At the end of the first volume, Guan Yu and Zhang Fei have sold themselves to predatory lesbian Dong Zhou in order to secure their “brother” Liu Bei a command in the Royal Army. Dong Zhou ain’t no dummy, she’s going to have Liu Bei killed in order to keep Guan Yu and Zhang Fei for her own.
However, in Volume 2 she is foiled in this by the timely arrival of Lu Bu, a young girl with breathtaking strength. Seeing something even more potentially useful to her, Dong Zhou is willing to trade Guan Yu and Zhang Fei for Lu Bu. We learn a little bit about Dong Zhou’s past – enough to understand that her obsessive drive for power is to combat a painful and difficult rise to the top, and a reflection of her constant battle against the men who did not show her respect because she is a woman.
Dong Zhou is called away to support General He Jin in the Imperial court against the Eunuchs. She tells Liu Bei that if his volunteer army does something spectacular, she’ll give them rank, expecting both them and him to die. Only he does do something spectacular(ly stupid) and she’s impressed despite herself.
Which is exactly how I felt about this manga.
Despite the stupid premise – and the bits about the switching all the women back to being the men they should have been – this manga has actually been a not terribly bad version of the Romance. In fact, if you never were able to make heads or tails out of the original text, this would not be a horrible way to get some of the major plot points. I still don’t get Cao Cao, but that is my failing, not the story’s. ^_^
The art seems to have settled down a bit. There’s still an emphasis on portraiture, rather than action, but there’s more confidence in the lines. Service is mostly confined to shots of Guan Yu’s cleavage, a sentence which makes my head hurt. lol And Yuri is mostly set aside for power, as Dong Zhou cleverly realizes that screwing with a kid’s mind is easier than with adult minds, and tosses Guan Yu and Zhang Fei aside for Lu Bu.
If you can accept the biggest handwave, that the heros are women, and the secondary one that all the heros are women except the ones that aren’t, like Liu Bei, Cao Cao, He Jin and a few others, then the rest of the story really has no extraordinary hurdles for you to leap. It does have a few ordinary hurdles, because the Romance is not the easiest book in the world to read, as it details pretty heavy politics and military strategies.
Overall, a little despite myself, I actually liked this manga. It doesn’t look like a Volume 3 will be forthcoming at any point, which is a shame, because the world really needed another version of the Romance in which Guan Yu has cleavage.
Art – 7
Story – 8
Characters – 7, even if they are still caricatures of themselves
Yuri – 1 Predatory lesbian wasn’t predatory at all.
Service – 4 There’s cleavage shots and some light bathing, and females sleeping next to each other, oh my!
Overall – 7
My genuine thanks to Okazu Superhero Dan P. for his sponsorship of today’s review, his patience, his generosity and his excellent taste in reviewers. ;-)