Two Flowers for the Dragon 1 by Nari Kusakawa: A-

From the back cover:
Shakuya is the heir to the Dragon Clan and next in line to rule the land. Oh, and she also happens to have two fiancés! Lucien won Shakuya’s love and her hand in marriage, but he disappeared before the wedding day. So the princess did what any woman would do—replaced him. Kuwan stepped in as her new soon-to-be-husband, and everything was fine until fiancé number one came back to town—with everything but his memory. What is a girl to do?! Now, Shakuya must choose who she wants to marry, using her two magical tattoos that change to reflect her feelings for each of the suitors!

I find it simultaneously amusing and perplexing that the words “magical tattoos” are in a different color and font than the rest of the text, as if that is the most important aspect of the story. I make my own fun by imagining purchasing decisions being made solely on a basis of “Ooh, magical tattoos! That settles it, then.”

Back cover mockery aside, I really, really like this. It’s cute, it’s funny, and I like the characters. Shakuya is far more sensible and intelligent than most shoujo heroines, and is perfectly fine with the necessity of a political marriage, though she’d prefer it if she and her spouse could also be in love. Kuwan is serious and sometimes kind, though not very merciful, and while Lucien begins as cocky and teasing, he also has a more gentle and affectionate personality.

I like the way Kusakawa handles the story’s gimmicks, namely Shakuya’s ability to turn into a dragon when her “feelings needle swings into the red zone” and the magical tattos that serve as a gauge for her feelings for each fiancé. The positive and negative aspects of her transformation ability are both explored well. The growth of the tattoos is nicely integrated into the story and, as Shakuya’s feelings for Lucien bloom ever so slightly, I found my own opinion of him shifting as the story wore on and more of Kuwan’s flaws became apparent.

Too, I like how little things show how well the stories are thought out. Like, early on Shakuya mentions how she has difficulty braiding her own, very long hair. Later, when her handmaid has skipped out on her duties in order to attend a market day, Shakuya must dress herself and appears with her hair in mere pigtails. It’s a very minor thing, but somehow impressed me immensely. Also, the final chapter, with its plot about snake charmers who kidnap Shakuya, could’ve been ridiculously silly but was instead unique and quite exciting.

I’m sure some will not be fans of the art, but I like it a lot. Kusakawa has a distinctive style and I have no complaints about it. In fact, now I feel compelled to read everything by her that I own.

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  1. Danielle Leigh says

    I really like this title a lot — I’ve read Palette of 12 Secret colors by same creator and it is very well done, but so far Two Flowers remains my favorite title of hers. Shojo like this makes me very happy — I’m so glad CMX still puts out so many fun titles like this.

  2. It’s definitely a happy-making title. I am going to start Palette in the near future. The covers for that series are some of the prettiest I’ve ever seen.

  3. Thanks for the review, I’ve been curious about this series!


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