A glimpse into the personal life of the man who unified the tribes of Mongolia into a powerful nation -- Genghis Khan!
Writer/Artist: Nakaba Higurashi and Seiichi Morimura
Translation: Sheldon Drzka
Adaptation: Sheldon Drzka
What They Say
Temujin (later to be called Genghis Khan) was born to the leader of a Mongolian clan with all portents of greatness: a glowing face and fire in his eyes. When Temujin is 11 years old, he meets a boy from another tribe--Jamuqa--while hunting down a deer. Before they can decide who will keep the kill, they save each other from stalking wolves. To honor their newly established friendship, the two boys become blood brothers, swearing eternal loyalty to each other as long as they shall live. After some years, however, both Temujin and Jamuqa have the ambition to contend for supremacy of Mongolia, and they become enemies.
The front illustration features close-ups of Genghis Khan and his former blood brother Jamuqa. Their dramatic expressions emanate challenge and determination, as befitting rivals. The title logo, white letters against a stroke of reddish-brown, is centered at the bottom with the creators' credits below.
On the back cover is a synopsis with illustrations of Janggar and Genghis' son Jochi to the lower right against a plain white background. Publisher and age rating icons, and genre and ISBN information are located just below the synopsis.
Paper, binding, and printing are satisfactory; however, the cover material feels a little weak, and the pages were cut too close to some dialogue and clipped off a couple of sound effects. The title page, another illustration of Genghis and Jamuqa, and table of contents, featuring Janggar and Jochi, are printed in color. Extras include early character design sketches; congratulatory notes to Higurashi-sensei from her assistants; an afterword from the mangaka; a two-page exposition about Genghis Khan, Morimura's novel based upon his life, and the film and manga adaptions of that story; and an ad for the Genghis Khan: To the Ends of the Earth and Sea film.
Higurashi does a great job illustrating the Mongols' clothing, armor, and weapons. The details are wonderful, down to the stitching and fur trim. She also conveys characters' emotions effectively, whether bloodlust on the battlefield or internal turmoil on a sleepless night. However, characters' bodies are shapeless, and their faces are overly similar. It took paying close attention to outfits and hairstyles to differentiate between characters. There is one scene in Chapter 1 which interweaves a fight between Genghis' sons with a flashback of Genghis' youth where it gets especially difficult to tell which boy is who.
The background drawings of the Mongolian plains strive to convey a sense of grandeur; however, they fall short as the illustrations have a sketchy look to them. Panels, however, are well paced, and the action easy to follow.
Aside from one typo, the dialogue translation is satisfactory. A few background notes are provided in footnotes in gutters.
Most of the Japanese sound effects are removed, though several remain on the pages. Translations for the sound effects are provided using overlays. They use a decent variety of lettering styles, but some of the sound effects are formatted awkwardly (i.e., "ROARRR" was split into two lines as “RO” "ARRR” ).
In 1160, a child named Temujin is born to the chief of a nomadic tribe. By age 11, he already shows such promise that his father predicts he'll one day command all of Mongolia. His abilities pique the interest of Jamuqa, a boy from a neighboring tribe, and the two swear to be blood brothers. However, as the boys grow to adulthood and Temujin attains the title of Genghis Khan, ambition supersedes loyalties, and Temujin and Jamuqa become embroiled in a struggle that pits former allies against one another. As their sons are swept into the bloody conflict, will Temujin find a way to be reconciled to Jamuqa or will he be forced to destroy the man he once considered brother?
Given the title, I expected this to be a comprehensive biography of Genghis Khan on the order of DMP's Edu-manga. It's not. According to the notes provided at the end of the book, this manga was adapted from Morimura's novel of the same name, which also inspired a film (released in the United States by FUNimation Entertainment). However, the manga is not an adaption of the entire novel; rather, it focuses on a few scenes of Genghis Khan's boyhood and then skips to his 40s and the events of the final years prior to the unification of Mongolia.
While the manga might prove delightful for those familiar with the legendary leader or Morimura's novel, it falls short as a stand-alone story. Because the manga only presents excerpts from the novel, people and events are depicted out of context. Many characters are introduced who play no substantial role in the manga's five chapters, and half the characters depicted in the early character designs included in the back of the book don't show up in the manga at all. Allusions are made to significant events that are not fully explained, and the story glosses over details of the intrigue that does take place within the manga's timeline. For instance, how Jamuqa ultimately manipulates Toyril Khan against Genghis Khan is unclear, and the betrayal that turned Jamuqa against Temujin is never explained.
While the story covers pivotal battles leading to Genghis Khan's absolute rule over Mongolia, the main plot drivers are highly personal: Genghis' rivalry with Jamuqa and Jochi's determination to prove himself to his father. However, as this is a single volume manga, the stories are abbreviated and lack depth. That added with the confusion caused by information gaps makes me feel that the producers of this manga did themselves a disservice by limiting this adaption to a single volume.
This title is rated teen plus for violence.