Anatolia Story (Sora wa Akai Kawa no Hotori, Red River)
"Anatolia Story" is what fans call the popular shoujo manga, Sora wa Akai Kawa no Hotori (Heaven is by the Red River*). The English title is Red River.
The manga was created by Chie Shinohara in 1995 and ran till 2002. Anatolia Story spans 28 volumes covering roughly three years. In 2001 the series won the Shogakukan Manga Award for shoujo. In 2005 Viz got the rights to release it in North America under title Red River. In Early 2018 there will be a new chapter of the Manga.
*translation note - the Kanji used for "Sora" in the official title is written with the kanji for Heaven. Sora actually means Sky. So Sky and Heaven can both be used when translating the title.
This page uses the titles interchangeable.
The plot of Anatolia Story is about a 15 year old Japanese school girl, Yuri Suzuki who is magically transported to Ancient Anatolia during the Hittite Empire. She is summoned by Queen Nakia who wants to use her as sacrifice so that she can curse the princes standing in the way of her son's succession to the throne. Before Nakia can get Yuri, Yuri escapes and runs into one the Princes (unbeknownst to her at the time). Before Yuri can be sacrificed, the prince named Kail rescues her again. As the story progress, Yuri not only repeatedly manages to escape Nakia's scheming, she also becomes revered as an incarnation of the goddess, Ishtar and falls in love with Prince Kail.
Yuri Ishtar (Suzuki) - The main character, Yuri begins the manga as 15 year old Japanese school girl. She is pulled across space and time via a puddle by Queen Nakia. Yuri is tom-boyish, confident, charitable, intelligent, modest and slightly reckless. Yuri doesn't wants to be a burden to Kail so she learns sword fighting, archery, and battle tactics. She mostly wants to be useful to Kail and not sit around waiting to be rescued. Though she is worshipped as Ishtar, she doesn't let it get to her head, she remains kind and modest throughout the manga. Yuri spends a lot of the time battling between her love for Kail and whether or not she should return to Japan.
Yuri's name is written out two ways, three if you account the very beginning. In Japanese it's written Yuuri in katakana but the english release dropped the long u sound and wrote as Yuri.
In the opening chapters, Yuuri is written in kanji with the characters Yuu meaning evening and Ri meaning pear.
Kail Mursili II
Kail Mursili II - The third Prince son of King Suppiluliuma and the 2nd Queen, Hinti. In Volume 12 he is crowned King. He starts off as a bit of a womanizer and keeps Yuri as a concubine as cover in order to protect her. Kail originally claimed Yuri was sent by Ishtar but it soon turned into that Yuri was in fact Ishtar. Kail is loyal to those he loves and want to love only the women he marries as he don't want another Nakia. He is at odd with returning Yuri to Japan, while he promised to do so he doesn't want to. Kail also magic over wind and uses it mainly to protect Yuri from Nakia.
Queen Nakia - The main antagonist. Nakia at the beginning of the manga is the current Queen or Tawananna and the third Wife of Suppiluliuma. Nakia wants to see her son, Juda, to ascend the Hittite throne. She is the one who pulled Yuri across time and space as the ideal sacrifice.
Nakia employs several methods to get Yuri and/or Kail out of the way and she is always keeping the other main characters on their toes. Nakia uses water magic but she mainly uses it as poisons, Black water, White Water, Rose water and Blue Water. Black water is a form of mind control, white water simulates death, Rose water induces lust and Blue water is a lethal poison.
Nakia is clever, ruthless and ambitious to the end.
Urhi Shalma- Urhi is Nakia's main henchman. He is the one who acts out Nakia's orders. He takes a priest disguise to get close to people and get them to trust him. Urhi is very loyal to Nakia as the two had a romantic interest though nothing ever occurred between the two due Urhi's tragic past.
Ramses - A military officer from a noble family in Egypt. Ramses has heterochromatic eyes (the left one is sepia, the right one is golden) and blonde hair. Ramses is very ambitious and wants to rule Egypt. He has his sights on finding a women who can rule with and "thinks like a King". he believes yuri is the perfect women for this end and he develops feeling for her. On a few occasions he tries to kidnap her. At the end of volume 19 he brings Yuri to Egypt, as she is ill and Ramses helped saved her life. Soon afterward he is arrested and Yuri saves him before returning to Anatolia. After the war between Anatolia and Hittite and peace is declared and Ramses returns to Egypt and eventually becaomes the Pharaoh.
