This post is part of the 30 Day Manga Challenge series. Day 5: A Manga That Deserves More Recognition
Hiroaki Samura’s manga is fairly well-known outside of Japan. Titles like Blade of the Immortal, Die Wergelder, and Ohikkoshi can be found in bookstores around the world. But if you’re looking for one of his lesser-known works, you might have to head to Russia.
Originally printed in Manga Erotics F from 2013 to 2014, Harukaze no Snegurochka 「春風のスネグラチカ」 is another stunning entry in Samura’s catalog of historical drama. In 2017, publishing house Alt Graph translated the manga to Russian, marking its only official release outside of the Japanese market.
Snegurochka, The Snow Maiden
Harukaze no Snegurochka is a single-volume narrative that gives us a glimpse into the tempestuous atmosphere of the 1930s Soviet Union. During this time, the newly formed political system was still in its infancy. But as fascism started to spread in Europe, leaders of the Communist Party took drastic actions to weed out any signs of counter-revolutionaries.
It’s around this pivotal point in history that Samura introduces his characters. A steadfast young woman named Belka, presumably of the former aristocracy, and her servant, Shchenok, are on the run. As they seek shelter in an abandoned mansion, they’re ambushed by the OGPU, the Soviet secret police. What happens next is a whirlwind of deception, political manipulation, and resilience in the face of adversary.
Hiroaki Samura is a powerful storyteller. His handling of dialog and pacing lends itself well in depicting particularly tense moments, such as Shchenok’s violent interrogation scene during the second chapter.
The artwork throughout Harukaze no Snegurochka is top-notch. Samura takes great care in drawing his characters, capturing every detail and nuanced expression with ease. In many panels, he places characters in stark locations, mimicking the sense of isolation felt by Belka and Shchenok as they navigate the world on their own.
Like yesterday’s post, this is another title I hope will someday make its North American debut. In the meantime, if you’re interested in checking out Harukaze no Snegurochka, copies are available (in Japanese) on Amazon Japan.