Featured Columns

May 14, 2010

Bento Bako Bonus: Maiden Rose vol. 1

Title: Maiden Rose
Author: Fusanosuke Inariya
Publisher: Digital Manga Publishing, on their Juné imprint
Volume: Volume 1, $12.95
Vintage: 2005 in Japan, March 2010 by DMP
Genre: With a mature rating, this title is not for the faint of heart.  It’s a classic yaoi title, complete with rape and violent sex.  It’s also about war, so there is some action (not that kind…well, maybe on occasion) on the battle field.  There’s some political stuff going on, too.  Emphasis is on story and characters, but there’s also plenty of graphic sex.  So, you’ve been warned.

I have a lot of material piled up right now, so you get an extra review this week (and it may happen a bit more often, time permitting, of course).  Today we’re going to look at the first volume of a recently released yaoi title called Maiden Rose.

Maiden Rose is about a land torn with war.  Taki Reizen, a member of his nation’s royal family, is a Commander for the Eastern Alliance (I think; it’s not actually mentioned in this volume, but there’s also a Western Alliance, which is not them, and Eurote, the enemy).  His right hand man is Claus, his best soldier, his sworn servant and knight…and also a citizen of Eurote, the opposing alliance.  Many of the Eastern Alliance oppose Claus’s presence, worried that he is abusing Taki’s trust and working as a spy.  As hard as Claus works, and as many times as he risks his life for the war (though mostly for Taki), he is still looked on with contempt and skepticism.  Only Taki’s insistence about Claus’s loyalty keeps their criticisms under control.  Taki is a step above normal commanders.  As Lord of the land, his utmost concern is keeping his people alive, and protecting the land which they will one day return to when the war ends.

In this volume, we see Taki and Claus in action.  Taki commands from his tank, while Claus rides alongside on his motorcycle, and the two make a formidable team.  We see that even Claus, with all his arrogance, has a soft side when he protects a child in the middle of a battle.  Taki takes charge and pushes his men forward into battle, keeping their morale up while refusing to retreat.  Then Claus’s past allegiance comes back to haunt him, and he’s arrested as a traitor.  Only Taki can possibly save him, but with all the pain and humiliation he has suffered at Claus’s hands, will he come to the rescue?  There are some flashback scenes scattered throughout the book, early moments between Taki and Claus, including the day they first met, before Taki was a Commander in the army.  At the end of the book is a humorous bonus story, but uh…it’s a bit of a chibi furry thing.

The relationship between the two men is the most interesting part of the title.  Claus tends to be very violent with Taki in private, though he is perfectly submissive in his role as Taki’s soldier and servant in public.  Taki is similarly changed, asserting his command forcefully (though with the dignity of one of his station) in public, but letting Claus do at he pleases in private.  Claus is very obviously in love with Taki, though he seems fine being violent with and humiliating Taki when they’re alone, so it’s clearly a warped love (it kind of seems like he’s so violent because he’s angry that the dignified Taki is so submissive toward him).  It’s unclear until near the end of the book (and it will likely be explained more in the next volume) what Taki’s feelings might be about their relationship.  It’s very twisted, really.  As the leader of his people, Taki is supposed to be pure, chaste (there’s some symbolism about him being the Maiden Rose, the “Emperor’s Flower,” so he’s not allowed to be deflowered, basically; he’s a vessel for the divine, and it’s his purity that allows him to maintain command); every time Claus touches him, it’s like signing his own order of execution.

I’m rather fond of the art myself, but I’ve noticed some people complain about Claus’s huge chin.  It is rather largely proportioned, but it helps set up him as a macho, ultra masculine kind of guy, strong jawed, and rather Aryan-like.  Which I think is the point.  There’s a very sharp contrast between Claus’s masculinity and the more effeminate Taki.

It’s biggest fault I’d say, is that the history and politics can get a little confusing and hard to follow.  Things get explained sporadically throughout, and there’s a good bit to keep track of.  Taki and Claus’s past unfolds very slowly, and jumps around quite a bit.  As for my personal opinion…well, it’s not too bad.  It’s not great either.  It’s mostly well drawn, and the basic story is interesting, and I typically enjoy twisted relationships.  My initial impression was…ambivalence.  And I think that’s how it will remain.  If you find it interesting at all, volume 2 is slated to come out in July.  It was listed in May’s Previews.

Come back Monday for Natsuki Takaya’s Songs to Make You Smile.

Kris
kristin@comicattack.net

Review copy provided by Digital Manga Publishing (via eManga.com).