Prince Mattiwaza- The Crowned of The Mitanni Kingdom also called the "Prince of Darkness" for his ruthless demeanor and behavior at war. He launches a campaign against the Hittites and kidnaps Yuri and makes her his concubine in an attempt to demoralize the Hittites. This strategy fails, as the Mitanni people rally around Yuri when she tends to the injured and sick in the capital, and even Mattiwaza himself is eventually won over by Yuri's charm. After a coup d'etat he releases Yuri and flees. In volume 23 he returns and is pardon by Kail and becomes an ally of the Hittites
Il Bani - Prince Kail's strategic adviser, foster brother, palace steward, and childhood friend. Though very serious and formal, Il Bani has a dry wit. On one occasion he manipulated Urhi for his grander scheme. He is very loyal to Kail and Yuri because he is loyal to the Hittite Empire as a whole.
Kikuri - Prince Kail's servant, who goes everywhere with him. Though quite cautious and timid by nature, he is not above conspiring with Yuri's handmaids and working behind Kail's back in order to encourage him to "settle down" with Yuri.
In a bonus chapter at the end of the manga, he writes a horse care manual that is discovered in modern day times.
Hadi - One of Yuri's handmaiden and the eldest daughter of chief of Alinna and the Hatti people. She is intelligent and a very skilled fighter. Hadi tries to get Yuri to be more traditionally feminine but these efforts have mixed results. She and sister were once manipulated by Urhi into trying to kill Yuri. After Yuri pardoned them, they became her handmaidens and very loyal to her.
Ryui & Shala
Ryui & Shala - Twins sisters, they are the younger sisters of Hadi. They are both loyal and capable fighters in their own right and very loyal to Yuri. Both develop a romantic interest in Kikuri because the have similar tastes.
Tito - Tito is the brother of Hadi, Ryui and Shala. He served as Kail's servant and was the first victim of Nakia's Black water. Under the Black water Tito tried to kill Yuri and was sentenced to death as Yuri was part of Kail's household. Yuri appealed to Kail sense of justice and Tito was sent free. But in attempt to get Yuri's modern clothing from Nakia (her cloth are a key to her returning home) Tito is killed by one of Nakia's henchmen. Yuri avenges Tito's death in volume 3.
Zannanza Hattusili - The fourth prince and is Kail's closest brother. His mother was a palace maid but she died early in Zannanza's life. Zannanza was adopted by Kail's mother Queen Hinti. He is very skilled with swords and military tactics, and is the mayor of the Hittite city of Kadesh. He falls in love with Yuri and Nakia exploits it with the Rose water. Zannanza is selected to go to Egypt to wed the newly widowed Queen but he is killed before he get there.
Juda Haspasrupi - Juda is the sixth Princes and the only child of Nakia. His father is King Suppiluliuma. Despite his mother evil schemes, Juda is kind and loves all his siblings and has no desire to be King, he would rather help Kail. Juda often falls victim to Nakia"s schemes.
Rusafa -The leader of the Hittite archers, he is very loyal to Yuri and Kail. His personality is free-spirited and easy going. He on one occasion was caught in Nakia's scheme and kidnapped Yuri. Though he is in love with Yuri he also very loyal to Yuri and Kail and would never act on his desires.
Mittannamwa- The leader of the Hittite infantry, he does not play much of a role in palace politics, as he is considerably older and spends most of his time out in the field.
Kash -The leader of the Hittite chariots, and a guard of Prince Kail. He falls in love with Ursula not long after she comes to live in the palace. Following her execution, he wears a braided band made from her hair around his head.
Ursula - Ursula was hired by Nakia to posed as Ishtar. She did it so she could gain wealth. After she is found out she is taken in as one Yuri's handmaiden, Ursala and Kash fell in love and become in engaged. But when Yuri is implicated for the murder of the king, Ursula sacrifices herself so that Yuri can be exonerated and Ursula is hanged. Before she is hanged she gives Kash her and he wears it has a headband till the day Urhi is revealed as the real assassin and the Urasula is exonerated.
Princess Alexandra - The first princess of Arzawa (a country to the west of the Hittites on the shores of the Aegean Sea). She was sent by her mother to be Yuri's concubine, they hadn't realized Yuri was a woman. Alexandra adores Yuri and one point she was brought in as a possible marriage candidate for Kail but Alexandra develops romantic feelings for Juda.
