Posted October 4, 2012 by Elaine Cepeda in Anime/Manga

MANGA REVIEW: Hyakunen Renbo

Title: Hyakunen Renbo
Mangaka: Mashiba Nao
Genre/s: Shoujo, Romance, Fantasy
Publisher: Hakusensha
Volume/s: 2
From MU

Eva, a long-lived witch, takes in Fernest kingdom’s youngest prince, Louis, when she is asked to heal the eldest prince of an illness. Although witches are traditionally despised, Louis forms a close bond with her. When Louis is called back to the palace by a strange twist of fate to take his father’s place on the throne, Eva must decide whether to let him go or follow.

Princes, witches, light-haired main guy, cheeky hero, among others are enough to make me read a book. Not to mention, have a high expectation in the story. Those are my weaknesses that can either make me head over heels or completely indifferent in a series. In this case, it is the latter.

In royal families, it isn’t unusual to have the first prince as the immediate successor of the throne. However in this story, the eldest prince is sick so the king and the queen have to resort in using the knowledge of the witch to cure the illness. The fifth prince named Louis becomes the ‘payment’ for the witch’s help.

Witches in this kingdom are unwelcome. Their race are detested by the people and whoever has a ‘black’ hair is being shunned away immediately. Sadly, the manga-ka used the hair color as the way to label a character. Differentiated by hair color is a rather common fashion which becomes redundant as the story progresses.

This witch, called Eva, is Louis’ guardian after his parents leaves him in her care. By the time Louis becomes an adult, he starts hitting on Eva much to her annoyance (really?). He is a laid-back guy, always wearing his carefree smile and is loved by his people. Despite that attitude, he turns into a cheeky brat when it comes to Eva and sometimes a wolf in a sheep’s clothes as the witch put it. Upon sudden turn of events he is appointed as the new king of their kingdom even if he is the youngest prince. This is quite a confusing part for me. Louis is chosen as the king because the people choose him for being so welcoming to them compared to the first prince. Isn’t it that in royalties, the masses don’t have an opinion on that matter since this is the lineage we are talking about? Okay so let’s say this is a peculiar kingdom that even if they don’t have votes or whatever, they just know that who people want as their king is Louis. But if it isn’t the first prince, wouldn’t the next choice will be the second prince even if he have an assigned role already? I just find it weird that the manga-ka ignores the other princes and jumps into the fifth prince already.

On the other side, Eva is, how do you put it, inconsistent? After living for over a hundred years, I expected her to be graceful, aloof, and lady-like. Sure she is aloof but not really. I mean, it isn’t really showed in the story this part of her. It is more of glimpses which is not enough to establish her character. Most of the time, she acts like a loud teenage girl. Your heroine who does not think first before acting. I bet you have probably guessed what happened next. The prince (king) rescues him in the nick of time yes?

The theme of the story is simple: political issues and you-and-me-against-the-world love story. But don’t expect any complicated dramas or villains. The turn of events are predictable so you’ll get the feeling of ‘uhm okay…is that it?’ thing.

The characters have nothing special too in terms of art. The first time I see the cover, I thought I’ll like it only to prove me wrong afterwards. Other than the detailed irises each character has, there is nothing notable about them or their wardrobe. Even if I liked their eyes, it’s tad big to the point that it occupies almost half of the faces. There are also times when the characters are shocked or amused; their eyes look like vacant shells as if they are possessed or something.

I am not asking for mind-blowing love stories (well, since it’s rare for shoujo anyway) but at least there is a single character whom I can root for. The story is a little too fast-paced that it doesn’t have time to build a strong connection of characters to its readers. Another thing is that the leads have little or no chemistry at all. I’m a sucker for opposites attract like this one. To my disappointment, the manga-ka doesn’t pull the love story that well. Both the story and its characters are something that you’d expect. This is a light-read which you may let it pass as it isn’t worth of your time.

Elaine Cepeda