November 10, 2015
Mitsuhisa Kuji – Vertical – 2013 – 6 volumes
It took me a minute to get to this one! I actually picked this up because I was trying to decide whether I wanted to splurge on the last three volumes during a Right Stuf Vertical sale. Well, I hadn’t read the first three, so I tried it, and it was awesome. The art is great, and I have a soft spot for historical manga set in Europe.
This is very dark. There’s a guarded gate between Italy and the Austrian Empire (possibly somewhere in the Lombardy region), and a legendary gatekeeper named Wulf who makes sure none pass without a permit. The locals are rebellious and continuously try to fool Wulf, forge documents, or hike over the mountain to get through to Italy, but he never falls for it.
So far, the stories are episodic. Each one focuses on someone trying to get through the gate (in this volume, via the three methods I mentioned above), and basically failing. Wulf is a smiling menace. Other than ruthlessly dispatching people trying to cross illegally, it’s hard not to like him a little bit for his ability to instantly know what’s up.
Ongoing elements include the vague rebellion that’s brewing, hence why people are trying to cross (it explains that usually only overland merchants cross, and not the local population), an innkeeper stationed outside the gate who tends to talk to the travellers before they attempt the crossing, and Wulf himself, who is the puppet of a rather cruel politician. I cannot wait to see where the latter goes.
It has great dark, blocky, heavily outlined art, and it conveys the European flavor very well. And at only 6 volumes, I’m excited about devouring it quickly. I’m sorry I waited so long now.