Title: Golden Japanesque: A Splendid Yokohama Romance
Author: Kaho Miyasaka
Release Date: February 23, 2021
Publisher: Yen Press
Taking place in Meiji-era Japan, Golden Japanesque: A Splendid Yokohama Romance Vol. 1 begins its story with sixteen-year-old Maria. Unlike others around her, Maria has natural blue eyes, and her hair is golden, which are features she acquired from her father, who left overseas when she was just a child.
This was the time period of the late 1800s to early 1900s where worries of mixing with foreigners were shunned. Filled with shame, her strict mother raised her to keep her head down and hide her appearance, so entering the book we see a very plain and timid girl.
In some ways, Golden Japanesque is a Cinderella story of sorts but set in a different time period. Maria’s mom starts working for a rich family who has a son named Rintarou. Maria gets to meet Rintarou on a few occasions, and this begins the possibility of a romance.
There’s nothing too remarkable about their interactions, but I don’t want to give it all away. Rintarou projects the usual teasing tough-guy demeanor with a sweet and caring underside. Maria plays the helpless damsel in distress Cinderella, and together we find a familiar situation where Rintarou can play the hero.
The pacing of Golden Japanesque is a bit slow, but that’s usually expected in these introduction volumes. There’s not too much text found throughout the panels so that the book can be read rather quickly. Much of the narrative can be told with the illustrated facial expressions alone, which matches Maria since she doesn’t seem to talk much. Maria has a more introspective personality. This volume goes over Maria, and her family’s placement in society through different character interactions provides a decent introduction to their situation.
The illustrations are standard, but I really like the drawings where Maria has her golden hair. They match the story in the sense that she’s finding herself and slowly beginning to like herself. I can see more details during those golden parts, which emphasize the story, contrasted to when she’s plain and covering up her actual appearance. The art that starts each chapter is also detailed and lovely, and I can’t wait to see more.
As I reached the end of the volume, the preview for Golden Japanesque volume 2 holds us with anticipation. I’m hoping for more romance as the preview hints there will be more troubles for Maria to come.
With Maria’s slow acceptance of herself, the ending of volume one can go many ways, whether it be the history of her past, the jealousy troubles from other girls who have an interest in Rintarou, the love connection between Maria and Rintarou in general, or even the family conflict between Maria and her mother. I’m looking forward to seeing Maria grow her confidence in her life and to see what unfolds.
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