A stunning new interpretation of the Witcher franchise makes its debut this month with the original manga The Witcher: Ronin. In a new world inspired by Edo-period Japan, Geralt is faced with difficult moral choices while battling a variety of yōkai and oni, creatures inspired by Japanese myths. Each encounter drops a clue in his desperate search for a mysterious apparition known as the Lady of Snow, Yuki Onna, for she is the key to who Geralt seeks, but finding her won’t be easy…
Having conquered the mediums of novels, video games, comics and television – it was only a matter of time before a Witcher manga was produced. But this isn’t just a cash crab as the same level of attention and care is being applied to this manga that is being given to other media in the franchise. Rafal Jaki – the manager of business development at CD PROJEKT RED overseeing many of their hit games and co-creator of the hit anime series Cyberpunk: Edgerunners – is handling the writing, so you already know the story is going to be in good hands. On art duties is Hataya who is best known for the manga series Neko no Matasaburou and Mangaka Joshi, Tabi ni Deru along with her work on the Pokémon trading card game. Both come together to make one of the most unique Witcher experiences yet.
The manga does a terrific job of evoking the classical Japanese setting. It is obviously important to keep Geralt consistent with his prior appearances and he maintains the gruff exterior he is know for. But he manages to slot very well into Edo-period Japan inspired world, especially when it comes to taking on the lone samurai role. The different yokai and oni he encounters are well suited for his role as a witcher (monster hunter) and their different situations give the story some variety. The search for Yuki Onna remains the most compelling part though, with the enigmatic Yuki being a key factor in Geralt’s search for Ciri and she has left a strong impact on the villagers Geralt comes by in his travels.
Hataya is a strong fit when it comes to the art. She has an elegant quality which evokes the feel of classic historical manga, but she is also a deft hand when it comes to depicting the different monsters Geralt encounters. Her character work really shines with Geralt being instantly recognisable but also having elements of classic samurai heroes in this interpretation. Her depiction of Yuki Onna is particularly striking.
This is an engaging interpretation of the Witcher world which has had a lot of love and care put into it. Fans of the franchise will find it a more than worthy edition to their collections.
The Witcher: Ronin (Manga) is out now from Dark Horse (9781506733500, p/b, £18.99)
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