Glad Tidings from the Tendo Family – AnimeNation Anime News Blog

Historical shoujo romance drama is a relatively common subgenre of manga, and one that is more often than not executed well. Veteran shoujo manga creator Ken Saito’s Stories of the Tendo family (Tendou-ke Monogatari) premiered in 2014 and told its story in 14 parts. While the first book’s artwork doesn’t set a new standard for shoujo art, the strong characterizations and brisk pacing make the story immediately engaging and highly enjoyable, for select readers. One Book of Peace will begin releasing the official English translation of the manga on April 9.

Stories of the Tendo family revolves around a nameless orphan girl with nothing to live for. But instead of wastefully ending her own life, she looks for an opportunity to give up her life for the sake of someone else. The girl believes she has found an excellent opportunity to honorably sacrifice herself by taking the place of a sad bride-to-be who is about to marry into a cruel, ruthless family. But the nameless sacrifice, who takes the name ‘Hojo Ran’, discovers that her experiences and earthly personality make her an ideal survivor in the harsh Tendo family.

Ken Saito’s graphic art is typical of the modern shoujo aesthetic. The artwork isn’t as literally rose-filled as some shoujo titles, nor is it always as detailed or expressive as comparable manga art from Miho Obana or Natsuki Takaya. But the illustration is clear and always easy to understand and follow. Distinguishing characters is easy because of their different appearance. Background art is usually minimal except when necessary. While the foreground designs are a bit minimal and simplistic, the extensive use of screentone gives the art a rich textural depth. Moreover, the original magazine serialization is in Hakusensha’s La La DX periodically included sidebar ads. In the collected parts, those advertisements have been replaced with cute ‘bonus’ illustrations.

Typical for a first part, Stories of the Tendo family part 1 focuses on introducing the cast, setting and screenplay. Readers learn a lot about heroine ‘Hojo Ran’. Supporting characters Masato Tendo and Tachibana don’t get rich characterization, but they are still both given more rounded personalities than you would normally expect from a first manga volume. Even the initially minor supporting characters are introduced with a little more complexity than simplistic one-dimensional antagonists. Set at the very end of the Meiji era, the story will likely be familiar to seasoned manga readers. The story scenario is also known from titles ranging from My happy marriage Unpleasant Sacrificial Princess and the King of the Beasts; however, the intensity of the oppressive, threatening scenario is probably more prominent in this manga than readers may be used to. In similar shoujo manga, the outsider protagonist is usually subjected to intimidation and mild bullying. The first part of the Have family manga occasionally escalates into bloody domestic violence.

Moreover, the main character is not only figuratively hopeless. Her suicidal tendencies are not strenuous, but they are genuine and can be especially disturbing to delicate or sensitive readers. The figurative and literal darkness of the story is effectively offset by Hojo Ran’s pragmatic attitude and periodic flashes of cynical and even sinister slapstick comedy. The first manga contains mild nudity in the form of one shot of Ran’s naked butt. The book contains no adult language or sex.

The official English translation from One Peace Books by Matt Schley is fluent and natural. All characters speak with a slight formality typical of the period, but quite uniquely this manga gives a slightly different dialogue font to members of the elite Tendo family compared to the more practical and clearly spoken commoners. The difference in font helps subtly emphasize the difference in class status between characters, regardless of the close relationship between them. Occasionally, translated dialogue slips beyond the confines of illustrated word balloons. The bits are temporarily distracting, but do not affect translation or readability. Sound effects are translated in the panel. One translator’s note is included as a footnote. The book contains the first four chapters of the story plus a seven-page ‘chapter 2.5’.

Ultimately the first part of the manga by creator Ken Saito Stories of the Tendo family can be described as a version of Mark Twain’s Prince and the beggar of Watashi no Shiawase na Kekkon or Taishou Otome Otogibanashi. Despite showing somewhat weak artwork, the first book does an excellent job of introducing the characters and story. And the first book ends as a complete, satisfying introduction that lays the foundation for a serious continuation of the story. The story deals with and depicts some disturbing themes, including suicide and domestic violence. These themes may offend or upset some readers. However, the idea is that the manga never dwells on the dark themes, but instead focuses on a hopeful and slightly romantic attitude. In this way, Stories of the Tendo family will appeal to fans of just as much Fruit basket as fans of My happy wedding.

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