Many months ago, I reviewed the Zipang anime, a series which defied all my expectations by being a story that combined World War II and time travel in a way that was most definitely worthy. At the time, the manga was nigh impossible to find in English, but since then, the first volume has come into my possession, and whilst it is only the first link in a much longer chain, it is at least a start.
As anime viewers will know, Zipang did not have the most auspicious of endings- having gotten as far as it could within twenty-six episodes, it basically just stopped, leaving us to wonder just what was supposed to happen next. Obviously, a single volume of the manga isn’t enough to tell us that, but at least the series wastes no time in getting on with it, with this opening instalment seeing the 21st century ship Mirai go back in time to 1942, witness the Battle of Midway, rescue a downed officer and get attacked by an American ship- all events that anime viewers will immediately recognise. Yes, on the surface the series looks to be for military buffs only, but rest assured- just like the anime, this is something everyone can enjoy.
With the anime sticking so close to the original in terms of content, it should come as no surprise that the main difference comes in the quality of the visuals. Whilst never the most aesthetically pleasing of series, the Zipang anime was at least technically accomplished, but whilst the manga puts a lot of effort into accurately rendering the setting and technology of both the past and present, the character designs are generally simplistic and ugly (even the female medical officer looks like a chubby man). Shading also seems particularly flat, relying on large area of uniform grey rather than anything more complex, and the few colour pages would have been better left as black and white.
Although the average artwork and lack of anything new for those who have already seen the anime may seem to render reading this volume generally pointless, it is nonetheless a solid start to a worthy series. Hopefully more of this manga will be made available, with the eventual aim being to pass the finishing line of the anime and delve into the mysteries of what happens next.