Red River: why Yuri is badass

Red River: why Yuri is badass

I’ve recently been reading Red River, an award-winning 28-volume shojo series known as Anatolia Story in Japan. The manga is about a girl named Yuri Suzuki, who after receiving her first kiss gets trapped in another world, which turns out to be Anatolia during the year 1500 B.C. She was summoned by Queen Nakia in order to serve as a sacrifice so Nakia would be able to kill the eldest princes, allowing her only son to become the next emperor. However, Yuri is saved by the third prince of the Hittites, Kail Mursili, and it doesn’t take long for them to fall for each other. Yuri moves into the palace as Kail’s ‘concubine,’ and she is eventually revered as the reincarnation of the goddess Ishtar. Prior to reading the manga, I had already heard that Yuri is a strong heroine, so I came into the series with high expectations. At first, Yuri bothered me a bit because she cried a lot, but as the series progressed, I came to appreciate not only how kind Yuri is but how strong she becomes. Eventually, Yuri completely won me over and I consider her to be one of the best shojo leads out there. I’m now 17 volumes into the series, so I decided to showcase some of Yuri’s greatest moments (and please be aware that there are definitely spoilers):

  • In volume three, Yuri gets revenge for Tito, a young boy who helped her when she first arrived in Anatolia and was killed. She stabs Tito’s assassin and is recogonized as the goddess Ishtar.  When Mitanni troops try to invade their borders, Kail must go fight. Since Yuri must still worry about Queen Nakia, who is after her life, so she decides to learn how to use a sword, bow and how to ride a horse so Kail won’t have to worry about her. Take notes, Miaka, take notes.
  • In volume five, Yuri is captured by Mattazawa, the prince of another nation, and is forced to live with prisoners. Mattazawa decides to grant Yuri one wish if she can defeat a lion, which is a symbol for Ishtar. After being thrown into a pit with the lion, Yuri escapes thanks to her horse. Instead of wishing for her freedom, Yuri asks the prince to improve his prisoner’s living conditions. Yuri not only shows how kind she is for thinking of others instead of herself, but also how intelligent she is: because Mattazawa had planned to send men to kill her if she had requested to return home.
  • In volumes seven and eight, the king of Egypt dies and the Egyptians ask for one the Hittite princes to marry their current queen. After Zannanza, Kail’s younger brother, wins a chariot race he and a group of Hiitite soldiers, along with Yuri, travel to Egypt so he can take his position. However, Queen Nakia sends spies to travel with Zannanza in order to kill him and Yuri and then blame it on the Egyptians in order to start a war. The spies succeed in killing Zannanza, but although Yuri gets shot in the back with an arrow she escapes alive. She threatens an Egyptian soldier named Ramses to take her back to Hattusa, where Kail is. Right as the Hiitites are accusing Egyptian officials of murdering their prince Yuri arrives on a horse after travelling for two days with the arrow still in her back. She refused Ramses’ offer to remove the arrow because it was made by the Hittites and looks different from an Egyptian arrow, which proved that it was a Hittite soldier who attacked them, and thus Yuri prevents war between the two nations.
  • In volume 12, Yuri starts giving her aides the cold shoulder when new servants begin working at the palace. One of the male servants tries to get Yuri drunk so he can squeeze information from her about the royal family, but she attacks him and pins him down instead. When her aides rush to help her, Yuri commands them to arrest the other new hired servants, who Yuri figured out were all spies because of their western accents.
  • In volume 16, Kail tells the royal court that he wants to marry Yuri, which would normally be out of the question because she is not royalty. However, Queen Nakia, who is still after Yuri’s life, comes up with the idea that since Kail’s army is missing a commander, if Yuri can successfully lead the entire Hittite army she can become his wife. Yuri decides to accept the position – not because she wants to marry Kail, but because she wants the best future possible for the Hittites. Thus, Yuri becomes the only female commander in the entire history of the Hittite empire. 
  • There are many other great ways Yuri shows both how smart and tough she can be. For example, when Kail is keeping a secret from Yuri that there is a fake Ishtar in town, she threatens to kiss one of Kail’s subordinates to get the information (which works because the subordinate is afraid of Kail’s jealousy). When Yuri ends up in a sickhouse, she decides to improve its living conditions, and even though almost everyone who gets infected with the disease dies, Yuri is not afraid to touch the sickly. But one of my favorite moments has to be in volume six, after Yuri tries to escape from Mattazawa’s imprisonment but fails. When she gives up trying to escape, her aides think she’s going to wait for Prince Kail to rescue her, like a normal girl should. But Yuri tells them that she intends to find use her position to find out about her enemy, to which her aides respond (with tears in their eyes) “Can’t you just wait for your man quietly?” No, she can’t – and that’s why Yuri is awesome. 

Yuri is commonly described as ‘little’ throughout the story because she’s much thinner and shorter than the average Hittite woman. But what Yuri lacks in size, she more than makes up for in strength, courage, and above all, heart.


24 thoughts on “Red River: why Yuri is badass

  1. Oooh~~~ you know I read this manga in 3 damn days non-stop! It’s my all time favorite without many thoughts. Yuri is a goddess indeed and oh woman, how many times I cried throughout the manga for deaths and other tragedies…Kail changes, too, and becomes such a fitting companion for Yuri. He doesn’t simply have the looks. He has strength and youthful wisdom, and his love becoming his weakness makes my tsundere-lover self to melt; plus he becomes such a sweet, ‘silly’ daddy. There were moments in the beginning that he was quite the jerk (that regrets, that’s important). The character growth for both protagonists is amazing. And they grow together- isn’t this the most beautiful thing in the world?

