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Ashigaru
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2007 8:58 pm    Post subject: Samurai/Historical Manga to Look For Reply with quote
I like manga, especially historical manga. I plan to use this thread to introduce (not necessarily review or even recommend in all cases, just discuss) some of the notable history- and samurai-related manga I've come across. Feel free to chime in with your own thoughts, opinions, etc.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2007 9:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
The "Sono Toki.. Rekishi ga Ugoita" manga series is great - based on the TV show of the same name. Jam-packed with info. Sort of "historical fiction" that tries to portray the history, rather than the fiction.
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Ashigaru
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2007 9:23 pm    Post subject: The Big Ones Reply with quote
In this thread I'm mainly interested in introducing some of the less well-known series, so I figured I'd get some of the most famous (overseas, at least) samurai manga out of the way first.

(All entries are listed Title / Author / Publisher in both English and Japanese. In cases where a series has not been published in English, the translation or romanization of the title and author's name are my own.)

Lone Wolf and Cub / Plot: Kazuo Koike & Art: Goseki Kojima / Koike Shoin (and others)
子連れ狼 / 小池 一夫 (著), 小島 剛夕 (イラスト) / 小池書院

For English-speaking manga fans, this and "Rurouni Kenshin" are probably the two most well-known samurai-oriented manga around. As anybody who has seen either the comic or any one of the numerous spin-off movies, TV series, etc., can tell you, the series focuses on the adventures of Ogami Itto, the Shogun's disgraced executioner, and his infant son. His wife slain by the Yagyuu, Itto travels Japan on a quest for vengeance. The artwork is great and the plot has become a classic story in Japanese pop culture. It's a tough read in Japanese (mainly because of all the government ranks that come into play), but Dark Horse has put out an English version as well.
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Ashigaru
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2007 9:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
kitsuno wrote:
The "Sono Toki.. Rekishi ga Ugoita" manga series is great - based on the TV show of the same name. Jam-packed with info. Sort of "historical fiction" that tries to portray the history, rather than the fiction.


I've seen the series at the bookstore, but haven't yet picked up any of the volumes. Are all the volumes self-contained, is it a collection of mini series, or what?
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2007 9:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Ashigaru wrote:

I've seen the series at the bookstore, but haven't yet picked up any of the volumes. Are all the volumes self-contained, is it a collection of mini series, or what?


They are collections of five or six historical episodes with one overriding theme. I have one or two around here somewhere stacked under many dozen other larger books.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2007 9:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Make that two votes for "Sono Toki". They're great.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2007 9:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Vagabond / Takehiko Inoue / Kodansha
バガボンド / 井上雄彦 / 講談社

This continuing series is a novelization of Yoshikawa Eiji's novel "Musashi" (also the basis of the recent NHK Taiga drama), and it's superb. I'm not a member of the "cult of Musashi", but the art and storytelling in this manga are beautiful.

Inoue also wrote basketball drama "SLAM DUNK" and wheelchair basketball drama "REAL", so at first I thought it strange he'd choose to do a historical (as historical as stuff about Miyamoto Musashi gets, anyway) series. Reading the series, however, I realized that the novel was a perfect fit for Inoue. He specializes in stories about young men coming of age, and despite the notable lack of basketball, the Musashi novel is no different.

The characterization in this series is excellent, both for major characters like Takezou and Kojirou and for minor characters. Inoue deftly introduces the backstories for each major figure and makes you care for them, so it hurts a little bit when Musashi inevitably hacks them down in a dual. If you like scenes like the final battle in "Sanjuro", where two comrades (not friends, but not really enemies, either) are forced by circumstance to battle to the death, you'd like "Vagabond".

The art is exquisite. It's a little bit more realistic than the standard manga Big Eyes, Small Mouth look, but not quite as realistically proportioned as something like "Lone Wolf and Cub". Each character's personality comes across loud and clear in their expressions, and the attention to detail is admirable (everytime Takezou is wounded, even superficially, his scars *stay* with him from that point on; most manga only keep the "cool" scars from major battles). Inoue's O-tsuu is gorgeous, I could easily fall in love with a face like that.

"Vagabond" has picked up a number of major manga awards so far, and I'm sure it'll gather even more before the series is complete. It's one of the most all-around high-quality manga currently being published, and definitely worth a read, even for folks sick of Miyamoto Musashi (and I know we have quite a few of them here).

