Readerz.Net / Kaoru Kurimoto / The Guin Saga
Guin Saga (グイン・サーガ, Guin Sāga) is a best-selling heroic fantasy novel series by the Japanese author Kaoru Kurimoto, in continuous publication since 1979. A record 100 volumes were originally planned, but the final total stands at 130 volumes and 22 side-story novels, with the last four volumes and the twenty-second side novel published posthumously. She was working on the 130th volume of Guin Saga up until May 23, 2009, after which point she became too ill to write. After the 100th book in the series was published in 2005, an event to celebrate this was held in Tokyo, with 600 attending. Guin Saga is the longest continuing single-writer's work in the world, with total sales of 30 million copies.
The main story of Guin Saga resumed on November 8, 2013, four years after the passing of the original author. Yū Godai published Volume 131 Parro no Ankoku on that date, followed by Yume Yohino's Volume 132 Cylon no Banka in December 2013.
The story centers around a mysterious warrior named Guin, an amnesiac with a leopard mask magically affixed to his head. Remembering nothing but his fighting instincts and the word "Aurra", he confronts a world laden with danger, intrigue, and magic.
Painted covers and interior illustrations for volumes 1-19 (1979–1984) were done by Naoyuki Kato. Noted artist Yoshitaka Amano then took the reins until vol. 57 (1997), upon which time he was replaced by Jun Suemi. Shinobu Tanno, whose style closely resembles Suemi's, has been the series artist since vol. 88 (2003) until the final 130th book in 2009.
Novels released in English
American publisher Vertical has released the first five volumes, translated into English by known game translator Alexander O. Smith. The English editions have drawn praise comparing the series to The Lord of the Rings and Conan the Barbarian. The novels have also been translated into German, French, Russian, Italian, Korean and Chinese. Vertical has released the first five novels in English, but only the first three in hardback and paperback editions.
There are two manga based on the Guin Saga. The Guin Saga Manga:The Seven Magi グイン・サーガ七人の魔道師 is based on a gaiden (side-story) from the Guin Saga novels, where Guin is now King of Cheironia and must protect his kingdom from a magical plague. The story was originally published as a novel in 1981 and was adapted to manga in 2001. It is illustrated by Kazuaki Yanagisawa, was published in Japan by Media Factory, and has been released in English in three volumes by Vertical.
The other manga is based on the early part of the story and is adapted to manga format by Hajime Sawada, as part of the Jive series Kurimoto Kaoru The Comic (栗本薫 The Comic), adapting Kurimoto's works to manga form.
On April 12, 2005, Micott & Basara (Japanese investors) announced plans to create an anime based on Guin Saga. In October 2008 more details surfaced which revealed Atsushi Wakabayashi is directing the anime, while famous video game composer Nobuo Uematsu is creating the score. This is Uematsu's first full soundtrack for an anime, and Wakabayashi's first directing role. Animation production was handled by Satelight and the background art by Studio Easter. The anime debuted on April 5, 2009. On April 3, 2009 an English-dubbed trailer was posted on the anime's official website. On May 7, 2010, North American anime licensor Sentai Filmworks announced that they have acquired the series. Sentai, along with distributor Section23 Films, released part one of the series on DVD on March 29, 2011. Section23 had previously announced a Blu-ray release, but it has been postponed indefinitely. On May 8, 2012, Sentai Filmworks released a complete Guin Saga BD Set encompassing the entire series.
The anime uses two pieces of theme music. "Theme of Guin" (グインのテーマ, Guin no Tēma) by Nobuo Uematsu is the series' opening theme, while "Saga~This is my road" by Kanon is the series' ending theme. The soundtrack, comprising two CDs, was released on June 24, 2009.
The anime is expected to adapt the first sixteen volumes of the novels.
On September 21, 2005, six image albums were released for Guin Saga. There were only 5,000 copies made of each CD. The six CDs were:
Berserk creator Kentaro Miura has stated that Guin Saga was a large influence on his work. The books won the 2010 Seiun Award for long fiction. Science fiction critic Mari Kotani regards Guin as "a hero who lives on the border between man and beast". Erin Finnegan from Pop Shock Culture comments that the book "is absolute torture for the first 100 pages, but suddenly at page 105 it turns good". She also comments that the fight scenes "although cheesy at times" "are all entertainingly well written". The Seattle Times's Nisi Shawl comments that "the book's intense images and dreamlike simplicity give it an anime air".
Jason Thompson of Otaku USA criticises The Seven Magi for trying to summarise "116 volumes and still going" novel series into a few volumes, which "means a lot of backstory that isn't explained for the casual American reader". Later, writing for the appendix to Manga: The Complete Guide, he found the English dialogue in the series "captures the retro pulp fantasy style almost to the point of self-parody", describing the art as "macho and grotesque", although finding the background art "flat". Thompson also found the story was too open at the end. Ian Randal Strock of sfscope.com commends the manga for its "black-and-white pen-and-ink work".
Theron Martin enjoyed the broadening of scope of the series in the second half of the anime.