the cult manga “Rokudenashi Blues” returns to bookstores

Emblematic title of “fûryô”, a subgenre with big-hearted bandits, Rokudenashi Blues is back in France with a new edition that will be published this Wednesday, June 1st, by Pika Editions.

Formerly known in France as Blues Scumthe cult manga of the 1990s Rokudenashi Blues by Masanori Morita is again available in a new edition to be published this Wednesday, June 1st, by Pika Editions. An eagerly awaited return by fans of “fûryô”, a Japanese sub-genre that features bad guys.

First published in Japan on May 30, 1988 in the columns of Weekly Shonen Jump, Rokudenashi Blues has sold over 60 million copies worldwide. We follow the stories of love, friendship and honor of a band of high school students who often pick fists to earn respect.

Emblematic title of the second golden age of Shonen Jump in the 1980s and 1990s, Rokudenashi Blues contributed to the magazine’s revival alongside series such as Captain Tsubasa, Cat eye, Hokuto no Ken, Dragon sphere, Knights of the ZodiacJOjo’s Bizarre Adventure, dragon quest, Yu Yu Hakusho et Buried.

Realism and graphic exaggerations

“One can really imagine the merit that Rokudenashi Blues exist for almost ten years in this extremely competitive and demanding publishing ecosystem”, observes Ludovic Gottigny, specialist in the history of Shonen Jump and contributor to the specialized magazine otomobefore remembering that success was not instantaneous for Morita’s manga:

“It took between six months and a year for the series to establish itself, find its rhythm, its graphic balance and its own grammar, before it definitely exploded with the addition of colorful characters like Koheiji, then the Four Kings of Heaven arc, and the addition of of short humorous chapters in [style] ‘super deformed’, Rokudenashi Buruuchu.”

Without revolutionizing the “fûryô”, Rokudenashi Blues “It spurred a new direction for him, more realistic with regard to the daily lives of the young protagonists, if not in the combat phases”, closer to the classic shônens, analyzes Ludovic Gottigny. “An ambivalence found in a style that is both realistic but not immune to graphic exaggerations for humorous purposes.”

a manga leaf "Rokudenashi Blues" by Masanori Morita
A planche du manga “Rokudenashi Blues” by Masanori Morita © Pika

Former assistant to Tetsuo Hara (Hokuto no Ken), Morita won with Rokudenashi Blues then newbies (1998-2003) and Beshari Gurashi (2006) as a big name in the manga. Ludovic Gottigny particularly salutes “his slick graphic style, his visual humor and [sa] great ability to convey the impact of action.”

Fifteen years exhausted, Rokudenashi Blues owes its resurrection in France to a favorable context for the reissues of classic manga, and especially to the “fûryô”, a genre long neglected by the French, which has just achieved immense success in our territory with Tokyo avengers by Ken Wakui.

“If there’s so much buzz, it’s also because it’s a title that was missing from the French landscape,” says Mehdi Benrabah, Pika’s editorial director. “If people have claimed him, it’s also because he’s one of the last shonen in the world. To jump which was no longer available on the French market. It was my dream to publish it.”

Why did you wait so long to make this dream come true? “I always prioritized other titles that until then had greater potential than Rokudenashi Blues. We are talking about a 1988 title that in its normal edition has 42 volumes. It remains a challenge. You think twice before you start,” says Mehdi Benrabah.

The click took place in 2018 during the great exhibition dedicated to 50 years of Weekly Shonen Jump“When I saw the place given to Rokudenashi Blueswhich has been set at the same level as Yu Yu Hakusho, Buried, Yu-Gi-Oh!reinforced my desire to republish it in France.”

According to the publisher, the second French life of Rokudenashi Blues could only happen on Pika: “The ‘furyo’ never left the Pika catalog, whether with funny scum, GTO, Young GTO or the fable. We are all opportunists in publishing, but pressure from people, sorry, is relative to my work and my decisions.”

title change

On this occasion, Blues Scum resumed its Japanese name. “Once people know how to say Kaisen Jujutsu, Rokudenashi Blueswill fit,” says the editor. “And Blues Scum, it didn’t mean much. The word ‘scum’, very connoted with us, doesn’t apply to these guys, who are good for nothing with values.”

“It’s a choice that doesn’t shock me,” notes Ludovic Gottigny. “I really liked the name ‘Racaille Blues’, which was very well found staying true to the Japanese title, but I understand Pika’s desire to stand out from the previous edition.” But he regrets the retranslation, which erases the excess of dialogue from the original edition:

“‘Over the top’, at times, she perfectly reproduced in her language level the attitudes, elocution and extravagances of the characters, as well as certain fundamental geographic nuances in the understanding of narrative issues”, he evaluates.

Despite the scarcity of paper, Pika editions offer an elegant and widely circulated edition. “We believe that this edition lives up to expectations. We put our heart into it,” insists Mehdi Benrabah. A volume comes out every two months. 25 are planned in total.

Despite the scarcity of paper, Pika editions offer an elegant and widely circulated edition. “We believe this edition lives up to expectations. We retranslated everything, we rewrote everything. We put our heart into it,” insists Mehdi Benrabah. A volume comes out every two months. 25 are planned in total.

a manga leaf "Rokudenashi Blues" by Masanori Morita
A planche du manga “Rokudenashi Blues” by Masanori Morita © Pika

But one detail has already irritated fans: the presence of a single color page in the reissue, still announced as the final one. A non-issue, believes Mehdi Benrabah, visibly still shaken by the many criticisms that have been posted on the subject on social media:

“We were based on an existing edition in Japan, ‘bunko’, which is a pocket format. We chose to put it in a more elegant and enlarged case. We had other design ideas that are not in the bunko edition, but the only color material we had access to was this ‘bunko’ edition. End of story!”

The publisher invites fans of Rokudenashi Blues on Twitter to go to bookstores. “I hope these people who have put in a lot of effort are also in stores. I really hope so. Because obviously we wouldn’t want to stop at Rokudenashi Blues. All of Morita’s work interests me.”

Half of his work remains unpublished in France. And Morita is working on a new series that mixes thriller and horror, “which he has fantasized about for several years, that he wants to be more ambitious, serious and realistic than his previous titles, probably inspired by that by his best enemy. [le mangaka Takehiko] Inoue”, concludes Ludovic Gottigny.

Rokudenashi Blues, Masanori Morita (screenplay and drawing), Pascale Simon (translation), Pika Masterpiece, 340 pages, 16 euros. 25 volumes planned. Published every two months.

Leave a Comment