24 collected tankoubon volumes have been published to date in Japan, and North American publisher Viz is putting out an English version.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2007 10:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Mugen no Juunin (Blade of the Immortal) / Hiroaki Samura / Kodansha
無限の住人 / 沙村 広明 / 講談社

Definitely on the fantasy side of things, this is another samurai-oriented manga known to most US manga fans. The premise is interesting: an Edo-period swordsman responsible for the deaths of 100 good men is cursed with immortality until he executes 1000 wicked men. He meets a teenage girl seeking vengeance for the deaths of her family (a kenjutsu school wiped out by a rival ryuuha), and the two end up working together. The art is rendered in a sketchy style that is dynamic and appealing in the better scenes, and extremely confusing in the worst scenes (I found it hard to piece together exactly what was happening in some of the frenetic action scenes). I gave up on this series after the first four volumes, however, as despite the strong premise, the individual episodes seemed fairly weak. Each chapter they meet a new bad guy, usually with a tormented morally-ambiguous past, and then kill them. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Twenty volumes have been released in Japan so far, and an English version is being published by Dark Horse.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2007 10:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Ashigaru wrote:
Vagabond / Takehiko Inoue / Kodansha
バガボンド / 井上雄彦 / 講談社



The publisher of the English version of "Vagabond" sent me a copy - I wasn't very impressed, it was extremely short. Maybe it was only part of the Japanese version and they were trying to stretch it out to make more money. I might have gotten into it if I had continued reading it.
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Ashigaru
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2007 11:06 pm    Post subject: Comic Magazines Reply with quote
While most Japanese manga magazines (JUMP, Shonen Magazine, Champion, etc.) will have one or two historical/samurai-related series going at any one time, there are some good specialist magazines available as well.

Monthly Comic Ran / LEED Publishing
月刊コミック乱 / リード社

This magazine is the 800-pound gorilla of historical manga, and it specializes in gekiga ( 劇画 ), with a couple of humorous 4-panel comic strips thrown in per issue. If manga are like flashy chanbara series, gekiga are like ultra-realistic NHK dramas. You're not going to find super-powered ronin in Comic Ran, and the art tends towards the realistic Goseki Kojima ("Lone Wolf and Cub") side of things. Many of the manga are adapted from historical novels or even adaptions of historical chronicles themselves (Shinchou Kouki, etc.), and for the most part Ran's manga-ka take historical accuracy very seriously, with the result that some of the comics can have a "written BY historians, FOR historians" feel to it.

There are currently three main magazines in the Ran family: Monthly Comic Ran, Comic Ran Twins, and Ran Twins - Sengoku Bushou Retsuden. Ran and Ran Twins are pretty similar in content; both concentrate mainly on Edo period stories (with the occasional Sengoku or Kamakura story) and both begin with a lengthy manga by "Golgo 13" creator Saitou Takao ("Onihei Hankachou" in Ran, "Shikakenin Fujieda Baian" in Ran Twins). The third Ran magazine is entitled Comic Ran Twins - Sengoku Bushou Retsuden, and it's my favorite of the bunch. All Sengoku, all the time. Most of the manga are biographies of varying Sengoku personalities; some are self-contained, others are ongoing series. Comic Ran Twins - Sengoku Bushou Retsuden is currently published six times a year, and has just begun its third year of publication.

Another monthly jidai geki manga magazine--called JIN ( 刃 ), released by "Lone Wolf and Cub" publishers Koike Shoin--started up a couple years ago, but it's not yet as widely available as the Ran books.

LEED Publishing are one of the major publishers of historical manga, and fans of more serious and realism-oriented stuff would do well to check them out.
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Ashigaru
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2007 11:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
kitsuno wrote:
The publisher of the English version of "Vagabond" sent me a copy - I wasn't very impressed, it was extremely short. Maybe it was only part of the Japanese version and they were trying to stretch it out to make more money. I might have gotten into it if I had continued reading it.


I haven't seen the English version, but the Japanese volumes are standard-sized tankoubon. They're also a LOT cheaper than the US version. $12.95 per book?! Even factoring in express international shipping, the Japanese books are cheaper...
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Ashigaru
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2007 6:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Basilisk -Kouga Ninpou-chou- / Story: Yamada Fuutarou & Art: Segawa Masaki / Kodansha
バジリスク~甲賀忍法帖~ / 原作:山田風太郎 漫画:せがわまさき / 講談社

"Basilisk" is a manga adaptation of Yamada Fuutarou's classic 1958 novel "Kouga Ninpou-chou". The premise is that Tokugawa Ieyasu no longer has need of two ninja clans, so he orders the rival Iga and Kouga to battle to the death. Most members of each clan rejoice at the opportunity to discard the tenuous truce and gleefully slaughter each other, but complicating matters is the fact that the heir to the Kouga shares a secret romance with the heir to the Iga. The end result is basically "Romeo & Juliet" with the parts played by supernaturally powerful ninja instead of Italian nobles. If you can dig that, this series is for you.

