Lui’s been stabbed! Fortunately, he soon regains consciousness. But while he safely returns to the land of the living, his memories of Sanagi do not.
Yes, it’s the good ol’ soap opera classic: amnesia.
Loosing blood doesn’t normally come with losing memories, and the doctor says it may be Lui’s own emotional blockade causing him to forget visiting Japan and all that happened after. Readers have known since volume 1 of With the Sheikh in His Harem Lui has some emotional baggage, and considering Adil and the queen, it doesn’t take much detective work to figure out his sadness is at least in part tied to his mother. Volume 5 inches closer to Lui’s backstory, but it doesn’t tackle it quite yet outside of confirming what’s already been hinted at or assumed — namely, Lui’s mother’s death is rumored to have been orchestrated by Adil’s mother.
With Lui’s memory gone, Adil and Aila sense opportunities for themselves to get closer to one who has captured their attention. For Aila, of course, it’s because she truly wishes to be Lui’s wife. I’m sure plenty of readers will be disappointed she doesn’t get any real comeuppance here. Even disregarding her actions in previous volumes, Aila hits Lui in his emotional weak spot. And yet for her right now, things are proceeding smoothly for her ideal happily-ever-after.
For his part, Adil probably won’t let himself admit he’s crushing on Lui, whether it’s because of his noble pride or because of Sanagi’s devotion to Lui. How much of his suggestive words are his true desire versus teasing her and/or spurring her reactions is probably unknown even to him. Due to Lui’s amnesia though, this is the volume where many fanfiction writers springboard off of to make their Sanagi x Adil pairing.
Yes, the fluff that has made up much of the manga’s charm is lacking here. While Lui isn’t immediately hateful or overly suspicious of the woman calling herself his wife, he can’t understand either his or Sanagi’s actions. This is all tide to his dark side. Sanagi does take some responsibility for not learning more about her husband’s past.
I respect her for taking such a practical view on it. In fact, throughout this volume, she comes across as a heroine to really root for. Sure, she’s not perfect; her naivete in regards to Adil gets old quick even as she’s spurred on by him. But she is a 16-year-old trying her best to navigate a tough situation, unsure of how to handle her changing relationship. Her tears are more understandable versus stories where the heroine is crying because her sandal broke and the date is ruined.
Plus, the art continues to look great, and the manga includes just enough humor to balance out instances like where Sanagi could have been easily poisoned to death or date raped.
Yeah, not really one of Sanagi’s smartest moments, but at least Sanagi continues to prove in this volume she’s not a passive, flat heroine. So even though With the Sheikh in His Harem volume 5 brings in an often-annoying plot device and lacks Lui’s overly affectionate self, I still think this manga handles a sheikh x commoner romance better than a lot of its Harlequin novel cousins do.