Bride of the Barrier Master Volume 1: Fascinating Look at What Happens After “Ever After”

Bride of the Barrier Master cover art of Saku holding Hana.

Bride of the Barrier Master Volume 1 puts a distinctive spin on a familiar tale. In this world, Japan is kept safe by five clans protecting one of the five pillars via magic. Eighteen-year-old Hana is part of one clan but an outcast because she lacks practitioner capability. When her powers awaken, she keeps them secret, determined to live a comfortable lifestyle away from magic after she finishes school. 

Saku Ichinomiya, the new head of the clan, searches for a bride. Hana tries to keep her head down and avoid trouble, including a marriage proposal. Written by Kureha with translation by Linda Liu and cover art by Bodax, this Yen Press light novel builds a magical world of mystery and hilarity. 

Hana’s Neglectful Life in Bride of the Barrier Master Volume 1

By the time Hana reaches adulthood, she labels her personality as warped. Point of fact, Chapter 1 drags because Hana repeats this often. But it’s understandable, given her upbringing in the Ichise household. As a branch family of the Ichinomiya clan, magical ability to be a top-level practitioner is a priority. Their family hasn’t produced one in a while. So they’ve fallen down the rung, getting further away from the lauded position beside the head family. Her parents, obsessed with regaining that position, prioritize her magically-skilled twin, Hazuki, disregarding all else. After that, Hana became useless to her parents.

Hana’s parents ignore or ridicule her, especially after the shikigami test. Hazuki summoned a little boy—human shikigami are top-tier—while Hana’s shikigami is a butterfly—thought of as the lowest form. Hana gets more attention and care from the servants, one of which, Sae, gives her advice. Stop caring about and seeking approval from her parents. Bride of the Barrier Master Volume 1 sets up a Cinderella story but with an outspoken woman who learns to play it cool

Ever After Story With The After and Magic

Hana’s powers rush in during her and Hazuki’s fifteenth birthday celebration—meaning a party for Hazuki while Hana sits there. No one, except her sister, notices she seems off as Hana retires to her room early. Sure, Hana could broadcast her powers to her parents and change the dynamic. After everything, there’s no way. Hana suppresses her abilities, so no one notices. She feeds more power to her butterfly shikigami, Azuha, and summons two more human shikigami; a man named Aoi and a woman named Miyabi. She makes sure they remain hidden. After school, Hana plans to live an everyday life away from her family with her shikigami. 

Bride of the Barrier Master Volume 1 cover art of Saku holding Hana.
Bride of the Barrier Master cover art

Events spiral out of control, and before Hana realizes it, a new young head of the clan, Saku, is eyeing her to wife up. Hana’s likable since you can’t help but pity her circumstances. Though the focus is on magical ability, parents apply the same pressure and disregard when their offspring does not align with their ideals and goals. But it’s not sympathy alone. Hana’s bluntness when dealing with Saku and her multiple escapes is hilarious. It’s easy to picture this series as an anime. They bring out the best in each other. 

Mystery and Battles

Saku must marry. The barrier weakens when there’s a changing of the guard. So, as the new head of the clan, he needs a partner to help strengthen the barrier. Reason being there are creatures known as Shades. Though scant information is in the first volume, it seems like without these barriers; Shades would overrun Japan. But as the barrier’s currently weak, Shade attacks have increased. Saku needs a strong partner, and Hana is that. 

There’s the danger of Shades, but Bride of the Barrier Master Volume 1 includes a mystery. As all of Hana’s drama occurs, a spate of unsolved dog slayings occurs across Japan. This leads to murders that Hana and Saku investigate. Of course, Hana doesn’t do it for free. Knowing your value is an admirable quality. The mystery made me think of the horror film Don’t Look Now and investigative pairs like Madelyn and David of Moonlighting or Mulder and Scully from The X-Files. 

Is Hana’s Power Over 9000?

To say Hana is powerful is an understatement. So much about her power and abilities is unknown. It’s unheard of for someone to come into their power so late. Every character only has one shikigami, but Hana’s got three, and two are human. Anticipating her future potential makes the series all the more fascinating. With the relationship between Saku and Hana and their shikigami, Bride of the Barrier Master Volume 1 crafts drama and comedic antics for future volumes. It does not start as a page-turner but ends engrossing. 

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