Tail of the Moon by Rinko Ueda, #1-4 (amazon.com)
Usually I tend to know what manga I’m interested in following before the first volume is published, so I tend to be resigned to reading a series very slowly as new volumes are translated. So it is a nice change to be able to go on a reading binge with a series that already has several volumes published.
Tail of the Moon isn’t deep or innovative, and its characters personify every type of shojo cliche. But it has expressive art, a story with plenty of humor, and is an excellent choice if you are looking for good quality fluff to read. Usagi is 15 years old, and one of the only girls in her village to not qualify as a ninja. She’s a total klutz, and everyone around her ducks when she has a weapon in her hands. She wants to work on a ninja assignment outside her village, so her Grandfather gives her the job of marrying Hattori Hanzo and bearing his child. Usagi says that she’s too young to get married, and her grandfather counters her argument by listing off all the 12-14 year old girls in the village who have already had babies. He also mentions that Hanzo is one of the most accomplished and handsome ninja in Iga province.
Usagi decides to take on this assignment after all, and leaves, accompanied by her little companion Mamezo. When she arrives she finds out that while Hanzo is totally uninterested in marrying her. There’s also the problem of her lack of ninja qualifications. Usagi vows not to leave and starts taking all the ninja skills classes that she skipped in the past.
Of course, Usagi’s expressive nature and boundless enthusiasm begins to get through to the more stoic and serious Hanzo. Usagi has a few talents to back her up; since she was sick so often as a child she’s made an extensive study of herbalism and she’s virtually immune to most poisons. There are plenty of obstacles in the way such as other prospective ninja brides, Usagi’s ex-fiance and childhood friend Goemon, and Tokugawa Ieyasu. Tail of the Moon has all the wacky hijinks of a romantic comedy combined with the occasional bit of ninja action, and even though the conclusion of Usagi getting together with Hanzo seems inevitable, it is fun to read about their adventures.