The Lion and the Bride
ライオンと花嫁 (Lion to Hanayome)
Josei – Romance
3 Volumes (complete)
Media Do (Akita Publishing)
Yua has a secret: she’s secretly dating her teacher, Ryo! He’s a kind, caring man, unlike the jerk who sits next to her in class who rudely turned down her friend. When Yua’s last remaining relative, her grandmother, passes away, Yua fears she’s going to be alone. But then Ryo proposes! Yua can’t help but look forward to her new status as a wife, but her husband has something to tell her…
Let’s start with the good: the covers for The Lion and the Bride are some of the prettiest I’ve seen. I like the character close-ups in formal wear as they hold on to flowers. The art inside is rather pretty as well, with crisp visuals and solid backgrounds.
I also like how Yua is a bit different from typical heroines. She has a bit of an ojou-sama or villainess vibe since she routinely praises herself. She regularly calls herself cute and isn’t too humble about her cooking skills and such. She’s not a total narcissist, and many of her comments are a way to lighten up the day or to navigate a tough situation. But in female-oriented works with a girl lead, heroines tend to be shy, demure, and/or average. If you think in terms of The Golden Girls, most heroines are a Rose, maybe a Dorothy. Yua is more of a Blanche type. She may have a little too much self-confidence or rush to judgment at times, but it’s a nice change-of-pace in a lead, especially for a story without a lot of supporting characters and/or isekai tones.
So the cute and confident Yua is going out with Ryo, her homeroom teacher. Ryo is rather popular since he’s good-looking and tends to be very complimentary. But he saves his highest praise for Yua, his girlfriend. So when Yua’s grandmother, who has already been staying in the hospital, passes away, he decides to reassure Yua she’s not alone by marrying her. Yua agrees even though Ryo wants to tell her something; she’s confident she can handle anything.
Well, it turns out her beloved sensei has a son… a son who’s the same age as her. Who is a model. And in the same class. And sharply turned down her best friend’s confession. And called her a spoiled brat. And doesn’t recycle.
Subaru lives with Ryo and doesn’t care for women, much less the one his father brought home. He tells Yua his father can’t help but feel sorry for her, just like how Ryo rescued their pet cat. Yua is quite upset the jerk from her class is now her stepson, but as she sees how hard-working he is, she wants to make her new family work, including getting along with Subaru.
So The Lion and the Bride has a lot of levels to make readers turn away from it. It’s an age-gap romance with a significant difference in years/experience, and a student-teacher one to boot. Plus, Ryo didn’t reveal much about his past before marrying Yua. While we know very little about how he and Yua got together, Yua does narrate she fell for him when he was concerned about her family life, so that adds to the (perceived or real) skeeviness of the situation. But on top of all that, this is a love triangle story. Ryo makes an ominous comment about not wanting his son to fall for Yua, and she ends up spending a lot of time with Subaru.
Thus, the story is bound to end in heartache for one of the main characters. Because it’s clear from Ryo’s statement some type of harem ending is out of the question. The series is only three volumes long, so either Subaru, who claims to hate women, is going to suddenly going to fall for his stepmom and have to watch his dad be all flirty with the woman he loves or Yua is going to be have a change of heart, perhaps in an NTR way. I’m sure many of you are immediately rooting for Subaru simply because it’s better for Yua to be with someone her own age rather than a much older man (and one in a position of authority). But that also means all the doting Ryo does goes to someone who wants to dump him to be with his own son.
Now, at three volumes, the manga is fairly low-risk if the synopsis isn’t a turn-off for you. Yua and Subaru are in their last year of high school, and Yua’s goal is to graduate with her marriage still a secret and then to have a big wedding. Things go awry, of course, but the relatively short finish line for the characters means the manga’s story isn’t automatically placed into rushed territory. This also limits the number of significant characters. Yua’s best friend (the one rejected by Subaru) has minimal influence in the story. Basically, it’s the main three plus the shadow of what happened to Ryo’s previous wife / Subaru’s mom.
And… that’s basically it. A bunch of drama as Yua tries to be a wife in more than just name only, Subaru fights off the weird feelings inside him, and Ryo dreams of a picture-perfect family with his beloved by his side and his son happier than ever, preferably with his own woman by his side. Nobody is very forthcoming, which causes a lot of issues and compiles the misunderstandings and coincidences. Yua, for instance, arranges for a mini-honeymoon but ends up picking a place Ryo (and a very young Subaru) has visited before. Yua runs off in embarrassment and guess who happens to be working there. The manga leans toward the dramatic side, but between Yua’s self-praise, her cat-and-dog fighting with Subaru, and such, the tension is never too thick.
By the end, no one comes across as great. They certainly could have come across worse with even more secrets and lies, but still, I don’t know how many readers will actually be cheering on the characters versus just reading to see how big of a train wreck their lives are by the time the manga finishes. The actual romance is secondary to the tension of wanting to know who Yua ends up with. Ryo showers Yua with words of affection, but he can’t go out with her much in public because of his position. That means Subaru is around for more typical high school date-like experiences. While I think the ending was planned from the start, there is an aspect that sort of cheapens the whole experience, an almost retcon.
I did praise the art, as it is quite bright and eye-catching. While a lot of romances have a wispier style of art, Sakurano’s characters and paneling are a little more bold, relatively speaking. Probably a good way to describe it is like a visual novel — the manga-style influences are there and pop out, but things like eyes and such aren’t overly detailed or too bright as if they were made for an animated show. Despite Yua’s self-proclaimed cuteness and perfection, we actually don’t see her dolled up very often. But while Sakurano may not have the most detailed style, what’s important is the visuals pop off the page.
Honorifics are used. “Sensei” is also kept. There are a few mistakes, but since this is a fairly straightforward manga, there’s not much to talk about.
The Lion and the Bride is going to have a very narrow audience based upon the setup. And from that pool, there are going to be fans of Ryo and Subaru with one side going to be disappointed in the final pairing, and even readers who haven’t picked a ship may be uncomfortable with the characters’ actions with all the NTR shades.
Media Do also released Sakurano’s The Trouble with My Boss. Kodansha Comics is publishing Irresistible Mistakes, which Sakurano drew the art for.
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