I fell in love with the cover when I spotted it on Twitter, I had to check it out and then I fell in love with the blurb. I am always looking around for manga like this. Slice of life, travels, gorgeous art. And this one promised everything.
Meet Isabella Bird, a slightly silly girl with tons of girl power. She is doing what most of the woman in her timeline would never dare to do, travel. And she takes it a bit further by trying to be as local as she can. So no maids, no horses, she is travelling the way most Japanese travel, walking or using someone who pulls a cart. You can still see she is a lady, given how she dresses (though she does try to do a bit more like the Japanese, for instance we see her wear a special raincoat and a hat) and how she acts, but you can also see that she is OK with things most ladies wouldn’t like.
I loved her from the start, though she was a bit silly and clumsy at times. She was also so sweet with the people who helped her out, whereas you could clearly see that it is looked upon strangely by many of the people of her country that she meets. But I loved it. That she took care to treat a sick person who helped her out, or that she gave that hairpin to a little girl, or that she climbs a big hill herself and lets the runner have an easier load.
We do see she isn’t always having a good time, she misses meat for instance, and then there are the inns that are falling apart and filled to the brim with fleas or mosquitoes.
She is so curious and writes down anything and everything she can, asking questions (which are translated by her interpreter), tries all kinds of food and tries to go where the people are. It was quite amazing, and I can imagine that she is such a well-known writer and that people love her adventures.
Just as we often see with travel stories (like a Dutch book I read a few days ago in which a Dutch girl travels to Lombok) the people are surprised with someone who looks totally different than them. They are curious, to the point of annoying and kind of creepy. I felt sorry for Isabella at times as she was clearly uncomfortable. But I still liked that the author added it, as it does make it authentic.
It was fabulous to see the Japan of 1878, see the people and how they live, what they eat, and what kind of rituals they have, how it looks. It is quite different from the Japan we know now and I am curious to see what more we will see of this old Japan. I definitely hope that Isabella is able to meet the people she wants to meet. Plus, I want to see what kind of foods she will try out, as she is discovering all sorts and liking some and not liking others.
The art is just gorgeous. It reminds me of Emma or Otoyomegatari, there is plenty of details, but there was one thing I didn’t particularly like and that was the sillier parts of the story. For instance Isabella’s facial expressions were at times just a bit too silly for me and didn’t fit the story.
All in all, I will definitely continue this manga. And I would recommend it to everyone.