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Utahime: The Songstress


Utahime: The Songstress

by Aki


Once upon a time, in a kingdom far, far away…

There was a tradition, a legacy that stated that this kingdom's heir would always be male, and the songstresses who protect the land with their magical, nightly lullaby would always be female. Everything is about to change now, for a female sovereign has been born as well as a male songstress.
Utahime: The Songstress is a one-shot story about Kain, the first male songstress and how his only friend Thomas's shift in perspective will change the land. Kain and his twin sister Maria are the children of their village's current songstress. Everyone just assumed that Maria would be the next songstress, and started bribing her at a young age so she wouldn't feel the need to rebel when she would inevitably realize that she is trapped by her duty.
The village chief's son Thomas is their best friend. His whole life, he has protected Maria and tried in vain to be Kain's friend. Jealous of Maria's status, Kain runs away for several years, leaving Thomas alone to watch over Maria. When another songstress happens to find Kain, she instantly recognizes his voice. Kain realizes he has made a terrible mistake in allowing his sister to pretend to take on the duties that are rightfully his to bear.
The plot layout in Utahime is fairly common. It starts in the present where the reader learns the end of the story, then flashes back to several years prior to show the events that lead up to it. The one thing that this story lacks is the cause of Maria's death. It is implied early on that her attempts to sing lead to her demise, but there is no explanation if it is a magical, divine, or physical cause. Her inevitable death is what the whole story leads up to. It is the payoff, and yet it leaves the reader a bit unfulfilled. Is there something that has been lost in the translation, perhaps?
The artwork is very youthful and light with soft lines and eyes. Aside from roses behind some of the cells, there is otherwise no unnecessary details within the frame. This is a bit strange for a one-shot story. One would think there might be more attention to detail. The simplicity perhaps keeps the story from getting too dark, but it certainly had the opportunity to go down that road.
Utahime: The Songstress is unlikely to change any lives, which is a little sad because the concept had a lot of potential to blossom into a dramatic story filled with the conflict of a changing world. Being a one-volume story though, there isn't much else to see aside from the bonus story Darika at the end.

Reviewed by Courtney Kraft on April 8, 2009

Utahime: The Songstress
by Aki

  • Publication Date: April 8, 2009
  • Genres: Graphic Novel
  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Digital Manga
  • ISBN-10: 1569700443
  • ISBN-13: 9781569700440