License Request Day: Nasu

The terrible economy has sent more people than ever out into the yard with shovels and seed packets. Harvest time is fast approaching, and gardeners of every experience level will soon be pondering that universal question, “What the heck am I supposed to do with all of this stuff? Who needs this much eggplant?”

Nasu1Leave it to Iou Kuroda to turn the ubiquitous, easy-to-grow fruit/vegetable into a manga series, Nasu, that I really, really wish someone would license and translate into English. It was originally serialized in Kodansha’s Afternoon magazine and collected in three volumes. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about it:

Nasu is a collection of stories, focusing on a returning [DW — does the author maybe mean ‘recurring’?] series of characters, such as Takama, a farmer, and a young girl named Aya Takahashi, who begins the series abandoned by her father and residing in Tokyo with her two younger siblings, and as the manga progresses to its second volume, leaves the city to reside in the countryside with her relatives, near Takama’s farm. Apart from the chapters concerning Takama and Aya, other stories are also featured, such as one telling the chronicles of samurai in the Edo period hunting forbidden eggplant (nasu), another set atop a futuristic Mount Fuji, another tale concerning a truck driver, and also ‘Summer in Andalusia’, the story concerning the professional Spanish bicyclist Pepe Benengeli, from which the film was adapted.”

Nasu2It was also published in French by Sakka, but I can’t find it anywhere on Sakka’s web site. Here are the listings for its three volumes on Amazon France.

Aside from the fact that it sounds awesome, Kuroda is one of those creators who tops my “Please license more work from this person” wish list. This is based on my abiding love for his one work available in English, the splendid Sexy Voice and Robo (Viz), which was originally serialized in current buzz-anthology IKKI. Here’s some critical reaction to that book:


“So multi-layered is this manga that any attempts to explain the story end in ‘Oh, just read it and you’ll see.’ And there’s no reason not to read it—it’s smart enough for picky intellectual comics nerds, thrilling enough for action lovers, and deep enough for those who care about characters, emotions and drama.” Carlo Santos, Anime News Network

Sexy Voice and Robo is a marvelous comic. Kuroda’s singular vision and craft transcend conventional ideas of genre and storytelling. It’s one of the best graphic novels I’ve read all year, and you really should try it, even if you don’t think you like manga.” Me, Comic World News

Nasu3And here’s Shaenon K. Garrity’s image-rich celebration of the book in her Overlooked Manga Festival which, incidentally, is where I first heard about Nasu.

Seriously, I’ve never run into anyone (mostly the web version of “run into,” obviously) who has read Sexy Voice and Robo who doesn’t yearn for more of Kuroda’s work to be licensed and translated. And Viz, since you’re sharing IKKI titles online, why not throw Sexy Voice and Robo into the mix? It’s one of the best things you’ve ever, ever published, so give it a second chance.

7 Responses to License Request Day: Nasu

  1. […] publishers: David Welsh has found another Io Kuroda manga for you to license: Nasu. I have to say, it sounds […]

  2. Lorena says:

    This is the second garden-related thing someone has mentioned this morning (and it’s not even 7 a.m. in California!) and it’s blowing my mind since I sent off a story pitch on urban gardens last night.

    Anyway, I can’t say that I wouldn’t love, love, love to see more of Kuroda’s work stateside. Besides, it involves eggplant, one of my fav veggies!

  3. davidpwelsh says:

    The obsessive foodies of Oishinbo are a great start, and Moyasimon (set in an agricultural college) certainly won’t hurt, but I won’t be happy until I see the whole, farm-to-table food cycle represented in manga.

  4. […] on some of Kuroda’s unlicensed work. I’ve already made a plea for his eggplant-inspired Nasu, so the next logical choice is Japan Tengu Party […]

  5. […] (Viz) led me to request for Japan Tengu Party Illustrated, and I’d already asked for Kuroda’s Nasu. By the time the feast focused on Kaoru Mori’s Emma came around, I’d already issued a plea for […]

  6. […] Nasu, written and illustrated by Iou Kuroda: Isn’t it well past time we got more comics by Kuroda in translation? […]

  7. […] titles that start with the letter “N,” I’m most eager to see someone publish Iou Kuroda’s Nasu, which originally ran in Kodansha’s […]

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