Sora wa Akai Kawa no Hotori article published in Animerica Extra Vol. 5, No. 6, May 2002
This article was written by and is copyrighted to Patricia Duffield and may not be reproduced in part or whole without permission.
Sora wa Akai Kawa no Hotori (Red River) has been a top-selling manga for years, yet it has never been animated. Perhaps it's too daring. The leading man is certainly promiscuous enough, and initially, the heroine has trouble keeping her clothes on. This exciting story about a Japanese girl pulled into the Hittite Empire is filled with so much suspense, action, and romance, it's no wonder the series is popular.
Yûri Suzuki just got her first kiss from Himuro, a guy she's known for years. She's so excited, she can hardly wait to tell her sisters. When they're called to supper, there's a banquet's worth of food to celebrate Yûri passing her high school entrance exams. Life could hardly be better, but something strange happens when Yûri goes to the kitchen to fetch her dad's whiskey and water. Out of the corner of her eye, Yûri sees the water bubble and twist, writhing up out of the glass. When she looks again, it seems normal.
The next day, hands reach from an aquarium at school, trying to drag Yûri into the water. That night, her bathwater nearly takes her under! Everyone thinks it's post-test stress, but Yûri begins avoiding water.
On the way home from a movie, Himuro tries to get her to tell him what's wrong, saying he'll look out for her. Then he surprises her with a hug. Combined with the fun of enjoying herself and not having any recent weird incidents, Yûri's so happy she doesn't pay attention to where she's walking. Stepping in a puddle, serpentine hands reach out and drag her in. Struggling, Yûri manages to break free and emerges in a city well surrounded by women in strange garb speaking a strange language. Dazed, she runs through the city. Narration informs us it's Hattusa, capital of the ancient Hittite* empire. Yûri imagines it's a dream, but she doesn't wake up. Guards appear, and she instinctively flees. She runs into a beautiful young man who grabs her, pins her to the ground beneath a blanket and kisses her painfully. When guards arrive, the man tells them he's seen no strange girl, for when he's with a lady, he notices little else. The guards recognize him as Prince Kairu and leave. The oddest part is that Yûri can now understand them! Kairu wonders why the Queen's guards are after her, then offers to continue with their distraction. At this, Yûri bolts again and is quickly caught by the guards.
In a dungeon, the Queen who brought Yûri here reveals her evil plot. Her son is the sixth prince. To be king, the other princes must die. To kill them, she needs a blood sacrifice. Later, under the guise of returning Yûri to the gods, the Queen's public sacrifice is interrupted by Kairu. He who explains if only virgins are fit for the gods, then this sacrifice is unfit. He offers his father a sacrifice of 100 virgin cows and goats in apology for his faux pas. The King accepts, foiling the Queen for now...
Perhaps it's the length which deters animation companies from picking it up. At twenty seven volumes, Red River is a big commitment. But fans are hopeful the six CD radio dramas are precursors for an animated series. Regardless of whether this series is ever animated, seasoned shojo artist Chie Shinohara exploits the romantic and dramatic potential of her plot to its fullest, resulting in an action-packed series well deserving of its popularity.
* The Hittite Empire existed from about 1700B.C. to 1200B.C. in Asia Minor, covering roughly the area of the modern-day Turkey.