There is a kingdom where peace is maintained by two forces: the male king and his male heirs and the female songstresses and their female descendants. The king runs the kingdom and the songstresses nightly sing their song of protection. But the balance has been thrown off in one small region of the kingdom. Against all odds the next songstress born…is male.
Aki’s one-volume manga is moody and pretty at the same time. It’s not a story that is going to end with all of the characters living happily ever after, but that’s okay and readers will like it for its pathos. The main character, Kain, is a gloomy young man, quick to anger, whose outlook on life was shaped by a childhood of being the only one who was there to protect his mother and twin sister. The little family was trapped in their songstress tower together, bound by the royal degree that wouldn’t let songstresses abandon their posts. So he’s never known a world where he can trust others and even those who seem to be trustworthy, such as his village’s young chief, Thomas, are looked upon as dangerous by Kain. Thomas, for his part, loves Kain’s family and wants to do right by them, but is bound by his duty to his village. Unlike Kain, Thomas, and Kain’s sister Maria, the rest of the characters aren’t as well thought out. There are a number of convenient characters, whose existence is there more to move the story towards its slightly more hopeful if still melancholy end, rather than because they are flesh-and-blood people.
Aki’s art is very pretty, even if it doesn’t move much away from the typical shojo style….
Utahime: The Songstress
Digital Manga, March 2009