By Shigeru Takao. Released in Japan by Hakusensha, serialized in the magazine Hana to Yume. Released in North America by CMX.
By now, we're more than halfway through this series, and it's mostly abandoned all pretense that it's a light-hearted comedy. Not that it isn't still very good, but I think there's only one joke in this entire volume, when Harumi thinks that Shinobu and Saizo are sleeping together. And Shinobu has totally thrown off the mask of 'evil bitch' that she wore for the first couple of volumes.
But these aren't missed, as we're too busy coping with all the revelations we get here, and dealing with the emotional drama. The revelation that Shinobu made at the end of the last volume is expanded on, and helps to underscore that Shinobu has had a really crappy childhood. The scene where she gets the tattoo is portrayed about the same way that you would see a rape drawn in comics, which given that she's about six years old is terrifying.
The flashbacks keep coming, but at least this one's a little more lighthearted, as we see how Shinobu's mother Shoko first met her guardian Shogo (romanization makes things confusing), and the revelation about her true parentage. This too makes sense when you put it in context, and if nothing else helps to make all those earlier scenes of Shinobu in Shogo's bed slightly less creepy. But only slightly. The resolution of their story is obviously not going to go well (the danger of all flashbacks), but at least it's refreshing to see Shinobu's mother portrayed as something other than the cold and uncaring mistress that she has been to this point.
We're meant, of course, to see Shinobu and Saizo paralleled in her mother and Shogo, though things are at least slightly better this generation round. Shinobu's not as cloistered as her mother was, and she and Saizo are supposedly developing a closer relationship. I say supposedly as the two of them, especially Saizo, both have episodes of self-hatred that prevent them from ever truly committing to the other, so it's very much a case of "I will be with you forever, which will likely be until we are torn apart in a few months". Of course, I doubt this manga is going to end that badly, so look forward to seeing how it gets its happy ending.
Or I would look forward to it, if it weren't a CMX title. Sigh. Volumes 8-11 remain untranslated, and there's very little chance of a license rescue here. Which is a real wrench here as, unlike Stolen Hearts 2, this ends on a nasty cliffhanger where Shinobu's mother collapses at a hospital, coughing up blood. Since she and Shinobu have been edging, millimeter by millimeter, towards an understanding, this is rather vexing. Still, if you like dramatic ninja romance, I do recommend getting the 7th (and final?) Teru Teru x Shonen.