“Heaven Is the Banks of the Red River”
• Chie Shinohara
• Viz (2004–ongoing)
• Shogakukan (Shôjo Comic, 1995–2002)
• Shôjo, Fantasy, Romance
• 16+ (violence, nudity, sexual situations)
To serve as a sacrifice for the evil sorceress-queen Nakia, teenage Yuri is teleported to Turkey’s ancient Hittite Empire in the fourteenth century B.C. Escaping Nakia’s clutches for the first of many times, she is taken under the wing of the handsome Prince Kail, whom she joins in his struggles for the throne, while being hailed by the common people as an incarnation of the goddess Ishtar. But how can they fall in love when she wants to return to her own time? Part Cecil B. DeMille historical epic, part Harlequin romance, the plot of Red River is more frankly titillating than Basara or even Fushigi Yûgi, with numerous scenes of the naked heroine being almost ravished in harems and lily-pad-choked pools. Minus the near-sex scenes, though, it is a surprisingly simple story, whose royal intrigues and military campaigns were clearly written for young readers. Despite the presence of magic as a plot device, Red River works well as a history lesson on ancient Egypt and the Middle East; unfortunately, the lanky, old-fashioned shôjo artwork can’t do much with the generic character designs and endless ruler-drawn backgrounds of mud-brick houses. (The few bits of jewelry and decoration that seem to have been based on actual historical models stand out obviously.) To its credit, though, Red River has the courage to let its characters actually suffer and change, so the strong plotting provides a reason to keep reading.