Manga Giveaway: Vinland Saga Giveaway

The end of the January is drawing near, which means it’s time for the first manga giveaway of the year! In my excitement for its release, I accidentally managed to end up with two copies of the second omnibus of Makoto Yukimura’s Vinland Saga. But my mistake is your gain—this month, you all have the opportunity two win a brand new copy of the volume! Already it’s one of my favorite manga of the year. As always, the giveaway is open worldwide.

Vinland Saga, Omnibus 2

So, where I currently live in Michigan, it has been an extremely cold and snowy winter. It’s seems oddly appropriate then that Vinland Saga, Omnibus 2, with the snowstorm on its cover, was released this season. Perhaps it shouldn’t be too surprising, seeing as the series is about Vikings and all, but there’s actually quite a bit of snow in Vinland Saga. It’s not just there to look pretty or save on inking, either. Snow, and winter, has a significant impact on the story itself as battles are waged in the cold and people going about their day-to-day lives simply try to survive the elements. This got me to thinking about other manga that I’ve read in which snow plays an important role. CLAMP’s Shirahime-Syo: Snow Goddess Tales, series like Baku Yumemakura and Jiro Taniguchi’s The Summit of the Gods, and some of the stories in Yuki Urushibara’s Mushishi immediately spring to mind, but there are definitely more snowy manga out there.

So, you may be wondering, how can you win a copy of Vinland Saga, Omnibus 2?

1) In the comments below, tell me about your favorite scene in a manga that either involved or was set in snow.
2) If you’re on Twitter, you can earn a bonus entry by tweeting about the contest. Make sure to include a link to this post and @PhoenixTerran (that’s me).

It’s really that easy. For this giveaway, each person can earn up to two entries. There will be one week to submit comments. Entries may also be sent via e-mail to phoenixterran(at)gmail(dot)com and I will post them in your name. The giveaway winner will be randomly selected and announced on February 5, 2014. Best of luck to you all!

VERY IMPORTANT: Include some way that I can contact you. This can be an e-mail address, a link to your website, Twitter username, or whatever. If I can’t figure out how to get a hold of you and you win, I’ll just draw another name.

Contest winner announced—Manga Giveaway: Vinland Saga Giveaway Winner

Vinland Saga, Omnibus 1

Vinland Saga, Omnibus 1Creator: Makoto Yukimura
U.S. publisher: Kodansha
ISBN: 9781612624204
Released: October 2013
Original release: 2005
Awards: Japan Media Arts Award, Kodansha Manga Award

Makoto Yukimura’s Vinland Saga is a manga series that I have been hoping would be licensed in English for years. Understandably, I was thrilled when Kodansha Comics announced that it would be publishing the series. Not only that, Vinland Saga is Kodansha’s first foray into deluxe, hardcover manga. Kodansha’s edition of Vinland Saga uses a larger trim size than its other manga, contains color pages, and is being released in an omnibus format. The first volume of Kodansha’s Vinland Saga, published in 2013, collects the first two volumes in the original Japanese edition of the series, both of which were released in 2005. Vinland Saga is a critically acclaimed, award-winning manga. In 2009, Yukimura earned a Japan Media Arts award for the series. Even more recently, Vinland Saga won a Kodansha Manga Award in 2012. Even if Vinland Saga wasn’t already so well received, I would still want to read it. Yukimura is a the creator of Planetes, which I love, and I also happen to have a particular interest in Iceland among other things.

When he was only six years old, Thorfinn’s father was killed before his very eyes. Thors was a great man and a great warrior, but that was a life he tried to leave behind in order to live with his family in peace in a small Icelandic village. Thors’ past is inescapable and ultimately leads to his death, but in the process he is able to protect what is most dear to him. Even at such a young age Thorfinn vows to avenge his father. Ten years later he has grown into a hostile and stubborn young fighter serving under the very man who was responsible for his father’s death. Askeladd is a shrewd and cunning leader, his band of mercenaries willing to take on any job for the right price. Their battle prowess is fearsome, relying not only on their sheer strength and power but on underhanded strategies and their willingness to be utterly ruthless. Askeladd and his men may be uncouth, but they are also a terrible force to be reckoned with.

Vinland Saga is historical fiction and the series is inspired by actual events and people as well as by Norse sagas. The great adventurer Leif Ericson plays a significant role in the first omnibus of Vinland Saga and Thorfinn himself is loosely based on another explorer—Thorfinn Karlsefni. Considering that the manga deals with eleventh-century warfare and Vikings, a northern Germanic group of seafarers notorious for raiding and pillaging, it’s probably not too surprising that Vinland Saga can be rather violent. The battles in Vinland Saga are particularly well done. Some of the physical feats may be astounding or even slightly exaggerated—there are some very good reasons that Askeladd’s mercenaries are so feared—but the flow of the battles are very realistic as are the resulting deaths and injuries. Yukimura hasn’t forgotten the use and limitations of technology and tactics in Vinland Saga and they are appropriate for the era being portrayed. In general Yukimura’s action sequences are very exciting and leave quite an impression.

