Goodreads: Shuna’s Journey
Age Category: Young Adult
Published: 1983; Translation 2022
From legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki comes a new manga classic about a prince on a quest for a golden grain that would save his land, never before published in English!
Shuna, the prince of a poor land, watches in despair as his people work themselves to death harvesting the little grain that grows there. And so, when a traveler presents him with a sample of seeds from a mysterious western land, he sets out to find the source of the golden grain, dreaming of a better life for his subjects.
It is not long before he meets a proud girl named Thea. After freeing her from captivity, he is pursued by her enemies, and while Thea escapes north, Shuna continues toward the west, finally reaching the Land of the God-Folk.
Will Shuna ever see Thea again? And will he make it back home from his quest for the golden grain?
Two years before Studio Ghibli was founded, Hayao Miyazaki’s book Shuna’s Journey was released. Based on a Tibetan folktale, it follows Prince Shuna as he leaves his famine-stricken land to search for a fabled golden grain that can save his people. The trademarks of Miyazaki are all here–the epic scope, the flawed hero, the strong and determined heroine, and the beautiful artwork. Fans of Miyazaki will not want to miss out on another compelling story from the master storyteller!
Perhaps what intrigued me most about Shuna’s Journey was the sense of ambiguity it has. As with many of Miyazaki’s stories, much of the storytelling is actually left to the reader. Shuna travels across strange lands and encounters people both cruel and kind, but often what exactly is happening is never explained. Why do the city dwellers want to capture Shuna? What are the green giants? Are the gods still there? And, if so, are they good? Only the reader can decide.
The storytelling also does not fear to go its own way. Many stories on the market today seem similar to the point of being formulaic, but Miyazaki’s tale does not follow convention. If he wants to follow Shuna for most of the book, only to switch to another character’s perspective towards the end, he will! If he wants to upend the traditional way of fairy tales, he will do that, too. It is always pleasure to read something that feels original, and Miyazaki always delivers with his own unique vision.
Miyazaki fans will definitely want to check this one. The gorgeous water color artwork, especially the landscapes, are evocative, as always. And the story, strange and mysterious, is compelling, as always. This is a book that is more of an experience than a book.
4 thoughts on “Shuna’s Journey by Hayao Miyazaki, Trans. by Alex Dudok de Wit”
I love Ghibli so this sounds amazing!
Yes, I was so excited to see it at the library!
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this sounds so wonderful, I’m interested to see how the story breaks today’s fantasy formula we often encounter & read a Miyazaki book. Fantastic review!
Yes, I love Miyazaki’s work because it always feels so original!
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