The Heiress and the Chauffeur, Vol. 1 written and illustrated by Keiko Ishihara
Published by: Viz Media LLC on May 3, 2016
Review Source: Publisher, Edelweiss
Genres: Manga, Shojo
Plot: Nouveau riche heiress + handsome chauffer = recipe for romance and social disgrace.
Review: The Heiress and the Chauffeur was a bit of a mixed bag for me. I liked the premise (forbidden love during Japan’s Taisho era), because hey, it sounds like a Japanese Downton Abbey. I can get down with that. Sayaka and Narutaki’s relationship feels genuine enough, although there isn’t a lot of context to support their deep connection. I even liked that Sayaka isn’t all wimpy even though she has an injured foot and her parents are gone. She has a lot of girl power that we don’t always see in shojo manga, and it is refreshing when the protagonist isn’t a spineless husk. I even liked the illustrations… but it still didn’t wow me.
Maybe it’s because of the whole master /servant dynamic, but I felt that their relationship was a little off. Part of the time Sayaka clings to the notion they have a sibling dynamic, and the other half is spent defending his place and role in her life in a more romantic way. It felt wishy-washy, and slightly creepy. I know this is a thing in manga, but it’s not my cup of tea. I’m also not sure that it adds anything to the plot. Sayaka is presented as a very steadfast character, making it feel unnatural to watch her flounder with her emotions.
I also had a hard time with the pace. Characters seem to flit in and out of the school without a real sense of purpose. There is very little in the way of introductions, world building, or dramatic tension, which made it hard to connect with the cast.
However, I do feel that it is important to note that this is the mangaka’s debut series. There is a very real possibility that she will find her stride once she has had a chance to strengthen her skills and build up content. Ultimately, The Heiress and the Chauffeur has the potential to become a unique and dynamic manga, but I fear it might take a few volumes to work out the kinks.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Who Should Snag It: If you are a fan of super sappy romance with a master / slave undertone, you might like this one.
*I would like to thank Edelweiss and the publisher for providing me with a free ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review*