This is the story that started it all.
Writer/Artist: Rinko Ueda
Translation: Tetsuichiro Miyaki
Adaptation: Tetsuichiro Miyaki
What They Say
Set in feudal Japan, a young woman is found with a huge scar on her back and no memory of who she is. She's given the name "Kaguya" and taken in by a local brothel where she's put in charge of babysitting and housekeeping duties. Hanzou, the head guard of the nearby castle, starts to pursue her and realizes later that they've actually met before...and are enemies! (It turns out this young woman is one of Oda Nobunaga's daughters--Princess Sara.)In the second story, Oda Nobunaga sends Sara to infiltrate the ninja town of Iga to steal a secret gunpowder formula. She is to go under the guise of being the prospective bride of Hanzo Hattori, one of the high-ranking ninja leaders of Iga. Sara willingly goes along with the plan because she doesn't realize that she's got her Hanzo(u)s mixed up!
Contents (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Rinko Ueda demonstrates her distinctive and accomplished art, as well as her knowledge of the Warring States Period, in this romance of princess and ninja assassin, Sara, and the captain of the guard of Tokugawa Castle, Hanzou Hattori, a sworn enemy. In the first of two stories, what begins rather clumsily with a much too convenient amnesia, quickly moves on to return Sara to the purposeful and dedicated ninja in spite of her new found feelings for this beautiful man, so popular with the ladies. Hanzou, for his part, cannot quit his attraction to Sara, who is so familiar, yet so different. Ueda's smart sense of action and pacing make an effortless and entertaining read and she deftly resolves the characters' conflicting interests in a way that satisfies history, romance, and the readers .
While readers of Tail of the Moon may not be familiar with Sara's second assignment, they are aware of its outcome and the uncertainties that it placed on poor Usagi in that series. In this assignment, Sara, masquerading as the niece of Tokugawa Ieyasu, is sent as the bride to be of Hanzo Hattori of the Iga clan. This ruse is intended to cover the real assignment - stealing a gunpowder recipe from the Iga as well as determining the ability of Iga to withstand an attack by Oda's armies. Of course, there are two Hanzo(u) Hattoris, and Sara attempts to keep the commitments of her assignment and those to Hanzou while avoiding the amorous attentions of (the other) Hanzo. (Yes, readers, I was also surprised.) Much as she did in the first story. Ueda keeps the pace brisk and the action lively with a resolution that is deserving of Sara's effort and sacrifices.
Fans of Tail of the Moon will find a lot to like in this volume, though readers new to the series will not be disappointed; this is a adventure complete in itself. In addition to the background of Sara and Hanzou, there is a chance to see a Hanzo (the other one) that is a lot more lively below the waist than the one we see in Tail. Rinko Ueda stated in the first volume of Tail of the Moon, that she wrote it because she felt that she had treated Hanzo so poorly in this story. One wonders how sincere she was in this when she pairs him up with the clumsy and lazy Usagi. Some payback.