365 Days of Manga, Day 30: Haruka: Beyond the Stream of Time

 

Haruka1_500.jpgHARUKA: BEYOND THE STREAM OF TIME (Harukanaru Toki no Naka de, “In a Distant Time”) (?????????) • Tohko Mizuno • VIZ (2007-ongoing) • Hakusensha (LaLa/LaLa DX, 2000-ongoing) • 15+ volumes (ongoing) • Shôjo Fantasy Romance • 16+ (infrequent violence, mild sexual situations)
Adaptation of the untranslated girls’ romance simulation game series (like La Corda d’Oro, which also ran in the same magazine in Japan). Akane, a Japanese schoolgirl, suddenly finds herself transported back in time to the court of Heian-era Japan. There, she discovers that she is the “dragon priestess” who must protect the kingdom from the evil conjurations of the mysterious, blonde-haired “demon clan,” while eight heroic guardians, all of whom are good-looking guys, fall over themselves to protect her. Looking past the fact that the plot is blatant rip-off of Fushigi Yûgi, Haruka is so poorly written as to be almost incomprehensible to anyone who hasn’t played the game. The first volume barely even bothers to establish the characters’ names and personalities. Later volumes are more readable as the series delves into the backgrounds of the individual characters (boyish Shimon, devoted samurai-bodyguard Yorihisa, fiery and jealous Tenma, seductive bad guy Akram, etc.), but the story lacks direction or romance, a perhaps unavoidable consequence of telling a story based on a simulation game where the heroine is a faceless stand-in for the player. The real focus of the books is not the plot but the bonus pages, where readers send in their votes for “what you wish the characters would say” and Mizuno draws them. Mizuno’s handsome men, weird monsters and occasionally atmospheric artwork aren’t enough to justify this actionless, pointless tie-in.
* (one star)
Today’s winner is Daphne M. of Nebraska! Congratulations, Daphne! Stay tuned tomorrow for more manga giveaways!