4.0 out of 5 stars Torn between two ninjas
The saga of Beni sama and her dark ninja protector Kagetora continues in volume three of “Shinobi Life.”
After returning from the past, where Kagetora confused Beni sama with her great grandmother, Beni Hime and found himself in a dual with fellow ninja Hitaki, the two find their idyllic interlude shattered when Beni sama’s father introduces Beni sama to her chosen fiancé, Iwatsuru Rihito.
Rihito only wants to marry Beni sama because of his father’s commands, who tells Rihito to control her and bend her to his will. On Rihito’s side is Hitaki, who has captured Kagetora, and twists a promise from Beni sama to marry Rihito in order to save Kagetora’s life. Beni sama, still confused as to whether or not Kagetora actually loves her or only loves the image of her he sees in her face, the face which so resembles Kagetora’s time-lost love Beni Hime.
“Shinobi Life” subtitles itself “Ninjas and Romance,” but it definitely leans on the side of romance. With all these ninjas running around, there is no combat to be seen and the only use of physical prowess seems to be when Kagetora and Rihito use their skills and charms to lay a kiss on the weeping Beni sama.
The story gets tense at times, such as when Rihito’s father steps on the scene and shows the absolute cruelty that lies behind his pleasant smile. Kagetora’s simpering makes him seem like a bit of a wimp, but towards the end it seems like he might just be preparing himself for a showdown to take what is his and defend Beni sama from Rihito’s plans.
Artist Conami Shoko draws some pretty pictures, especially of the weeping Beni sama who is torn between her love for Kagetora and her duty to her father and promise to Rihito. For a shojo comic, the guys look good as well and don’t come off as your typical primping bishonen character.
The whole “Beni sama / Beni Hime” thing can get a bit linguistically confusing at times, and there was one important scene where I couldn’t figure out why Beni was crying until I re-read it and found out that Kagetora had called her by the wrong name.
All in all a decent shojo romance comic with some historical connections, and some depth and heart.