This tale of an intersex Richard III becomes more and more interesting with each volume. Kanno is definitely having a lot of fun with the whole medieval milieu following the end of the War of the Roses. While the first two volumes were a bit confusing owing to a huge array of characters, by this title the list is narrowing nicely. It may still be a huge shock to see an actual Gallery of London portrait compared to the lovely stylized manga character. But the appeal of this title is definitely reminiscent of seminal 1970s shoujo classics such as Rose of Versailles: The pertinent historical facts are there but a whole lot of drama is woven around them.
Former King Henry VI has regained lucidity through Richard; but if Henry’s insanity was a tragedy, his recovery is a national disaster. Abandoning wife Margaret of Anjou and disinherited son Edward, Henry seeks out the solace that Richard provides. Unfortunately, at this moment, Richard has to provide unwilling alibi to his licentious brother Henry V – who has decided to marry beneath status to widow Elizabeth of York. Her scheming, along with Margaret of Anjou’s, threaten to destroy all the happiness any of the York or Lancastrian men can achieve. Caught between the scheming are the Kingmaker – Earl of Warwick and a young but fierce Duke of Buckingham.
Anyone knowledgeable about this period of the War of the Roses can enjoy the liberties taken by Kanno to create her story. Sure, it is high drama through a modern sensibility. But Kanno has laid her groundwork correctly and the known facts are there for a somewhat supernatural mystery taking more emphasis from Shakespeare (with all the historical faults therein) rather than Wikipedia. Little details – such as the two young men (Richard and Edward) who would marry the same woman, Anne Neville, share a ‘kiss’ in a river rescue. Kanno enjoys her foreshadowing that the men would share much more in the future.
Those without knowledge of the period can sit back and enjoy the plot of schemes and the rise and fall of kings. Although we know for sure that Richard III was slightly hunched but not a cripple (or intersex, here) this is still a greatly enjoyable fictionalization of history. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.