Leaving out the obvious comparisons to other anime and manga series, Haruka still manages to fail in the most important storytelling aspects--and even somewhat pretty boys cannot overcome creepy love interests and a lack of reader connection.
Writer/Artist: Tohko Mizuno
Translation: Stanley Floyd
Adaptation: Stanley Floyd
What They Say
Akane is your typical teenage girl...until she swallows the Dragon Jewels, and is transported to the Heian period of ancient Japan! There in the capital city, Akane learns that she has been foreordained to lead the people as the Priestess of the Dragon God!
But now there are rumors in the capital of another mysterious and powerful girl who claims to be the Priestess of the Dragon God! Akane and the Eight Guardians go to investigate the impostor, but are completely unprepared for what they find...
Haruka is gradually becoming more accustomed to her guardians--if you call learning that someone can hear your thoughts is “becoming accustomed.” Of course, life cannot be all relaxation for a girl who has been transported to another world, wields mythical powers, and has a cast of guardians that consist entirely of attractive young men. Haruka’s friend from high school, Tenma, proves to be the biggest problem in this area. Having already told her that he likes her, he wants nothing more than to protect her from everything in this strange land--and, perhaps harder to accomplish, for Haruka to give him some kind of answer about her own feelings. Things take an even worse turn when another “Dragon Priestess” appears, mysteriously healing the impurities that have been sickening the commoners. When Haruka, Tenma, and the blacksmith’s apprentice Inori try to investigate, they discover that this supposed priestess is not only causing the diseases, she is Tenma’s sister, Ran, who disappeared three years ago. Akram lures Haruka into the “next world” with the promise that he will return Ran if she does so, but several guardians are also pulled through the portal and must rescue both Ran and Haruka from Akram’s clutches.
Given his role in this volume, there is something truly creepy, in my mind, about the constant presence of Akram as a potential love interest for Akane. Sure, the plot that is a blatant rip of Fushigi Yuugi continues, as does the general lack of emotion in the whole series, but it’s Akram that makes me want to put the book down. The more we learn about him, the more evil he is revealed to be--just how many girls has he abducted and turned into evil priestesses before he lucked into finding Akane? And him watching Akane sleep in a field of flowers is just… ick. This is the sort of series that continues to exist by not picking out a main love interest for the heroine, but if I had to choose the two most likely, it would be Tenma and Akram, with an edge to the latter. Of course, Tenma is the sympathetic one who has an actual back-story with Akane and has already come to grips with his feelings for her, but this feels like it might doom him as a romantic interest. If this series proves me wrong, I will be delighted, because although the main plot is still a patchwork of multiple other shojo series, there are lots of decently pretty boys and detailed period costumes that can be appeasing. But if the ick-factor with Akram continues, or he doesn’t get some sort of redemption very soon, the eight pretty boys (no, I do not include the aforementioned evil sorcerer in this count) will not be enough to save this dull series.