Princess Nefert is one of Ramses' many sisters but she is the smartest and shrewdest. She free-spirited, easy going, and fun loving. When Ramses takes Yuri to Egypt, Nefert and Yuri become good friends. She falls in love with Rusafa because she likes strong men. She also appears at the end.
Aslan - Yuri's horse. Aslan is wild and intelligent and only really tolerates Yuri. Aslan means lion in Turkish which harkens back to the mythology of Ishtar who rides a lion.
It's time for a Poll
Musical by Takarazuka Revue
There is be a musical adaptation by the legendary Takarazuka Musical revue. It will run from March 16 through April 23 and May 11 through June 17 in Tokyo. Madoka Hoshikaze as Yuri, Suzuho Makaze as Prince Kail, and Toa Serika as Ramses.
Also there will be a New Chapter of the Manga in the first 2018 issue of Shogakukan's Sho-Comi magazine.
While Anatolia Story is a work of fiction by Chie Shinohara, some events/characters are based on real historical events/people.
- Yuri seems to be roughly based off of Puduhepa, the priestess of Ishtar who married King Hattusili III. She has been referred to as "one of the most influential women known from the Ancient Near East." She played an important role in diplomacy with Egypt and was a co-signatory in the Ulmi-Teshub treaty.
- Kail's historical namesake is Mursili II. Mursili II reigned between 1321-1295 BC. Through Mursili is his namesake, historical events in accordance with the manga are closer to Hattusili III. Hattusili III is the one who went to war with Egypt and established the Treaty of Kadesh, the first written peace treaty.
-Queen Nakia was based on Mal-Nikal, a Babylonian princess who married Suppiluliuma I and caused the historic Mursili II trouble as the Tawananna.
- Prince Mattiwaza is loosely based on the historical Shattiwaza of Mitanni, who was actually the brother of Tushratta and uncle of Tadukhipa (Nefertiti).
- Though not mentioned in the character section Nefertiti makes an appearance in volume 20-22, and is depicted as "The Nakia of Egypt".
- King Suppiluliuma (Kail's father) is based Suppiluliuma I who ruled the Hittite 1344-1322 BC. He is called the King of King and was instrumental in make the Hittites into the dominate power in the Anatolian region.
- Sari Arnuwanda (Kail's oldest brother) is based on Arnuwanda II who was a king of the Hittite Empire (new kingdom) ca. 1322-1321 BC.
- Zannanza Hattusili is based off a son of Suppiluliuma I who almost became an Egyptian Pharaoh. His death caused a diplomatic incident between the Hittite Empire and Egypt, that resulted in warfare. The Zannanza Affair, as historian call it, started with Queen Ankhesenpaaten writing to Suppiluliuma asking him to marry one off his sons. Suppiluliuma was suspicious but Ankhesenpaaten wrote again saying that she wouldn't marry an Egyptian because she didn't want to marry someone who could have murdered her first husband.
- Ramses is based off of Ramses I the founder of the 19th dynasty of Egypt.
Continuing the Story
In 2008 Chie Shinohara started Sora wa Akai Kawa no Hotori Gaiden Zoku: Tales from the world of Anatolia Story.
So far three volumes have been released; Ma no Toki ga Reimei, Zoku Ma no Toki ga Reimei Tsuitachi and Ma Tsuki. These are light novels.
About Chie Shinohara
Chie Shinohara is an award winning mangaka. She most well known for Sora wa Akai Kawa no Hotori a.k.a Red River a.k.a Anatolia story. She made her debut in 1984 with Yami no Purple Eyes, which was also made into an 11 episode TV series in Japan. Umi no Yami, Tsuki no Kage was made in a three episode OAV in 1989. Her 2004 manga Mizu ni Sumu Hana was made into a live action movie Her most recent manga came out in 2010 and is called Yume no Shizuku, Ougon no Torikago and it is still ongoing. If you love Red River, I highly recommend it.
Most of Shinohara works have a dark shoujo edge to them, with either elements of horror or the supernatural.
As on now Sora wa Akai no Hotori is licensed in English.
Amy on May 22, 2017:
Do you know if any English translations were ever made for the novels? Are they worth reading?