Manga Review: Haou Airen

Haou Airen by Mayu Shinjo
(Supreme Emperor’s Lover)

Publisher: Currently unavailable in U.S.
Price: Unknown
Genre: Shoujo, Drama, Romance
Themes: High School, Hong Kong Mafia
Rating: Mature 18+
Volumes: 9
ISBNs: Unknown

Basic Premise:
Kurumi Akino is the typical high school girl trying to keep her family afloat after her father dies and her mother falls ill, leaving her to take care of her younger twin brothers as well as hold down a job and go to school. She stumbles across a man in the street who is hurt and insists on helping him. He repays her by kidnapping her to Hong Kong and holding her hostage so that she’ll belong only to him because he is Hakuron, the head of one of the most powerful mafia groups in Hong Kong.

Kurumi is all prepared to be Hakuron’s girlfriend but she also becomes his greatest weakness as Hakuron’s enemies try to use her as a way to get at him.

Sex Shown:
Female full frontals and allusions to sexual acts with character positioning and disembodied body parts. Rape scenes and forced sex scenes as well.

When I read this, I was absolutely sure that this series came before Sensual Phrase. It seemed like a test run before Mayu-sensei wrote the 18 volume epic that I love so much. Imagine my surprise when I found out that Haou Airen actually came AFTER Sensual Phrase.

I’m not sure what happened but Haou Airen didn’t live up to the standards set in Sensual Phrase, in my mind. The beginning was completely rushed. Mayu-sensei expected the reader to believe that Kurumi fell in love with Hakuron after only knowing him for a few hours, during which time he threatened to rape her on the street while he’s being pursued by an unknown enemy out to kill him.

If that isn’t enough, Hakuron then proceeds to kidnap her to Hong Kong where he tells her she’ll never see her family again (don’t forget her dad is dead, her mother is sick, and her younger twin brothers are only like 6 or 7 so they now have to fend for themselves). While their sexual relationship doesn’t start off right away, it was hard to see a love relationship starting at all.

I definitely didn’t like Hakuron, even if he did look a lot like Sakuya. As a hero, Mayu-sensei never really redeemed him. When a hero does something truly despicable to the heroine (like rape her or threaten to kill her, which Hakuron did more than once), it’s the author’s burden to find some way to redeem that hero and make him worthy of the heroine’s love so the reader goes back to that warm happy place again. Mayu-sensei just uses the excuse that he’s in the mafia and that’s how that lifestyle is led, but he’s really sensitive and caring. *skeptical look* Uh huh.

Oh, and Kurumi is no prize either. She is about three seconds away from being TSTL. The only reason she isn’t completely TSTL is because she actually lived through the moments that would normally kill a typical TSTL heroine.

The ending had a twist I wasn’t expecting. But the overall story wasn’t something I really enjoyed. It was a typical Mayu Shinjo story with all the sex and violence and the ‘not meant for younger audiences’ aspects but the beginning could have been better and it would have been nice if Hakuron had been redeemed.

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