Shinobi Life 2 by Shoko Conami: B

shinobilife2From the back cover:
Beni convinces Kagetora to go back with her to the future—as a student! Everything is going fine until they meet a strange and mysterious classmate, Iwatsuru. As Kagetora and Beni’s interest in one another blossoms, Beni’s father reminds Kagetora that he is only a mere bodyguard and nothing more! What’s worse, he reveals that he has already arranged for Beni to get married—to Iwatsuru! A test of true love and courage begins…

Now that she and Kagetora have both returned to the present and he’s no longer seeing her as the untouchable princess he used to guard, Beni’s thinking that everything is going to be fine. She’s trying to get Kagetora accustomed to living in the future—enrolling him in school and having a nice bedroom set up for him—but he can’t change right away. When her father notices Beni and Kagetora getting close, however, he reminds Kagetora of his promise to be mindful of social rank and informs Beni that he has arranged for her to marry a surly classmate, Iwatsuru.

Another thing that Kagetora is unable to jettison from his past is his unquestioning respect for authority, and Beni is frustrated when he doesn’t speak up with any objections to her marrying someone else. Her fiancé is a real creep, though, and as much as Kagetora tells himself not to intervene, he does step in when Beni grows truly frightened. His meddling irritates Iwatsuru, who has an unexpected houseguest—a ninja from the past with a grudge against Kagetora.

This series really gets some things exactly right. The chemistry between the leads is strong, leading to some genuinely sexy moments. I love, too, that their cultural differences are so well-integrated; it doesn’t feel like some artificial obstacle that Kagetora would step aside for a suitor chosen by Beni’s father—it feels perfectly in character. Beni’s hurt feelings when Kagetora fails to defy her father are poignant, and when she realizes that if he’s incapable of rebelling she’ll just have to be the one to do it, it’s a nice moment.

I was disappointed in the methods Beni takes to break off the engagement, however. She somehow believes that this jerk is going to be fooled by her attempts to shake him off by being terribly rude in public, and the scenes where she tries to embarrass him are painful to endure given how good this series can be the rest of the time. Still, I’m won over again by an insight into Beni’s thoughts—she knows the time she and Kagetora have together will end someday, so she’s desperate for them to get as much time together before that happens.

As a final note, I’m also impressed by how seamlessly Conami-sensei was able to turn this concept, originally intended as a one-shot, into a series. I never would’ve realized that was the case, which is in marked contrast to a recent read, The Lizard Prince, where it could not have been more obvious.

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