I recommend "Basilisk" wholeheartedly. It's definitely at the over-the-top fantasy end of the spectrum ("Naruto" ninjutsu looks realistic by comparison), but the story is executed well and the art is first rate. Segawa's artwork incorporates a lot of digital manipulation, resulting in a polished, distinctive look that I enjoy immensely.

"Basilisk" was the winner of the 2004 Kodansha award for Best Manga and has been published in 5 volumes. Studio GONZO released an anime adaptation in 2005, and it looked pretty faithful from the few episodes I saw (I prefer manga to anime).

"Basilisk" is Segawa Masaki's second manga series, incidentally. He's currently working on "Y Juu M" (Y十M), which is an adaptation of another Yamada Fuutarou novel, "Yagyuu Ninpou-chou". Five volumes have been released so far, but I haven't had a chance to read them yet.

Segawa Masaki's first series was the four volume "Oni-kiri Juuzou" (鬼斬り十蔵), about an Edo-period swordsman hunting a resurrected onmyoji in an effort to revive his girlfriend and return his younger brother (currently inhabiting the girlfriend's body) to his rightful form. It's a worthwhile read, but "Basilisk" is much more polished in terms of art and storytelling, making it a better starting point in my opinion.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2007 7:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Just found the DVD:

"The year is 1614, and two warring ninja clans each support a different son of the ailing ruler as the next shogun in this anime adventure. An epic fight to the death between the groups will resolve the issue -- and annihilate one of the clans. In the center of this storm are the two heirs to the clans, Gennosuke and Oboro, who both possess deadly powers. But now, their loyalties will be severely tested, as the two have fallen deeply in love."

Next up on Netflix.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2007 7:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
kitsuno wrote:
Next up on Netflix.


Let me know what you think!
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2007 7:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Ashigaru wrote:
but complicating matters is the fact that the heir to the Kouga shares a secret romance with the heir to the Iga.


Just for clarity's sake, one is male and the other female?
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2007 7:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
ltdomer98 wrote:
Ashigaru wrote:
but complicating matters is the fact that the heir to the Kouga shares a secret romance with the heir to the Iga.


Just for clarity's sake, one is male and the other female?


Oops, substitute "heir to the Iga" with "heiress to the Iga". Embarassed
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2007 8:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
kitsuno wrote:
Just found the DVD:

"The year is 1614, and two warring ninja clans each support a different son of the ailing ruler as the next shogun in this anime adventure. An epic fight to the death between the groups will resolve the issue -- and annihilate one of the clans. In the center of this storm are the two heirs to the clans, Gennosuke and Oboro, who both possess deadly powers. But now, their loyalties will be severely tested, as the two have fallen deeply in love."

Next up on Netflix.


Avoid the movie at all cost.

Crap fest all the way... Sick
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2007 8:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Ashigaru wrote:
Oops, substitute "heir to the Iga" with "heiress to the Iga". Embarassed


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2007 8:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
センゴク Sengoku vol1~6



へうげもの Heugemono vol1~2



士道 Sidooh vol1~7



さらい屋五葉 Saraiya Goyo Vol1~2



竹光侍 Takemitsu Samurai


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Ashigaru
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2007 8:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Baian wrote:
Avoid the movie at all cost.

Crap fest all the way... Sick


But dude, Nakama Yukie! She defeats my ninjutsu EVERY TIME. Twisted Evil
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2007 10:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Ashigaru wrote:
kitsuno wrote:
The publisher of the English version of "Vagabond" sent me a copy - I wasn't very impressed, it was extremely short. Maybe it was only part of the Japanese version and they were trying to stretch it out to make more money. I might have gotten into it if I had continued reading it.


I haven't seen the English version, but the Japanese volumes are standard-sized tankoubon. They're also a LOT cheaper than the US version. $12.95 per book?! Even factoring in express international shipping, the Japanese books are cheaper...


The content of the Japanese books are identical to their translated English counterparts. There is no skimping. The length of each Vagabond book is on-par to other serialized manga stories in Japan. And, the cool thing about the English version of Vagabond is that you read it from right to left, just like the Japanese version, so the artwork can be enjoyed as it should be and right-handed samurai wield their katana in their right hands. My biggest hang-up with the English versions of LW&C and Samurai Assassin is that to make the book read from left to right, all artwork is inversed--except for key signs in Japanese.

