Story: Hiroki Kusumoto
Art: Hiroki Kusumoto
What They Say
The Life of Akechi Mitsuhide — The trials and aspirations of a man who serves in the shadow of a great leader, Oda Nobunaga, like a moon that mirrors a blazing sun. But what happens when an incident at Hongan-ji leads to a change of heart in Mitsuhide? A long-running historical drama portrayed in fine detail.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Do not be misled by the cover images of Akechi Mitsuhide and Oda Nobunaga – this is not that kind of manga! King’s Moon is a very straightforward recounting of what is commonly known and accepted about Akechi Mitsuhide in his service and estrangement from Oda Nobunaga during the first part of the Sengoku Period.
There is a challenge that comes with the history of this period. There is such a large cast of characters, many unfamiliar place names and such double-dealing that it can be difficult to keep all of it straight. This one volume manga puts faces (some very nice ones, too) to names and puts those faces at the right place at the right time. Since this is a single volume, much of the behind-the-scenes treachery instigated by other clans is mentioned in passing; there are no long scenes of diabolical plotting. Surprisingly, the mangaka, given the restraints, manages to give the reader a good sense of what Nobunaga may have been like. Charismatic, powerful, cunning and deceitful, Nobunaga demanded loyalty and gave none, which Mitsuhide was to find out.
Mitsuhide, who is not the white-haired devil of Sengoku Basara, is given a very sympathetic portrayal as an honorable man caught up in dishonorable things with dishonorable people. The mangaka makes a point of allowing Mitsuhide to give voice to sentiments that question Nobunaga’s thirst for power. While this is not stated as such for Mitsuhide’s betrayal of Nobunaga resulting in Nobunaga’s suicide at Honganji, the mangaka seems to want to make a case for it. However, having had one’s castles taken away (Sakamoto), having to remit Tanbi and Shiga for Mori lands that had been appropriated by Nobunaga (in violation of a treaty), and having one’s relatives killed would have been enough for Mitsuhide without putting any kind of principle on it.
It is not known how or why Mitsuhide forced Nobunaga to commit suicide. King’s Moon seems to like the military answer in that Nobunaga’s forces were just spread too thin and Mitsuhide was able to take advantage. Based on what the mangaka shows of Nobunaga’s power as a leader and a strategist, this seems a stretch. Mitsuhide didn’t have that many allies and those he had quickly abandoned him. As for Mitsuhide, once Nobunaga was dead, the potential usurpers waste no time and no time in wasting Mitsuhide. It is said that he was killed by a peasant (no, not Katakura Kojiro), but it is also said that he escaped death and became a monk called Tenkai. Capcom was to like the latter version.
The artwork is very nicely detailed with much care taken to differentiate the many characters. There is little to no battle depiction and any death that takes place does so out of panel. Very much a talking head treatment and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The artwork rarely goes off-model but there are one or two instances where there is a clumsiness about putting heads on necks and things just don’t sit right. Hiroki Kusumoto has been published in English before. DMP had published Wild Butterfly and Vampire’s Portrait under their June Yaoi imprint. Those titles are action adventure not yaoi and King’s Moon fits well into her oeuvre.
King’s Moon is an action title that’s very much a bullet list with lots of illustrations. There’s a lot of material covered here and for those of us who know little of the Warring States period, this is an entertaining way to start to make some sense of it.
Content Grade: B+
Art Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Text/Translation Grade: B+
Age Rating: Teen Plus
Released By: JManga/Shobunkan CO., LTD/BURAI COMICS
Release Date: 2011/2011
MSRP: 499 Points (Subscription)