare. Characters are supposed to change and develop as the story progresses, but for the life of me, I just can't figure out what logic and what motivation drove Lucretia and Chiaro to change as suddenly as they did. It was a complete 180 of both characters with such shallow motivation for change. Sure there were hints earlier on, but the mangaka in no way built up a strong enough foundation in either character's backstory and personalities to justify such a development. It's truly such a shame to see so much potential go to waste. If the mangaka had forestalled the bizarre shoujo aspect for even a little longer and built up the storytelling aspect more through character development and setting up a better foundation for the ensuing plot twists it could have been a much stronger story. Because of this, it kind of betrays the contract between storyteller and audience much the same way Chiaro betrays Cesare. That plot device was honestly one of the most bizarre and atrocious things I've ever seen in a story that started out so well-laid out. I think the way that this particular plot twist is set up will alienate most of her readers because you will feel cheated rather than just tricked. It goes against everything writers are taught or instinctively know. I'm so bitterly disappointed. There's nothing worse than a fantastic story ruined by poor writing choices >.<
absolutely love this one......
This is one of the few manga I would give a 10 to. I absolutely love this mangaka. She puts so much research into her work, and it shows. Her art is so beautiful. This story is very complex, and filled with plot and character twists. Some people don't like complex stories in manga, but I sure do. There is lots of character development, and you get to know the characters enough to care what happens to them. The reader finds that they are see-sawing back and forth as to which characters they like best and who they want to see come out on top in the end. Too bad the English publisher dropped the ball on this one and didn't finish it. Thankfully, I read Japanese, so I bought the last 2 volumes in Japanese. I highly recommend this one.
Ambitious but Boring
At first this manga looked like a hidden gem - epic plot and great art - but the story failed to deliver. The manga comes off a little pretentious and ambitious, but it is not satisfying and I slowly lost interest. Disappointing.
Nice eye treats
For me, I usually only comment on mangas that have REALLY affected me...like the ones where I'll stay all night (or morning) to read and then maybe when I finally finish reading, I'll sleep and start thinking about it right when I wake up the next morning...in this case, it was all of Saturday and then all the way until Sunday 4:00ish am...but then maybe it's just all the long mangas that I read that I like to comment on...
Anyways, I overall LOVED the art...the artist definitely knows how to serve her fans with naked bodies and sexual contacts here and there...the ending, for me anyways, was definitely not what I thought out to be...I won't way if the person below me was right or wrong...but I thought it was unexpected. I would have pretty much given this manga a 10/10 (as I usually do on all the mangas that I comment on) if not for the ending...it wasn't exactly...satisfying...let's just put it at that. It's true that this series is only scanlated to the 10th volume, however, if you're really persistent, you can find the last two volumes raw, and trust me, those are definitely worthwhile...I was going to be one of those lazy ones who just reads the spoiler and finds out what happens, but personally, even though I don't understand the raws, I thought it was worthwhile to still look at the pictures and guess what's happening. Again, VERY unexpected ending, so don't go thinking it's gonna end like your average shojo manga endings...I have to say, I've NEVER had such a reversal in favorite characters...before my favorite character was uh...Cesare...and then later they're Alfonso and Chiaro - the noble knight ^^ and as for Cesare, well, I could ALMOST hate him but his beauty saves him from it... XD
Now then, for those who don't feel the need to find the ending and read the raws, or just couldn't find the chance to, here's what happens:
Spoiler (highlight to view)
So then basically, in the last two volumes, this is what happens...uh...well we already know that Chiaro later gets his right arm amputated...poor boy getting tortured by his master like that...so he basically loses his dominant hand in sword fighting...the good thing is he's still kickass better than everyone else in swordfighting. So then, apparently the only other way to save Cesare is basically for Chiaro to sacrifice himself...pretty annoying, there's like NO easy way out of this so Chiaro, being the noble loyal servant, decides to sacrifice himself (from what I saw) and he is basically able to purify Cesare with his death. Alfonso dies...sadly and what's really frickin' annoying is that he fake dies 2 times so both times I'm like NOOOO! ALFONSO!!!! and then after he opens his eyes it's like "phew" but then the third time he dies, it's pretty obvious he won't be surviving it and that totally pissed me off that the artist played with my heartstrings > :( Actually the character who I hate the most is Volpe or however you spell his name...he's so frickin' annoying, so 3 years passes by basically, from what I saw, Cesare, Volupe, Lucretia, and Sancia lives...and probably a few other, in my opinion, insignificant characters, I think alexander vi finally dies (FINALLY...after being like a puppet through the rest of the half series) and well Cesare is purified and good but I think he's still got nightmares cause he wakes up in sweats and Volpe is still his loyal servant and then the child of Chiaro and Lucretia it seems ends up living with Cesare, not sure if he calls him father or not. And he's ABSOLUTELY adorable, just like Chiaro actually. TOTALLY loving...he comes into the room and struggles onto Cesare's bed and then tries to touch his forehead to see if anything's wrong with him. And then apparently he came because he had a notice in his hand, and I'm guessing that the notice tells the death of alex vi...the end...pretty abrupt...but meh...I don't like overly long mangas, so I'm glad it ended soon...but still ALFONSO AND CHIARO!!!! WISH THEY DIDN'T DIE!!! I also hate Cesare for having him tortured so much that he ends up losing one arm...screw cesare...yes...I ended up being a Cesare hater -___-
Okay then, so sorry for the overly long comments, and hope it helped PLEASE READ!!!! I really recommend this manga
This manga is just awesome! I found it to be a real page turner. XD can't wait to read more!
Catches your attention but lacks a good latter half
This manga will keep you reading chapter after chapter, but the plot becomes pretty irritating. The most annoying thing is
Spoiler (mouse over to view)
the sudden switch with Lucretia and Chiaro. I thought she was heads over heels for her brother? Her character was very obviously created to generate angst, but this was switched out midway as she turned into an annoyance instead. Chiaro just gnawed at me past volume 7 or so. My master is falling into the clutches of the dark abyss... so let me just forget about him and do completely irrelevant things ... That was incredibly irritating.
What are you doing here? Read the story for yourself!
The story is just too beautiful. As you read along it becomes more intense and romantic, although the outcome is questionable. This is a tragedy, based on a historical event, but the author may decide to give it a happy ending, if we are lucky. You really should read it for yourself and pray that the remaining two volumes are released soon. The tension which builds up to the tenth chapter is unbearable.