License request day: Jin

Anime News Network passed along the announcement of the manga nominees for the 15th Osamu Tezuka Cultural Prize. You all know what that means, right? We’ve struck a vein of license request ore! It’s an interesting and diverse slate, and I’m sure it will fuel future license requests, but there’s one title that has an unshakable grasp on my imagination and curiosity.

That would be Jin, written and illustrated by Motoka Murakami and serialized in Shueisha’s Super Jump for a total of 20 volumes. Any manga that launches with a modern-day doctor finding a carcinogenic fetus in a patient’s skull, followed by that fetus then sending said doctor back in time is a manga I want to read very, very badly.

It’s being published in French by Tonkam, which makes it much easier for me to figure out details about the book. I’m guessing that the fetus is just a MacGuffin to send our hero, 30-something doctor Jin Minakata, back to the Edo period. He adapts to his new/old world and begins applying his modern medical knowledge to bygone problems.

A cholera epidemic in Yokohama… communicable diseases among the courtesans of the red-light district… “discovering” penicillin centuries ahead of time… a geisha with breast cancer… If you want to be a busy doctor and seem like a miraculous genius whether you are one or not, it seems like all you have to do is go back in time. (How you get there is your own problem. My suggestion would be to randomly x-ray the skulls of your patients for mysterious fetuses. Of course, any fetus you find in someone’s skull is bound to count as “mysterious.”)

Judging by the sample pages from the first volume that Tonkam has shared, the art looks very clean, detailed, and attractive in a seinen sort of way that won’t be unfamiliar to fans of creators like Jiro Taniguchi. And while it’s perhaps a little soon after asking for Zipang to dip into the well of rewritten history, I think Jin sounds different enough in era and focus that they wouldn’t cannibalize each other’s audience, should we see a day when they’re simultaneously published in English.

So that’s my first choice from the current Tezuka nominees. I’ve only chosen one cover image, because they’re all pretty similar, featuring a strangely blank Jin standing with a beautiful woman. I used to work at a local newspaper, and so many submitted wedding photos looked kind of like these covers, with the woman actively engaging the camera and the man staring out of the frame at something shiny.

Which of the Tezuka nominees would you most like to see licensed?