Vikings are often depicted as savage, bloodthirsty invaders in fiction but this portrayal misses some of the nuances and complexities of the historical reality. Yukimura notes in the afterword of the first volume of Vinland Saga that he wanted to show more than just a stereotypical representation of Vikings in his story. I think he is very successful in that. Much of Vinland Saga, Omnibus 1 focuses on brutal skirmishes, battles, and duels, but the development of Thorfinn and his family—particularly his father, but his mother and sister, too—as well as their Icelandic village and the other people who live there is also very important. The exceptional events surrounding the outbreak of war may be some of the major driving forces behind the story but the more mundane affairs of everyday life, such as the concerns over the changing weather and the coming winter and disputes over land for grazing, provide additional depth and realism to the series. I thoroughly enjoyed the first Vinland Saga omnibus and am looking forward to the release of the second.

My Week in Manga: January 3-January 9, 2011

My News and Reviews

Not much news from me this week, but I did post my first in-depth manga review for January—Ōoku: The Inner Chambers, Volume 2. I enjoyed the first volume of the series, but the second volume is even better. I also posted the Bookshelf Overload for December 2010 which features my New Year’s resolution in addition to the absurd amount of manga I’ve recently managed to acquire. Finally, I’m getting ready for next week’s Manga Moveable Feast hosted by Anna at Manga Report and featuring Karakuri Odette by Julietta Suzuki. I plan on writing an in-depth review for the first volume as well as posting some random musings about androids because, well, I like androids. I’m looking forward to seeing what others have to say about the series, too.

Quick Takes

Cat Paradise, Volumes 3-5 by Yuji Iwahara. So, the plot might get a little convoluted and difficult to follow, and there are plenty of info dumps, but Cat Paradise is still great fun and I really enjoyed it. One of the greatest things about the manga are the cats. Each one is an individual and has their own unique look and personality. Their owners/partners, too, have some great character designs. Most of the pairs have some interesting backstories that are at least hinted at if not fully explored, but the plot gets caught up pretty quickly in the action and fighting. I did see some of the plot twists coming long before they were revealed, but there were some nice surprises as well.

From Up Above by Sakuya Kurekoshi. From Up Above was originally intended to be an ongoing series, but as far as I can tell only this first volume was ever published. It’s a nice setup, but unfortunately it doesn’t work very well on its own; many of the story elements introduced simply don’t have enough time to be thoroughly developed. I found that I was filling in a lot of the plot on my own rather than strictly depending on the information Kurekoshi was providing. I like the supernatural components of the story and I’ve always been fond of human incarnations of natural forces, but From Up Above isn’t quite able to pull it off in one volume.

Old Boy, Volumes 1-8 written by Garon Tsuchiya and illustrated by Nobuaki Minegishi. I watched the film adaptation of Old Boy before I even knew it was based on a manga series. I was very excited when Dark Horse licensed the series which then went on to win an Eisner Award in 2007. Very little violence is actually seen, instead the intense mood comes from the psychological anguish the characters experience. Minegishi’s art fits the tone of the story fantastically well. Much of the story is the characters internally confronting and searching their minds, so panel after panel may pass by without even a hint of dialogue but the art is engaging and up to the task. 

Planetes, Volumes 1-4 by Makoto Yukimura. While technically a four volume series, the fourth collection was actually split into two books for the English edition. The realism and research put into the writing of Planetes is fantastic and it extends beyond technology to the human elements of living and working in space as well. I’m a big fan of science fiction to begin with, but I particularly enjoyed Yukimura’s approach in presenting a feasible near future. I did find the storytelling to be a bit disjointed moving from chapter to chapter but I really liked the characters even if their development was a bit bumpy. Although Planetes is hard science fiction, the family and interpersonal relationships are critical to the story.

You and Harujion by Keiko Kinoshita. There’s a sort of melancholy feel to most of the story and the light, scratchy artwork captures the mood well. However, the ending seems forced to me and the sudden change in the characters’ relationship was abrupt, almost as if Kinoshita suddenly remembered that it was supposed to be a boys’ love work after all. But before that, Senoh working through his thoughts a feelings regarding Harujion was actually handled quite well. He wants to be an important person in the teen’s life and is honestly and genuinely concerned for the boy’s well-being. Harujion, who has lost both of his parents and is faced with his father’s debts after his death, needs someone close.

GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka, Episodes 35-43 directed by Noriyuki Abe and Naoyasu Hanyu. I have now read through the GTO manga series once and watched the anime twice. While I ultimately probably prefer the manga, I really enjoy the anime as well. Some stories are unique to the anime and others have been modified from the original, but they all exhibit the spirit of GTO. Granted, some of the more extreme antics from the manga have been toned down for the anime. The final two episodes of the series seem to come out of nowhere but they tie up everything pretty nicely. The story ends in an entirely different way than the manga but it works even if it is a bit sudden.

Oldboy directed by Park Chan-wook. While Oldboy isn’t my favorite of Park Chan-wook’s Vengeance Trilogy, it is still a fantastic film. I had seen the movie once before, so I wasn’t taken by surprise by some of the major plot twists that are thrown in. However, I was still able to thoroughly enjoy and appreciate the work. The basic premise is the same as that of the manga, although the ultimate reason behind the protagonist’s imprisonment is different. Despite the amount of action and violence involved in the film adaptation, the story is still primarily one huge mind game that is slowly and methodically revealed.