Review by: Gretchen Silverstedt
Publisher: Viz Media (Shojo Beat Manga)
Author: Tohko Mizuno
Genre: Graphic Novel
MSRP: $8.99 US
Release Date: April 1, 2008
It’s a seemingly normal day for Akane as she walks to school with her closest male friends Tenma and Shimon. The birds are chirping merrily and the cherry blossoms are in full bloom and from somewhere within the darkness a voice calls to Akane. It is then a rip between the fabric of time and space appears and Akane catches a glimpse of a striking mystery man wearing a mask that she and her two friends are transported into another time period.
Welcome to the world of Haruka – Beyond the Stream of Time. If the name and title strike you as familiar it is because Haruka was released in Japan as a game (called Harukanaru Toki no Naka De for the original PlayStation and released by Dynasty Warriors developer Koei) and Shojo Beat’s April 2008 issue even announced that DVDs of the anime will soon reach our DVD players. At last, the first volume of this Neoromance has come to us and I must say that it was well worth the wait.
Beyond the Stream of Time’s first volume finds Akane in the Heian period of ancient Japan after having been summoned from her present time by Akram, leader of the Demon Clan. Confused at first, Akane suddenly realizes that she swallowed eight shining Dragon Jewels during her trip through the time stream. She doesn’t even know why her heart skips a beat in the presence of the handsome and mysterious Akram who tells her that he wishes to destroy the capitol.
In her confusion, Akane even runs into a child who happens to be Princess Fuji as well as the handsome swordsman, Major General Tachibana, that is ordered to protect Akane at all costs. It comes to the young school girl’s attention that she who swallows the eight Dragon Jewels becomes the Priestess of the Dragon God and thus must be appointed Eight Guardians to protect her. Yet she longs to see Akram again, even going as far as defending him from those that call him a Demon. Could it be that it was love at first sight or is Akram attempting to seduce her with his good looks?
To top it all off, both her friends from the present, Shimon and Tenma are also in this timeline along with her. It doesn’t take long for Shimon to come to Akane’s aid while the tough guy that is Tenma finds himself battling bandits as well as attempting to rescue Akane from what he thinks is her captors. During the “rescue”, however, a Dragon Jewel floats out of Akane and enters Tenma’s body. It becomes clear that Tenma is to become one of the Eight Guardians who will protect the newly installed Priestess.
We are later introduced to Yusuaki, an almost impossibly beautiful young sorcerer who is called into a mansion to clear an evil spirit that seduces men to their doom. In the middle of the exorcism, though, Akane “dream”-walked out of her body and was a witness to the exorcism. Unfortunately, Akram makes an appearance and it is there that the once high-school-girl-turned-Priestess realizes that she is in love with the Demon.
Akane is not the only one who is lovestruck, though, because before the flower purifying festival, Tenma – who has been fighting bandits as a member of the police force – declares his love for Akane. Oh, what’s a girl to do when her handsome best friend, a hot-looking demon and an equally attractive bodyguard are all fighting for her attention?
The festival begins but there’s very little to celebrate when wild beasts make their appearance and murder a few people. Akram’s appearance, however, is spoiled by Akane’s protectors who stop at nothing to protect the young girl. It is in the heat of battle that Tenma discovers his powers given to her by the Jewel that entered him and the first volume ends to revelations that – hopefully – will be explored in future volumes. How enjoyable was this volume? I had so much fun reading this and the short (but sweet) extra that offered a brief glimpse of the character’s art design.
The first volume of Haruka – Beyond the Stream of Time is merely just the beginning of an even richer and epic romance that makes this such and interesting and involving manga series. Mizuno brings us vivid storytelling with fabulous art that just makes this such a great first volume and a manga you simply must not miss. Do yourself a favor and pick this one up. I assure you that you will definitely become an instant fan.
Mizuno describes Haruka as a Neoromance and I must agree since there’s nothing quite like it. It’s a sweeping tale loaded with surreal mysticism and all those yummy cute male characters that make it hard for Akane to even concentrate. In short, Haruka story and theme is unique and unforgettable.
The art is beyond lovely and you just have to love Mizuno’s soft artistic style that makes textures feel almost dreamy. Even the characters feel like they just spilled out of a softly lucid dream.
There’s a reason Viz Media announced the upcoming North American arrival of the Haruka anime on DVD and this is because Beyond the Stream of Time is a real intriguing and delightful work of art. Sure, there are a great number of unique Shojo Beat Manga out there but this one stands out like a vivid dream you just can’t shake from your mind.