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Hayao Miyazaki Manga 'Shuna's Journey' To Be Published In The English For The First Time

The Japanese animation (popularly known as anime) industry is closely related to Japan's comics (or manga) industry, and it has been since the very beginning. Its roots come from the fact that Osamu Tezuka, "the god of manga" was also a pioneer in animation- directing shorts, films and basically inventing the anime TV industry with Astro Boy. Many luminaries from the anime industry got their start in comics. Other times established name in animation have decided to turn their hand to writing manga later in their career.

Among the latter is Studio Ghibli co-founder and international animation icon Hayao Miyazaki. Miyazaki's work in manga is much less well known than his career in animation, but stretches back almost as long. Before getting his first job in animation in 1963, the young Miyazaki had wanted to be a manga artist. He was finally able to realise his childhood dream in 1969 when he wrote and illustrated a newspaper comic strip tie-in with the Toei movie Puss In Boots (which he was a key animator on). The same year he also created People Of The Desert, a children's manga which ran until the following year, under the pen-name Akitsu Saburō.

Miyazaki's longest-running and best known manga work was Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind, which ran from 1982 until 1994 and was adapted by the creator himself into the 1984 film of the same name. The success of that film led to the founding of Studio Ghibli and established Miyazaki as the icon he is today. Over the following years, Miyazaki still found time to pen the occasional manga in his downtime from creating some of the best animated movies of all time. The most recent was Gun Samurai, published after he (unsuccessfully) retired from filmmaking in 2015. His manga bibliography also includes works that he later turned into Porco Rosso and The Wind Rises.


Despite his explosion of popularity in the West post Spirited Away,  Nausicaä remained the only one of the master's manga to be officially available in English. That's set to change later this year with the announcement of the upcoming publication of Shuna's Journey.

The manga was originally published in Japan in 1983 as a single 187-page volume. Unlike the black and white art of his earlier manga, Miyazaki produced this entire story in goregous watercolour art. Shuna is often said to be a precursor to Nausicaä (although their production seemingly overlaps) and includes elements later used in films such as Princess Mononoke.

The book is being published in hardback by First Second Books, an imprint of Macmillan Publishing, on November 1, 2022. Alex Dudok de Wit, respected animation scholar and journalist (and son of The Red Turtle director Michael) is translating the story into English.

First Second describes the story:


From legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki comes a new manga classic about a prince on a quest for a golden grain that would save his land, never before published in English!

Shuna, the prince of a poor land, watches in despair as his people work themselves to death harvesting the little grain that grows there. And so, when a traveler presents him with a sample of seeds from a mysterious western land, he sets out to find the source of the golden grain, dreaming of a better life for his subjects.

It is not long before he meets a proud girl named Thea. After freeing her from captivity, he is pursued by her enemies, and while Thea escapes north, Shuna continues toward the west, finally reaching the Land of the God-Folk.

Will Shuna ever see Thea again? And will he make it back home from his quest for the golden grain?

A much lesser known Miyazaki work, the chance to discover this for the first time is going to appeal to many of his fans: especially those who love the Valley Of The Wind manga. We don't expect this to lead to a rush to publish all of his untranslated manga, as many of them indulge his obsession with 20th-century military hardware and aircraft, which just isn't as an easy a sell as a simple fantasy.

The book is available now to preorder from Amazon for $27.99,  RightStuf Anime for $ 22.39 or Amazon UK for £20.99.


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