In honor of the fact that NASA tried to blow up the moon this morning and the fact that Kodansha staged its own Groundhog Day this week, I was going to pick Naoko Takeuchi’s Sailor Moon for today’s license request. I’ve reconsidered because it seems like such a foregone conclusion that Kodansha will reprint it at some point.
But there is a lunar connection to today’s targeted title. Makoto Yukimura is the creator of Planetes, published in English by Tokyopop though effectively out of print as it was among the titles Kodansha retrieved from the publisher. I hope it doesn’t stay out of print long, as it’s still one of the best comics from Japan I’ve ever read. It’s an introspective, character-driven science-fiction story about space exploration, focusing on a group of orbital garbage haulers to take dangerous debris out of the spaceways. If you haven’t read it and can find copies, I strongly urge you to do so.
Now, Yukimura has also done evidently exemplary work in a category that I’ve somewhat neglected: action seinen. It’s called Vinland Saga, a look at Viking conquest in the early 1000s. It combines actual history with some fictionalized additions, examining the Viking invasion of England and the early years of King Canute the Great.
Let’s turn back the calendar and see what Ed Chavez had to say about the first volume:
“One of the first things you notice when reading Vinland Saga is that it’s violent. Limbs, heads, and the like fly, arrows pierce men through their skulls, eyeballs are skewered like shish kebab, chains rip the hair and flesh from a man’s head. The action is plentiful, and its frenetic pace aids the feeling of barbaric combat that makes up much of the first volume. Having nothing like this to previously judge him by, Yukimura has shown that he is adept at scripting and executing action sequences. His drawings are fluid, and the staging and panel work is top-notch. He’s even included little touches that add to a sense of atmosphere, such as Frankish women collecting arrows from the dead bodies of the foes during a break in battle.”
Now, fact-based head bashing doesn’t always fly off the shelves, but I have this suspicion that Vikings might be the next big thing in testosterone-driven docudrama. I could be wrong, and usually am, but if the Spartans could pull it off, who’s to say the Vikings can’t?
The Vinland Saga was originally published in Kodansha’s Weekly Shônen Magazine but shifted to the monthly Afternoon, offering Yukimura a less arduous schedule and a slightly older audience. It’s still ongoing and has amassed eight volumes so far. There’s a slow-to-load but great-looking preview here. It’s being published in French by Kurokawa.
What properties from Kodansha’s copious back catalog would you like to see licensed?