The idea for this list came while talking to a friend about history novels. She was pointing out that history books can be fascinating if done in manga format and thus, I set off, looking for some fun recommendations. Well, not all of them have bishonen characters (sorry, good buddy) but two of three is not bad.
Me and the Devil Blues
Alright, in all honesty this manga is more about music or a real-life character in a certain music genre. If I were to refine it some more, I would say this was a strange autobiography … of sorts. Actually, seems like the guys behind this was heavily influenced by stories about Blues legend, Robert Johnson. Think of it as a fantastical take on a real-life icon; don't believe a word of it but enjoy one of the weirdest urban legends about this fantastic music genre. What stood out for this manga was the art style. For me, the shading styles and the use of light and shadow made the manga stand out as much as the crazy little story. Both of these elements enhances the mood which is certainly relevant in a supernatural tale like this one.
We might have to do the same for this one as well. As the title suggests, this manga is heavily influenced by the life of Siddhartha, the man who later becomes known as Buddha. Admittedly, this story is also the manga author's own interpretations of Buddha's life. Thus, while there are a number of facts that stay true to known stories about this famous figure, there are also quite a bit of made up bits. I was not so convinced about the art work for this one; it was a bit too rounded for my liking. Then again, it also seemed like the artist had added in art styles of Indian comic artists so it was perhaps paying tribute to the various settings of the story.
Now for a touch of the weird and wonderful. This manga revolves around the real-life figure, Ludwig II of Bavaria. He is quite a colorful character, a bit of a dreamer, who left behind an interesting legacy. Well, once you realize that beautiful architecture and music were his main passions, you know the manga will be a good read. As it is, folks will fall in love with the manga's artwork; the castles in the background, the costumes, the use of black and red colors to create mood …. yes, this is definitely one of the must-have historical novels. In fact, the story has numerous shojo elements (angst, loyalty, love) which makes it stand even more.
I hope this counts as the type of historical manga my friend was looking for. Vinland Saga is an action packed manga about the Viking folks who came to England. It contains a number of historical facts of the time (including battle for power, rivalry, plenty of bloody fights). Thus the story itself is fascinating. Where art is concerned, it is good. Personally, I prefer Ludwig II's style but in this case, I do love the way different landscapes were presented. Having said that, the portrayal of characters remind me a little bit of the type you find in RPG games. Perhaps it is the storyline that makes me think this way? Or the occasional outfit that looks just a bit … Link-ish?