Inoue Takehiko just recently published (late Nov '06) 2 soft-cover coffee table books of his Vagabond artwork- one in b&w, properly called "Sumi" and the other one is in color. You can get these from Amazon Japan. I bought them both and really marvelled at the artwork.

I also recently picked up the Furin Kazan manga (only available in Japanese)based on Inoue Atsushi's book. This looks like it may be a bit of language challenge for me, but as I know the story, it should be a fun learning experience in terms of improving my Japanese-reading capability.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2007 10:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Baian wrote:
kitsuno wrote:
Just found the DVD:

"The year is 1614, and two warring ninja clans each support a different son of the ailing ruler as the next shogun in this anime adventure. An epic fight to the death between the groups will resolve the issue -- and annihilate one of the clans. In the center of this storm are the two heirs to the clans, Gennosuke and Oboro, who both possess deadly powers. But now, their loyalties will be severely tested, as the two have fallen deeply in love."

Next up on Netflix.


Avoid the movie at all cost.

Crap fest all the way... Sick


While I agree with Ashigaru that Nakama Yukie is just sooooooooooooooooo awesome. I mean, really, totally sooooooooooo beautiful and awesome, here is what I thought of the movie: Puke
So, I agree with Baian. This movie is so bad that it was runner up in receiving the top "ROTTEN NATTO" for being the worst jidai geki/chambara film in my personal collection. My comments on the Ninja Dojo's forum about Shinobi are as follows, "although Nakama Yukie is sooooo dreaaaammmmyyy, I felt that I wanted to slash my wrists with a poisoned shuriken while watching this CG-laden piece of offal." To learn more about my "Rotten Natto nominations for bad chambara flicks and to see my award winner, go to the following link: http://p214.ezboard.com/ftheninjadojo89233frm3.showMessage?topicID=1301.topic
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2007 10:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Shigurui / Story: Nanjo Norio & Manga: Yamaguchi Takayuki / Akita Shoten
シグルイ / 原作:南条範夫 漫画:山口貴由 / 秋田書店

"Shigurui" is ostensibly based on the first chapter of Nanjo Norio's novel "Suruga-jou Gozen Jiai", but it's been so expanded and re-written that most folks tend to agree that the manga has become something else entirely.

The series starts in the 6th year of Kan'ei. Tired of the Suruga martial arts tournaments and eager to see some blood, Dainagon Tokugawa Tadanaka orders his men to host a sword dual to the death for his enjoyment. The lucky contestants turn out to be one-armed Fujiki Gennosuke and his blind opponent Irako Seigen.

Just as the match is about to get underway, the story rewinds several years to show just who these characters are and how they got their grievous wounds. We learn that Gennosuke was one of the major figures in the Kogan-ryuu school of fencing and that Seigen attempted to defeat the Kogan-ryuu students before eventually joining the school as a pupil himself. Talented Seigen becomes a favored student of Kogan himself (a genius swordsman, but dangerously senile), even surpassing loyal Gennosuke in terms of respect and status. Without giving away too much, Seigen and Kogan have a brutal falling out and Seigen is expelled from the dojo. Seigen and Kogan become mortal enemies, and each have fairly understandable reasons for wanting to see the other dead.

The story is compelling, with intriguing characters and dramatic events, but it's the art that really stands out with this series. This series is graphic, with stomach-churning anatomic detail. It's bloodier than "Koroshiya Ichi" (the basis of Miike's infamous "Ichi the Killer" movie). Unlike "Koroshiya Ichi" the gore isn't really gratuitous per se, and it's not "all blood, all the time"; "Shigurui" just doesn't pull any punches when it comes to showing what happens when motivated killers swing extremely sharp blades into soft, pink human bodies. It's not for all readers, though, and the first few pages of volume 1 will allow you to determine whether or not its for you.

Seven volumes have been released to date, and the manga is ongoing.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2007 11:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Obenjo Kusanosuke wrote:

The content of the Japanese books are identical to their translated English counterparts.


The one I got was a comic book of 18 pages or so, not a "traditional Manga". maybe they rereleased it...?
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2007 11:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Obenjo Kusanosuke wrote:

So, I agree with Baian. This movie is so bad that it was runner up in receiving the top "ROTTEN NATTO" for being the worst jidai geki/chambara film in my personal collection.


I'll take your guys' comments under advisement, but I don't know if I'll be able to resist the lure of Nakama Yukie. She's got me interested in the "Oh-Oku" movie despite only having sat through a handful of episodes of the series.
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