Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Rosy's scrawled manga recommendation: Hana No Kishi by Nishikata Mai

Hana No Kishi
Nishikata Mai

Ever since the day Ran Kurono's older brother was killed while protecting Sei Ohtori, she has dedicated her skills and life to one day becoming the First Knight of the next head of the Ohtori family, even concealing the fact that she's a woman forever. For generations the Kurono family has served the Ohtori family as their First Knight, but 11 other lower knights with ill intentions of using the Ohtori family's authority vie for that title. Not only that, but Sei is being tested for being suitable for the title of head of the family. Upon entering Saint Rogress Academy, the days of both Ran and Sei's trials begin, all the while being helped by Sei's untidy and unrefined fiance, Ibara Tennou.

Alternative names

The Flower's Knight
Knight of Flower
A virág lovagja
Cavalerul florii
Chevalier de Fleur
Gėlės Riteris
فارس من الزهور
De Ridder van de Bloem
Knekten av blomster
Рыцарь цветка



Manga reader sites (free)

Manga Fox, Manga Here, Manga Reader

Rosy's scrawlings on Hana No Kishi

I thoroughly enjoyed this manga. It contains some heavy gender role themes but is written with such a light touch, focusing on letting the characters tell their perspectives rather than the narrator/writer, that the story becomes enjoyable for watching the characters mature. For a gender role story concerning a young woman though, it contains an unusually high proportion of males. Normally you'll find a tomboy amongst the ladies but here you find a lady becoming a knight amongst knights. A knight of knights, to be exact, as she is the First Knight.
The story revolves around Ran Kurono's determined measures to cast aside her feminine side, become a man in everyday life, and replace her lost brother as the First Knight of Sei Ohtori. She does this believing it all she can do to find a way to avenge her brother's death and also as she's loyal to her childhood friend. While guarding Sei, Ran put through a series of challenges from her fellow, mostly still unknown, knights who are doing so in order to usurp her position. Hidden amongst the school's students and teachers, however, are quite a  few willing to go to great lengths to see Sei and Ran hurt or dead. Through all this Ran faces a series of situations that force her to face and maybe reaffirm as a young adult the choice she made after her brother's loss. Including facing the developing feelings she has for Sei's fiance.
As a love and action story mix discussing a serious theme, Hana No Kishi stands out as concise, light hearted and comedic at times. It also has a few unexpected twists to keep you on your toes. I found the finale and conclusion moved a little too quickly, though not fast enough to be called rushed, but what was included was satisfying and neatly rounded up Ran's issues as well as everyone else's.
The art of Hana No Kishi is balanced and smooth, with a focus upon expressions. There's almost no difference between the facial features of some characters and the difference between male and female features is particularly blurred in Ran's case. This does help highlight that she could choose either path in life easily but it can be a little disconcerting when her twin-looking cousin enters the story and proclaims his love. Many of the males have hair left white too, to help distinguish each character, following a popular manga illustration style (it doesn't necessarily mean they have blond or bleached hair). The main attraction of the illustrations is the variety of expressions, from warm and open to closed and forbidding. They are brought about by the interplay of the characters but it is the expressions that pull the story along and leave you wanting to know and see more.

I'd recommend this manga to: women mostly, particularly those who are or have struggled with traditional gender roles. Otherwise, for those who love knights, gentiles, school dramas, somewhat unconventional romances and swordplay.

Notes on manga reader sites
The quality of manga readers can vary. The uploads are often done cheaply or as a serious hobby by a collective. Be aware that sometimes licence hasn't been given but the sites noted above, Manga Fox in particular, are extremely careful about adding and pulling mangas according to license agreements. So you shouldn't have to worry too much about the material being pirated. There are also translated works and non-translated. Amongst the translated works you will find that the quality of translation may vary according to the skills of the translators. Usually the works are perfectly readable anyway, with only a few added or dropped words or a word in the incorrect tense or with/out plurals. But sometimes the text becomes gobbledygook. In which case, either seek another version or give up and buy an official copy once a printed translation comes out. The other issue of note is you may need to expand the screen to read the text easily as sometimes the scans are minimised a little.
I find that if a page doesn't download properly or some other issue occurs (too slow or someone ordered the pages incorrectly etc.) with one reader then skipping across to another reader and picking up where I was is quite easy and rarely annoying.
Otherwise, enjoy and watch out you don't get too addicted you forget about the necessary things in life.

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