Comics / Manga

Utahime The Songstress

By Leroy Douresseaux
March 26, 2009 - 11:04


Fantasy/Drama; Rated “16+Young Adult”

In the mythology of the manga Utahime-The Songstress, an unnamed land is protected by a male sovereign, who rules the land from the capitol (the center of the land), and a songstress, a female who lives in a tower on the outskirts of the kingdom.  Her singing – a protective lullaby – flows inward to the center of the land.  The songstress of this tale is Maria, who is actually but one of a network of songstresses whose towers ring the land.

Things have changed, however; now, there is a female sovereign and a male songstress.  A decade ago, Kain ran away from home, leaving his twin sister Maria to carry the burden of the songstress.  With the twin’s childhood friend, Thomas, watching over her, Maria takes upon herself her mother’s burden and begins singing at night with a voice that is supposed to protect the land.  But the burden isn’t really hers, so this story tells the tragic tale of a reluctant utahime.

THE LOWDOWN:  Some may remember the Oscar-nominated film, Remains of the Day.  Directed by James Ivory and based upon the Booker Prize-winning novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, the film focused on an English butler and his friend, a maid trapped in an unhappy marriage.  Neither the butler nor the maid ever express even in simple terms his or her deep affection and love for the other.  The film encompasses many themes, among them: social constraints, loyalty, love, and meaningful friendships.

Utahime-The Songstress shares many of those themes, dealing with them to one degree or another, but especially focusing on love, loyalty, and social constraints.  The tragedy of Utahime is that the characters ultimately express their affections and feelings when it’s too late, so any happiness or victory is bittersweet.  What isn’t bittersweet is reading this appealing tale.  What manga-ka (creator) Aki offers here is a lyrical tale that weaves the past and present into a whole – a tapestry that chronicles the lives of a small group of endearing characters.  This is a character driven tale, and although the scenario in which the characters play is fantastical, these characters and their trials are timeless and universal.  It presents sadness and regret, but is ultimately redemptive, something for which we can all hope to see in our relationships whenever they hit hard times.

POSSIBLE AUDIENCE:  Fans of character-driven, fantasy dramas will enjoy Utahime-The Songstress.






Last Updated: August 31, 2023 - 08:12

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