“I do not want a life that is forced on me. I’ll climb a tree for the sake of my own decisions. What I wear…Who I love… And my destiny… These are the things that I will decide for myself. “
Everyone sets standards for people, whether it is good or bad. Parents set standards for their children, teachers for their students, and bosses for their workers. However, it is not for the person who sets the standard or expectation to determine whether the standard or expectation should be met or not. It is up to us to decide if we want to live up to those expectations, or to crush those expectations, after all, we’re the ones in control of our lives. In Arina Tanemura’s latest work, released in English, The Legend of Princess Sakura (Sakura Hime Kaden), Sakura has to prove wrong people’s expectations of her as a “demon”, fight for her life, and her love.
Fourteen-year-old Princess Sakura is free-spirited and independent, living in the Heian period (794- 1185). However, a sudden message from Prince Oura, her fiancé (and betrothed) orders her to come to the capital to live with him. Sakura is annoyed, since she wants to be in control of her own life, not being ordered by someone else. She yells, while in a tree, “I hate the Prince!”, and my to her chagrin, she falls out of the tree, into the arms of the prince’s messenger. He teases her of being a “wild bear” and wonders if this really is “the princess that is fair and well-known”. Later, Sakura runs away, right into the hands of a demon. She learns the truth of her lineage- Sakura is descended from Princess Kaguya, and Sakura’s mother, refusing to fight, turned into a demon. Sakura using her strength, and powers defeats the demon, and goes with the attendant to the prince’s palace in the capital. However, the attendant is really the prince (!) and Sakura’s already said “I hate the prince!” in front of him too many times to count… Life isn’t easy being Sakura who’s descended from a demon, loves a prince, and lives in the capital where people are just too suspicious of demons-and of her.
Arina Tanemura’s latest work, The Legend of Princess Sakura is provoking. When I first read Tanemura’s work, Full Moon wo Sagashite, I thought it was some depressing story about a girl who couldn’t get over a guy. However, as I re-read it again, I realized how it was filled with thought about life, not death, and how living on is important. The Legend of Princess Sakura is no different as it deals with controlling one’s own fate, and not letting anyone else control it.