A few moments of quite are stolen between Yuri and Kail before the war overtakes their lives.
Writer/Artist: Chie Shinohara
Translation: Yuko Sawada
Adaptation: Yuko Sawada
What They Say:
Yuri returns to Ugarit along with the news that Nefertiti, the queen dowager of Egypt, has fallen from power. Kail is relieved that the dire threat posed by the covert communications between Nefertiti and Nakia is now over, but feels certain this development will only fuel the war between the Hittite Empire and Egypt. What neither he nor anyone else on either side of the conflict realizes is how hot things are actually going to get!
What We Say:
When Red River first came out, I struggled through the first volume as it felt like just another in a series of titles that was like Fushigi Yugi and I in no way wanted to experience another Miaka event. The idea of a fifteen year old girl going back in time isn't a bad one, and Red River at least changes things up a little bit by sending her to the Hittite Empire, which takes us back quite a ways and to a land not often covered never mind a time not often covered. Yuri makes the choice to stay there and work with Kail, now the king of the empire, in order to push forward the idea of a peaceful empire backed by force when necessary.
This volume plays through a few different areas that are all intriguing, though people reading it from the start of the series will likely get more out of it. The opening storyline alone made me a lot more interested in the book as Yuri's return to where Kail is has her quickly falling into bed with him as the two share what little time they often have together. It's not exactly explicit, but there's more nudity than I expected and certainly a stronger relationship presented here than expected as well with how most books revolve around a fifteen year old protagonist. The two have very engaging discussions about their relationship and where it will stand in the midst of the war that's going on as so much of what they want depends on how the war goes.
The other two storylines that play through this volume are rather engaging, though confusing at times again because of dropping into this in the middle. The first is a mysterious letter of Queen Nakia which is being sought after by different parties. Yuri's acquisition of the letter recently has opened a whole can of worms with it and there are those that want it back and have no problem using unsuspecting people to regain it. There is a good deal of name dropping and intrigue in the palace so to speak going on here, which is fascinating to try and figure out at this point as it comes across as complicated yet painting a very large picture of what's going on with the different groups.
Taking up almost half of the book, the remaining storyline that is dealt with involves the Egyptians whose army is now arriving just at the Northern Byblos border, which means it's time for the Hittites to meet them in battle. Kail is ready for it and the field chosen is appropriately picked as it doesn't truly give anyone a serious advantage. There is a very large scale battle that takes place across this, but it's the smaller stories and battles that really fleshes it out. What made this work so very well for me is that it deals quite a lot with Yuri as she's taken on the role of Kail's Dal Meshedi, which is a very valued role in the battle. Unlike most female characters that would flounder and fail, needing to be rescued, Yuri instead thrives in the role. So much so that the Egyptians are targeting her forces in the battle in order to push Kail's buttons.
Red River, which ran from 1995 to 2002, has an almost classic shoujo look about it with its designs. The men are all lanky and hot in different ways while the women follow a similar kind of design but with a few more curves thrown in. Yuri is really appealing here as she feels like she stepped out of the manga from 1980's with her facial design and hair style, but that adds even more to her fish out of water role here as someone from the end of the 20th century living and a time some three thousand years prior, depending on when exactly this takes place. The contrast in the styles works very well for the book and Yuri comes across the best as a tough, attractive, smart and loyal woman who has made her choice and is working very hard to see it become reality.
Red River is a book that flows really well with what it does here in providing for big action sequences with armies moving across the area, dealing with political intrigue as well as making sure that there are very human and tender moments between some of the characters. With great looking character designs, a certain simplicity in its overall design and a story that's complicated but accessible, Red River has a lot to offer here and makes me regret not getting past the first volume ages ago. This may not be the best jumping on point, but it's general accessibility is a very strong mark in its favor in that even twenty-three volumes in, it can get me very interested in it.