Dark Horse brings the first volume of Kenji Tsuruta’s “Wandering Island” to the shores and shelves of English readers.

The 2011 story follows the high flying pilot Mikura Amelia. She delivers packages using her old but trustworthy floatplane under her courier company “Mikura Amelia Air Services.” Recently she inherited full ownership of the company after its co-founder, her grandfather Brian Amelia died. While still mourning over her loss, Mikura finds a set of notebooks and a mysterious package for her from her grandfather. All concerns Electric Island, a strange location that few knows about and nearly none has information about its location. No one, except for her grandfather. Finding a new mission in her life, Mikura starts a quest to go to Electric Island and deliver her grandfather’s final package.

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Tsuruta takes the audience on a unique journey to the waters by the Japanese islands. He spares no expense with the amount of details he put into the interior art. When looking at scenes of Mikura’s flights over the ocean, some anime fans may reminisce of legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki’s films “Porco Rosso” and “The Wind Rises” alongside studio Gonzo’s series “Last Exile.” While all deal with aircrafts, none compare to Tsuruta’s attention to actual elements like Mikura’s beloved vehicle and her meticulous mapmaking. The composition of the panels shows a lot of the different settings while still keeping focus on his young female protagonist and her interactions. He pulls on emotions as he shows the quarter-life crisis and struggles of Mikura. Readers around her age may relate with her trials, sharing some of the same feelings of youthful, naive and slightly reckless determination. Still, we see how she tackles the sudden shift in life and new responsibilities.

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Dark Horse beautifully produced Volume One of “Wandering Island,” giving it a full-wrap cover including interior side flaps. Like many of the published English-translated manga, there is a portion after the main story that the editorial staff usually dedicates to reference notes. This series’s team does the same, however editor Carl Gustav Horn gives readers quite a history lesson on Japanese air travel and gives some of his opinions on Tsuruta’s possible references for the storyteller’s creations. Horn then ends his notes with talking about Dark Horse’s time with the manga business and a special dedication to the late Toren Smith of Studio Proteus, one of the few that helped establish the industry many love.

It is unknown when Volume Two will be out on shelves. Horn mentions in the notes that Tsuruta has a reputation for a sparse amount of new manga material which is due to his other illustrating work. One can hope that the care from the oversea publisher and response from readers encourages the creator to continue the project.

For more information, visit darkhorse.com or your local manga vendor.

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