    1. Oh you’re so right – Red River is a really addictive series; I read the first 17 volumes in a span of four days and I could barely put one book down fast enough to get to the next one. The fact that when I had to wait two days to read the next few volumes it felt like an eternity proves what a great series Red River is. I really like Yuri and Kail together, and one of my favorite characters was Zannanza, who, for the short time he was in the series, also showed great character development and was often even nicer than Kail.

      1. Ooh sounds good, I love an addictive series! Yuri sounds like a great shojo heroine and I will definitely give Red River a go. Thanks for the recommendation ^_^

  2. Red River has to be one of the many manga series I always wanted to read. I was attracted to the art and the story. It kind of reminds me of Fushigi Yugi with the girl from another world being sent to a different time period all together. I think it’s great that Yuri is the strong female character who doesn’t sit around and wait for something to happen, but makes it happen. I can’t wait to read this series!

    1. It was the same for me – I had always heard good things about Red River so I decided to finally start reading it. Even though Red River has a similar premise to Fushigi Yugi, especially the focus on whether Kail and Yuri will be separated, which resembles the main drama concerning Miaka and Tamahome in FY, in many ways they have very different feels, especially since Red River is often more politically- and action-oriented. And even though I love Fushigi Yugi, Yuri is a far better heroine than Miaka is, so I highly recommend it.

  3. Glad to hear it’s as good as everyone is saying. I wish Viz would make 3-in-1 editions of Red River because it’s so long and that’s mainly why I’ve been putting off picking it up.

    1. Yes, and not only is it long but there are a few volumes that are out-of-print, which means tracking the series down might be a pain. It’s sad that many of the best shojo series in Viz’s catalogue are out-of-print.

      1. Yeah, it is a real shame. As much as I like Fushigi Yugi, I can’t help but feel that it’s a little unfair that it is always being printed whereas other series get 1 (or 2 if they are lucky) print runs and then that’s that. 😦 It would be fine if used copies weren’t always so hard/expensive to acquire.

      2. Oh by the way, I ordered a copy of Skip Beat 3-in-1. Can’t wait to get my hands on the physical copy. I want to thank you for getting me interested in the manga. I probably would have not tried it so soon if not for you (which might have meant I would have missed out on another great series if it went OOP before I tried it again). 😀

  4. I may need to give thise series another shot, I found the first volume very underwhelming especially Yuri’s actions and things that happen to her. The lead guy was way too forceful for my comfort.

    I’m sure this series is becoming harder to come by. I don’t think it was a partically great seller for VIZ and it is quite long. Speaking of, if you haven’t picked up Legend of Basara I’d highly recommend it.


    1. There’s definitely quite a bit of forcefulness on Kail’s part, not to mention attempted rape from other characters, so if you are offended by such themes Red River may not be the best series for you. That being said, because of the historical context Red River takes place in those things didn’t bother me as much as they normally would. And I didn’t find the first volume to be amazing either – it took me about four volumes until I was truly absorbed in the series.

      And I really want to get into Basara – hopefully I’m able to do so sooner than later!

      1. I will give it another shot!

        I know some volumes of Basara are already out of print. But I’ve been able to find many in bargin bins and the like.


    2. *high five* Great to see another fan of Basara around. Makes me really happy to see others love it as much as I do. I’m still sulking that it’s not as popular as it should be. I really want to see 7SEEDS in English, but given what happened to Basara and Chicago, this is a pipe dream now. 😦

      Any other manga you really liked? I’m always interested in seeing what other fans are reading. :3

      1. Some other good fantasy shojo I really enjoyed have been Key to the Kingdom and Two Flowers for the Dragon. Sadly with CMX gone, I won’t get the end of Two Flowers in English 😦 Luckily, they did finish Key though.


    3. Key of the Kingdom sounds like something I would enjoy a lot. Two Flowers of the Dragon sounds interesting as well. I will definitely be checking these two out. Thank you 🙂

      1. I’ve heard good things about From Far Away as well, although it seems to be closer to Fushigi Yugi. Two Flowers for the Dragon sounds really interesting – I love the concept of the main female character having a tattoo that grows as her affections for her fiance grows. But unfortunately CMX never released the last volume before they shut down, so it’s American release is incomplete.

  5. I totally agree with everything that you’ve said. I love Red River, even as a guy, simply because it has some of the best plot and plot development I have ever read. To be honest, I almost cried when I ever so eagerly searched for a Red River anime, positive that such an awesome series would have one! ALAS! It does not! Literally almost cried…
    Also, yes, Yuri is a badass. Good with a sword, invented riding into battle with a horse, and is the best military commander the Hittites ever had. True facts.

    1. Thanks for commenting! Red River is one of the series I so wish had an anime series (along with Dengeki Daisy). It’s an older series, and 28 volumes to boot, so I can’t imagine it happening (but I can dream, though). 🙂 And even though it’s now been awhile since I last read the series, Yuri still stands out to me as one of the most memorable female characters in shojo manga.

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