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7 Comments



  1. Ah, I felt I should add…. I mention the title has graphic sex in it. It’s not outright pornography. If you’ve seen the more hard core stuff, you can tell the difference. But it is still more than a regular book, and if you’re not used to seeing that sort of detail, it can be shocking or surprising. 801 Media is DMP’s label for the more explicit stuff, and I’ll probably never review one of those titles here.



  2. I don’t know if you’ve read any of the Crying Freeman series but that’s got some pretty graphic sex scenes as well. If it moves the story and doesn’t feel like it’s forced in there just to show two people having sex then it’s all good other than that it’s a waste of time IMO.

    When you say that the “history is a bit confusing” is the story trying to use real world historical events and weave in their own take or are things just not explained well and not developed?

    Oh and THANK YOU for suggestion Blade of the Immortal great story so far and I’m ordering the next few volumes soon 🙂



  3. Umm…hmmm…..
    It is necessary, and it’s not necessary. Personally I think it’s a little overdone, and a bit too random, which is why I didn’t jump at the title. BUT. It’s also necessary to show the relationship between the two men. If you took the sex out, the story wouldn’t make any sense. But the actual scenes become a little cliche at times, though that isn’t uncommon.

    The history is made up. It takes place in an alternate 1920s. There are, I think, three alliances: Eastern, Western, Eurote. But, like I said, the first volume doesn’t label the country/alliance the main characters are in (first point of confusion, though Taki is Asian, I assume Japanese, which is why I assumed they’re the Eastern Alliance). Then there’s this mess about…Taki goes to school in Eurote (I think) to learn about weaponry (this is mostly in volume two, but it’s hinted at in volume 1), and then returns home to lead his army. And I think Taki’s country used to be allied with Eurote against the Western Alliance? That sounds right.

    It’s a lot of information that unravels slowly, and kind of jumps around, or isn’t explained (until maybe later). There’s at least, I think, 100 years of back history of this war that had ended, and is now starting up again.

    Glad you are liking Blade of the Immortal!



  4. […] Door) Michelle Smith on vol. 3 of Kimi ni Todoke: From Me to You (Soliloquy in Blue) Kristin on vol. 1 of Maiden Rose (Comic Attack) James Fleenor on vol. 1 of Maoh: Juvenile Remix (Anime Sentinel) Sean Gaffney on […]



  5. […] Door) Michelle Smith on vol. 3 of Kimi ni Todoke: From Me to You (Soliloquy in Blue) Kristin on vol. 1 of Maiden Rose (Comic Attack) James Fleenor on vol. 1 of Maoh: Juvenile Remix (Anime Sentinel) Sean Gaffney on […]


  6. Marfisa

    Maybe this is what you meant by saying that Claus was sexually violent toward Taki out of anger at Taki’s submissiveness. But based on volume one, I got the impression that Claus was trying to get some kind of overt reciprocal reaction of sexual pleasure or affection out of Taki. He seemed to become angry and violent because Taki pretty much just passively allowed him to do what he wanted without really saying anything or changing expression much in response (at least until the scene toward the end where Claus forcibly penetrated him while Taki protested and cried “No!”). Possibly Taki’s sexual passivity brings out the worst in Claus because it makes him suspect that Taki doesn’t really care about Claus at all and is merely letting the other officer use his body in order to ensure that Claus will continue to be his suicidally loyal–and extremely useful in battle–vassal. Or maybe Taki’s usual non-reactions infuriate Claus for more typical seme reasons like a frustrated desire to see his usually nondemonstrative uke act as overtly aroused and emotionally carried away as he is himself. Either way, it certainly is rather warped, although hopefully the events at the end of volume one will have an enlightening effect on Claus and lead him to exhibit greater consideration and restraint.


  7. Kristin

    I think all of that is completely valid. It can be interpreted in different ways, I think. From what I’ve read, that I can remember….. I agree that Claus does it because he wants a stronger reaction. But I still think that he’s angry that Taki is so submissive to him. You’ve got this guy who is basically royalty, extremely dignified and strong, and pure. But Taki completely gives in to him. And keeps letting Claus do whatever he wants. But I also think that plays into Claus being angry that Taki isn’t expressing anything. All of those things play off each other.

    But, and I can’t remember where in the story this is, the fact that Taki gives in to Claus destroys him. The doctor talks about this to Claus a bit in this volume. It’s Taki’s purity that gives him the god-like status he has, and allows him to lead the people. Without it, he’s essentially worthless. And Claus should be executed for taking that from him. I think that’s proof that Taki cares for Claus as more than just keeping him loyal or whatever. Because he’s risking everything. Though even that seems to make Claus angry. Like “Why are you doing that for the likes of me?” He’s just a mess, lol.



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