Ryu’s Musings – Utahime – The Songstress (One Shot)

Posted on July 26th, 2010 by Ryu Sheng |

PrintISBN-13: 978-1-56970-044-0
Language: English
Direction: Right to Left
Pages: 232
By: Aki
Publisher: DMP
Type: One-shot
Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Shounen
Synopsis:

For centuries, a far-off kingdom has been protected by the nightly singing of the Utahime. This powerful voice is passed down from one female songstress to another within the Utahime’s bloodline. Then the impossible happens…a male songstress has been born. What follows then is a bitter-sweet and tragic tale revolving around this reluctant Utahime.

General thoughts:

I’d been wanting to read this for a ages, and when I finally got to I was all hyped up. Sadly, while I enjoyed it, it was also disappointing since it didn’t really live up to my expectations.

The core story is really amazing, a country that has a male ruler and female songstress, whose song protects the country. It had always been male for the rulers and female for the songstress. Until now, suddenly things are different and we have a female ruler and male songstress.

The potential for this story is off the charts, it would have made an excellent series, sadly all we get is single volume.

I like the cover of the volume, it’s not fancy or anything, but it’s well drawn and looks nice, basically it does what it’s supposed to. Catches the readers eye, and makes them interested in looking at it further.

Art wise, I tended to flip between liking and disliking. At times the art is beautiful, well drawn, and looking perfect. Yet at other times the art has a rushed feel to it, making look, well, a bit naff. I got the impression that Aki was trying to inject humour into the story, but the art just doesn’t come across as funny.

The other area this volume fails to impress is in the way the story is told. The chapters are split into time frames, but they’re all over the place which means to really understand everything you have to read it out of order

So, after what I found bad we get to what I found good. The characters. Despite everything I disliked about this volume the characters are the one thing I loved and really got into.

Characters:

Kain is the main lead of the story. He’s a male Songstress who secretly cross dresses as his sister and sings to protect the country. I wasn’t to sure about him at first, I found him to be annoying and frankly not a very good character. However over the course of the volume as more of his history and motivations are revealed I found myself warming to him. Especially the lengths he goes to. Although sadly, even at the end, his is a rather sad character I couldn’t help but feel a lot of pity for

Thomas our love interest and some of the village chief. Initially I just wrote him off as a wishy washy dull character, doomed to spend his life being insulted by Kain. Yet as with Kain, over the course of the volume his past and personality are fleshed out. Also the bond he has with Kain is investigated and brought to life. Also like Kain I couldn’t help but feel pity for him.

Maria, the doomed songstress. Like Thomas I didn’t think much of her when we get introduced to her in the story. The reason being we’ve had no time to come to know the character and to feel anything towards them. So when it’s revealed she’s dead, I sort of just went “meh” and moved on. In the subsequent chapters which go back to the past we get to see Maria for what she is, a beautiful and vivacious young woman who loves everything and everyone. She doesn’t really understand the role she has, so is easily mislead. When I read the volume a second time I got a lump in my throat when it came to her death, which for me is how it should have been the first time.

Publisher Handling:

Firstly, I still haven’t got a paper copy of this (waiting on the Book Depository to deliver it grrr), so I read this on eManga (many thanks to DMP). The art looks crisp and sharp, with no over levelling. The font’s I had a minor problem with, because I found that on a few occasions the font was to small to really read, especially when you add in the faded grey colour which makes it almost invisible. On a paper copy this wouldn’t be an issue since you’d just move the book closer to see it better.

Over all though I liked the fonts used in this volume, which for the most part were easy on the eye, and was to follow (with the above exceptions).

Closing Thoughts:

While I most definitely enjoyed this volume, it’s not what I was expecting. If you’re looking for a solid story about the changes that happen when roles are reversed, you wont get it here. However if you can accept that conce3pt as nothing more than the back drop for the story, it can be an enjoyable read.

It would have been an even better read if the chapters had been made more time consistent, starting in the past and working up to the present. Yet at the end of the day we still have an enjoyable manga that is a good time killer.

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