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Manga / Sakura Hime: The Legend of Princess Sakura

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Sakura Hime: The Legend of Princess Sakura (Japanese title: Sakura Hime Kaden, literally "The Legend of Princess Sakura"), is a historical fantasy shojo manga written and illustrated by Arina Tanemura. It was serialized in the comic magazine Ribon from 2008 to 2012 and was published in 12 volumes. Throughout its run, a vomic (voiceover comic) and exclusive artbook was released. Viz Media later released the English version of all 12 volumes from 2011 to 2014.

The manga tells the story of 14-year-old Sakura, the princess of the moon who is betrothed to the imperial prince of the kingdom, Aoba. Sakura, however, is a descendant of Kaguya-hime (from The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter) and the wielder of the sacred blade Chizakura (Bloody Cherry Blossom), giving her the power to vanquish demons. Unfortunately, her destiny written in her soul symbol and appearance lead the reigning emperor Oura into believing she is a threat to humans.

This series provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: All the females, with the exception of Oumi, the servants, and Yuri.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: Before Maimai became a demon, he was a social outcast in his village for the his disfigured scars that were inflicted on him when a servant accidentally spilled boiling water over his infant body.
  • And I Must Scream: All the sacrifices made to Asagiri's village god turn out to be soulless hags.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: All victims of the Chizakura's blade and Byakuya bid farewell to Sakura before moving on.
  • Back from the Dead: Aoba in chapter 49, and Sakura in chapter 50.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: Any time a woman is naked on-screen (mostly Rurijo), she'll have this along with Godiva Hair to satisfy the Moral Guardians.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Asagiri treasures her friendship with Sakura, as Sakura was the first person who was kind to her after she gained powers of a one-inch spirit.
  • Becoming the Mask: Shuri originally gained Enju's trust just to spy on him, but eventually comes to like him for real. It came to the point that after Rurijo's death, he gives up on returning to his village and promises to stay with him. He eventually returns to the village in the end, as Enju is dead and his mission is accomplished.
  • Bewitched Amphibians: Hayate takes upon the appearance of a frog after Kohaku accidentally cast a spell on him.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Hayate, Shuri, and especially Aoba take it upon themselves to be older brother figures for Kohaku.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Yuri acts very sweet and innocent to Sakura when they first meet, but it's obviously an act.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Sakura ends up losing a good portion of her allies (with only Kohaku, Hayate, Fujimurasaki, Yuri and Maimai surviving) and has to seal off the moon spring water, cutting off the moon people’s source of power, causing her and Byakuya to die as well. However, Aoba is quickly revived with his curse broken, Shuri and Maimai revert back to humans and later Sakura comes back as a full human as well with help from her deceased, reuniting with Aoba.
  • Bodyguard Crush: A non-romantic example: Kohaku really, really wants to treat Aoba as a friend/older brother, but due to her professionalism, she has to treat him as her superior, putting Honor Before Reason. Aoba understands, but he'd rather she do it anyway.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: As a child, Sakura wanted to marry her older brother Kai. When Kai becomes reborn as Enju, he goes to extreme measures to keep Sakura with him, claiming he wants to protect her from humans. Turns out it's really because he wants to revive Kaguya-hime and cause a human genocide.
  • Cast from Lifespan: The blood curse for Aoba and Asagiri. Each time they use their powers to transform their lifespans halve.
  • Censorship Tropes: The original Japanese cover for vol. 5 depicted Rurijo and Sakura clinging together naked. It was replaced with the cover for chapter 18 with Sakura and her ninja friends for English releases, and the original cover was included in an extra gallery at the end of the volume.
    • Though it's worth noting that naked Rurijo does end up on volume 10, uncensored...
  • Cherry Blossom Girl: Sakura, of course, from her Meaningful Name to her appearances with Cherry Blossoms.
  • Cleavage Window: Most of Rurijo's costumes have this.
  • Combat Stilettos: Sakura and Rurijo don high heels in their battle forms.
  • Crossdresser: Maimai is a male who dresses up as a woman thanks to his Freudian Excuse of desiring to be beautiful. He eventually drops it when Yuri accepts him as her twin brother.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Asagiri has both the power of a yukionna and one-inch spirit, but her lifespan is cut in half.
  • Cute Clumsy Girl: Kohaku knows her ninja stuff well, but it's too bad she's The Klutz.
  • Deal with the Devil: Most of Enju's subordinates were originally humans before joining him as demons when he makes a bargain with them.
  • Death Equals Redemption: The only way to free Oumi when she is transformed into a demon is to kill her, which is what Sakura is forced to do.
  • Do Not Call Me Sir: When he was a kid, Aoba hated being called the "emperor" and would rather his friends call him by his name instead. He continues to insist Kohaku to call him by his real name when she stops due to her epiphany about their social statuses.
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: Maimai is actually a man.
  • Dude, She's Like in a Coma: Hayate kisses Kohaku when she slips in and out of a coma after her battle with Shuri.
  • Evil Twin: Rurijo looks exactly like Sakura, as that was the appearance Enju had given her.
  • Facial Markings: Rurijo has this not just on her face, but all over her body. This is because her real body is actually a tree, and the markings are spells designed to hold her body together.
  • Fake Defector: Kohaku and Hayate were told that Shuri betrayed the ninja village by killing Hato and joining Enju. Hayate realizes during Shuri and Kohaku's fight that Shuri is currently on a secret mission from the elders to spy on Enju, and Hato had purposely killed himself so that he would be able to gain Enju's trust.
