Osamu Akimoto’s KochiKame manga ended in September after 40 consecutive years running, but its creator hasn’t used that as an excuse to rest on his laurels. The idea he said he had brewing has come to fruition in Black Tiger, a manga that launched in the latest issue of Grand Jump magazine.
The 53-page first chapter begins an “intense gun action” story, set in the United States during the fallout from the American Civil War. The northern government has begun issuing Licenses to Kill to bounty hunters, with orders to exterminate the South’s remaining soldiers and outlaws. One of those bounty hunters is the female gunslinger known as Black Tiger. She has the guts to face off against any enemy, most of which are carrying arms of nefarious killing ability.
But Akimoto’s been even busier than we thought, because this series is only the beginning of the ‘Akimoto Osamu 4 New Manga Project!!’. Grand Jump‘s website published a full interview with Akimoto, in which he introduces the project and his four incoming manga series. In this interview, Akimoto said that before KochiKame he wrote unpublished shojo manga. He’s noted that there are no men writing shojo in the current era, and so he wanted to write a story about high school girls who challenge themselves, no boys or romance in the picture. Inspired by anime studio Kyoto Animation, especially shows such as Sound! Euphonium and K-ON!, he aimed to write a story that highlights the seasons of Kyoto. The series he’s been planning for two years now will follow girls who are attracted to the city, but also love and appreciate the place in which they were raised.
This idea has become Finder -Kyoto Jogakuin Monogatari- (Finder: Kyoto Girls Academy Story), which will launch in Weekly Young Jump on February 2nd. In the Kyoto suburb of Kameoka four regular girls, Takako, Tsubame, Chidori, and Suzume, are looking for a little everyday excitement. Amazed by the passionate principal of Kyoto Girls Academy High, who also turns out to be the president of a women’s photography club, the girls join in, and the story begins to revolve around their photos.
The third title, the new Mr. Clice, will debut in Jump Square on February 4th. This series is a reboot of Akimoto’s own 1989 manga, which ended in 2007 in Monthly Shonen Jump. The adult “thrilling action” follows Japanese secret agent Jin Kurisu (Jim Clice), who gets injured during a stand-off and ultimately dies. Too valuable to lose, his brain is transplanted into the body of a female tennis player, who just happened to die around the same time. Clice isn’t pleased about his predicament, and demands to return to a male body. But due to the ‘professional advantages’ his new body will give him, the higher-ups don’t give him a choice. Instead, he makes the best of it and takes on missions that send him around the world.
The fourth and final title, Ii Yu Da Ne!, will begin in Ultra Jump on March 18th. This story is set in the Kuma No Yu bathhouse in the Shitamachi area, in Tokyo’s lowlands. Goro Kuma, the owner of the bathhouse, is a gold prospector who travels in search of mines, and so his son stays behind with his grandfather to look after the business while he’s away. One such day, Goro’s Brazilian wife Maria arrives at the bathhouse. Both son and grandfather are moved by her warmth and sincerity, and her presence, in all its beauty and brightness, saves the bathhouse from the brink of closure.
Phew, that’s certainly enough work to keep on old mangaka busy, and all being well KochiKame fans will be entertained for years to come. Black Tiger sounds like a riot, and we’d be curious to see it for ourselves. Here’s hoping it gains enough traction for an English release somewhere down the line. How about you? Is there a series that you’re most looking forward to?