Shuna’s Journey

by dm00

After years of having the book on my shelf (and having a scanlation on my hard-drive), I finally read Hayao Miyazaki’s Shuna no tabi (Shuna’s Journey).

 

Shuna is the prototype for many Miyazaki heroes and heroines

Shuna is the prototype for many Miyazaki heroes and heroines

 

It is the tale of a the prince of a small impoverished country. One day a traveller appears, and, dying, tells the story of a rich grain that grows in a land far to the West. In the weeks that follow, Shuna can think of nothing else but finding this grain and returning with it to benefit his people.

 

...and images from this early story found their way into Miyazaki's later films

...and images from this early story found their way into Miyazaki's later films

 

 

...or into Goro Miyazaki's <em>Wizard of Earthsea</em>

...or into Goro Miyazaki's Wizard of Earthsea

 

As Shuna travels west, he encounters different people in a desperate world — full of slave-traders and cannibals.

 

Ashitaka, er Shuna, encounters a strange old man who tells him of gods in the West

Ashitaka, er Shuna, encounters a strange old man who tells him of gods in the West

 

Shuna encounters a proud slave-girl, and cannot bear to see her enslaved. He frees her and her sister, they flee, parting company at the border to the land of the gods, with a promise to meet again in the North.

Shuna climbs down into the “land of the gods”, and steals the grain, fleeing in desperation, forced to abandon both his gun and his knife. He wanders in the wilderness, until Yakkul catches his scent on the wind, and rushes off with Thea to find him, mute, and mad.

It is a fine, melancholy story, inspired by a Tibetan folk-tale. This picture-book format is a good one for Miyazaki. It’s something of a shame that he hasn’t used it more.

The book was written in the early 80s — around the same time as Miyazaki was starting work on Nausicaa. You can see echoes of Nausicaa in the landscapes and costumes, but you’ll also see echos of Shuna in many of Studio Ghibli’s works — images from this book could have been used to storyboard bits of both Princess Mononoke and Wizard of Earthsea.

With ISBN-10: 4196695108 or ISBN-13: 978-4196695103, it’s available from
from Amazon.co.jp, and is well worth adding to your collection, especially since it costs a mere 470 Yen. The images reproduced here are taken from the “Scum Scans” scanlation. This, and other scanlations are readily found using a search engine.

3 Responses to “Shuna’s Journey”


  1. 1 ghostlightning October 7, 2009 at 11:41 pm

    Wow, thanks for this! I’ll definitely check it out.

  2. 2 2DT October 11, 2009 at 8:32 am

    It sounds incredibly bleak, but worthwhile. I’ll look for it. Cheers.

  3. 3 Yukie November 1, 2011 at 9:09 pm

    I’ve been a fan of Miyazaki’s all my life, but this was the first time I’ve heard about him having a picture book! Thanks for the post, i’ll definitely check it out.


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