  • Fantastic Racism: There's a huge rivalry between demons and humans. Poor Sakura is caught up in the middle.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Kohaku wears them. At age 10, they were much bigger than in the present day.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Ukyo. It... didn't go so well for him.
    • Rurijo also joins Sakura circa chapter 41.
  • Heroic BSoD: Sakura goes through one after she's forced to kill Oumi. The same thing happens when she kills Asagiri and Rurijo dies.
  • Honor Before Reason: Asagiri was willing to become a Human Sacrifice to her village's god, and her love for Ukyo wasn't enough to overpower her loyalty to the village. She even explicitly states the trope when he confronts her:
    Asagiri: It's an honor to be chosen! How can I just decline?! Especially for a selfish reason!
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Shuri is well aware of Kohaku's feelings for Hayate and personally helps her find a cure for the Forced Transformation curse she put on him. Part of why he tries to gain Enju's trust in the first place was so that he could steal the moon water to cure him.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: Byakuya's youthful form stops even Maimai in his tracks.
  • Killed Off for Real: Oumi, Ukyo, Asagiri in chapter 44, Rurijo in chapter 45, Enju in chapter 48, and Byakuya in chapter 49.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Plenty. Sakura is forced to fight Oumi early on in the series, and later, Enju has Asagiri attack Sakura, though she is unaware of her opponent until she stabs her in the chest.
  • Long-Haired Pretty Boy: Enju, Fujimurasaki, Shuri, Ukyo... practically all the men who appear in the series.
  • Long-Lost Relative: Maimai and Yuri turn out to be siblings when The Reveal shows that both of them have the same soul symbol.
  • Love Dodecahedron: A quite complicated one. Shuri loves Kohaku, who loves Hayate, who grows attracted to Rurijo, who starts to like him back but is still hanging onto Enju, who, along with Aoba and Fujimurasaki, wants Sakura, but Sakura would rather stay with Aoba.
  • Love Redeems: It only takes the sight of Asagiri for Ukyo to turn on Enju since she was the only reason why he joined him in the first place. Also, Rurijo has a lot of Pet the Dog moments after falling in love with Hayate. She even tries to kill Enju with the Chizakura... with predictable results.
  • Miniature Senior Citizen: Byakuya. It's a disguise she took in order to hide her true identity as the founder of the Moon Kingdom.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Rurijo is naked in many of her appearances, and when she's wearing clothes, she wears some of the skimpiest outfits ever, many of which include Combat Stilettos, a Cleavage Window, and leotards that show that Leg Focus.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Hosoyuki deliberately tries to kill Asagiri and even gets the village to support her campaign to make her the Human Sacrifice in a fit of jealousy over her relationship with Ukyo. Luckily, the Alpha Bitch who turns out to be just a Jerk with a Heart of Gold comes to her rescue, but still.
  • Never Mess with Granny: Maimai learns this the hard way with Byakuya.
  • Ninja Log: Kohaku uses one on Sakura when Sakura threatens to kill her.
  • The Ojou: Yuri.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: Aoba can transform into a large white wolf.
  • Pink Girl, Blue Boy: Sakura is named after cherry blossoms, which are pink, and is continuously depicted with a pink color scheme. The "ao" in Aoba's name means blue and likewise, he is depicted with a blue color scheme.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: The main reason why Shuri estranges himself from the ninja village is to carry out a secret espionage mission on Enju and the moon people.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Even as a demon, Ukyo still puts his Undying Loyalty to Asagiri first even though he knows it will get him killed... which is what happens.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Rurijo is very upset when she discovers Enju made her with the image of Sakura, believing that he made her as a substitute for her. Also, Enju had planned on keeping Sakura with him to revive and replace her with Kaguya-hime in order to gain complete control of the Chizakura and start a mass human genocide.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Sakura is the princess of the moon. Aoba and Fujimurasaki are princes of the kingdom.
  • Screw Destiny: In Asagiri's Dark and Troubled Past, she was supposed to be a Human Sacrifice to satisfy the god in her village, something she was willing to do. When said god turned out to be an insatiable Eldritch Abomination that did nothing but feed off of souls, she became disillusioned about serving her guardian and promptly killed him off, accidentally wiping out her village in the process.
    • This is also part of the main conflict in the story. Sakura's soul symbol is "destroy", meaning that she's destined to bring about destruction to her friends and loved ones, and she tries her best to avoid it.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Kohaku and Hayate. Hayate obviously likes her before developing a relationship with Rurijo, but since they were small, Kohaku has been very embarrassed by his advances.
  • Soul Jar: Rurijo is actually nothing more than a sentient lapis lazuli stone, but was given a body by Enju made from a tree. Unfortunately, because of this, her body is extremely fragile and she has to regularly replenish her strength by bathing in water at least twice a day.
  • Spotting the Thread: Aoba realizes that that he is being seduced by Rurijo instead of Sakura because she had lit incense, which Sakura herself hates. In addition, her scent aside from that was off; since Aoba can transform into a wolf, his sense of smell is very sensitive.
  • Third Eye: Enju and his followers all have a third eye after drinking from the moon spring.
  • Third-Person Person: Kohaku refers to herself in third person.
  • Together in Death: When Asagiri is killed by Sakura, she reunites with Ukyo in the afterlife.
  • Tsundere: Asagiri in the past, and Rurijo.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Deconstructed. Rurijo is actually a sentient lapis lazuli stone, but she's treated as a real person by everyone around her. Part of her story is finding people who love her and appreciate her as though she was actually a human being.
  • Where I Was Born and Razed: Maimai promptly eradicated his entire village, even killing the only girl who genuinely loved him, after making a Deal With Enju. Asagiri also destroyed her village when she discovers the truth about the routine sacrifices made to her village's god.

Alternative Title(s): Sakura Hime Kaden