License request day: Gaku

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, I should request something in a romantic vein, but I’m just not in the right groove. Perhaps it’s the fact that I’ve spent most of the week catching up on Osamu Tezuka’s Black Jack (Vertical) and reading Keiji Nakazawa’s Barefoot Gen (Last Gasp) for next week’s Manga Moveable Feast. Gory, often cynical fiction and autobiographical despair don’t suggest chocolates and flowers.

It’s also possible that I’m still a little fixated on mountain men and prize-winning manga. Fortunately, Shogakukan provides the right crossover property in the form of Gaku: Minna no Yama, or Peak: Everyone’s Mountain, written and illustrated by Shin’ichi Ishizuka, currently being serialized in Big Comic Original. Gaku won the inaugural Manga Taisho Award in 2008, and it won the Shogakukan Manga Award in 2009.

Gaku seems to track more with my expectations of what happens when you try and scramble up the side of a tall and forbidding peak: you get in trouble. And when you get in trouble, you need someone like protagonist Shimazaki Sanpo to rescue you. Sanpo helps out with a volunteer rescue team that helps climbers in trouble in the Japanese Alps.

It seems to be fairly episodic, with various character stumbling into danger and being saved (or not) by our hero. It also seems to be very beautifully drawn. Shogakukan has a number of preview pages available for several volumes. If you click on the button under the cover image on this listing for the first volume, you’ll open up another window that offers a sneak peak… er… peek. I always like when creators combine stylized character work with realistic backgrounds.

Okay, so it’s possibly not the ideal time of year for rugged, outdoor adventure or stories set in wintry landscapes, given how sick most of us are of the wintry landscapes outside our front doors. But Gaku sounds like fun, and just look how excited Sanpo is about the prospect!