Manga Monday: Captain Ken

Captain Ken (Volume 1)
Osamu Tezuka

The first of two volumes, Captain Ken was funded by a Kickstarter campaign that thankfully gets more Tezuka into the hands of American fans.  I honestly wasn't expecting much from this title.  I'm not sure why, when I've been blown away by the ground-breaking work that Tezuka has turned out - Princess Knight being one of my all-time favorite manga.  I think it just looked a little dated, but, again, Princess Knight proved how timeless Tezuka's work truly is.

Captain Ken is a western that takes place on Mars.  Humans invaded Mars decades ago, killing and enslaving most of the martian population.  There are some rebel tribes of martians that cause trouble for locals, such as the Moro Tribe, whose treasure was stolen during the invasion as well.  Captain Ken appears on Mars at the same time as a young girl named Kenn, who stays with a local family, and there are suspicions that they could be one and the same person.  With his mechanical horse Arrow, Captain Ken takes on the local riff-raff and corrupt politicians, fighting for the local humans, as well as the weak martians.

I really enjoy the blending of the two genres in this book.  It has the tropes of a western: horseback riding, drawing guns in battle, sharp shooters, but with a sci-fi twist: robotic horses, different gravity that allows for certain maneuvers, rocket ships.  The martians basically serve as "Indians" in this book, and draws heavily on the "cowboys and Indians" dynamic, with neither trusting each other, and "the white man" oppressing and murdering the martians.  The mystery of Captain Ken's identity adds another little something to the story, just in case the action isn't enough to hold a reader's attention.  Tezuka also injects the story with a good amount of humor, making this a great read for all ages.  This is definitely another fine addition to the growing library of Osamu Tezuka books translated into English, and has a little something for everyone.


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