Dark Horse Comics
(W/A) Kenji Tsuruta
In recent years, manga and most forms of entertainment seem to push only have a few genre’s at the forefront with those being, Superheroes, Slice of Life, and Coming of Age, to name a few of the big ones. They do this for “good” reasons. They sell like grannies hotcakes, people can’t stop buying them even if some are carbon copies! Recently I’ve missed the old “let’s explore and go on an adventure, finding new places and people!” The sense of wonder, journey, and adventurism doesn’t seem to be mainstream anymore, but with the second volume of Kenji Tsuruta’s Wandering Island we may see a new tide in entertainment.
Originally published in Japan in 2010, America didn’t see the release of the first volume until 2016, then had to wait three more years to see the second volume. What may deter even more readers is the fact that years later, the series has yet to go past volume 2 as it is in hiatus, with no new info of its return. This may sound like a train wreck to some, but I hope that doesn’t stop any from reading it because in a genre that’s lacking. Wandering Island makes one long for fun journeys again.
As common with most manga, the task of story and art are completed by the same person, with Kenji Tsuruta in charge of both. Building upon the premise of volume one, Mikure and her cat Endeavour are setting course for the mysterious Electric Island. Within a few pages, she finds the ever floating island, and after some damage from canon fire her plane crashes. Waking up in a strangers house, she gets up and does some good ol’ exploring, coming to the realization that she is in fact on the island, but with the locals being extremely hostile she has no means of gaining info. With no help and no real reason to stay, she sets out to fix her plane while making maps of the city. It may seem “uneventful,” but the map making and charting the island’s course is a wave of fun. We are treated to some beautiful panels of her walking around and drawing the map. The storytelling is so subtle that Tsuruta rarely needed dialogue to convey what was taking place.
For stories that don’t rely on dialogue, you need art that can speak for itself and engage the reader. Tsuruta’s art does just that and more. With lines akin to Hiroaki Samura (Blade Of The Immortal) and scenery that could give Studio Ghibli a run for its money, I can see why Tsuruta decided with barely any dialogue throughout. With art this gorgeous and world building it feels good to the soul just to sit and stare at the pages.
Final Thoughts: If a heartfelt, grand journey is what you desire then Wandering Island Vol. 2 is a must read. Let’s just hope it gets finished sometime soon.
Memorable Quote: “That geezer’s got binoculars”, for some reason this made me laugh a lot.