First, a quick introduction! My name is Elle, I live in the UK and own the largest English-speaking fan forum for Ginga (Silver Fang) series fans.
How did you discover the Silver Fang – The Shooting Star Gin – (Ginga Nagareboshi Gin)?
My first introduction to Ginga Nagareboshi Gin (GNG) was seeing a clip of the anime adaptation by accident on Youtube around 2006. The thing that drew me in was simply how distanced it was to the media I was used to seeing involving dogs. It was so dramatic, violent… just so COOL I had to know what it was! So, I looked it up and inevitably found images of the manga.
The drawing style of the dog characters especially was so completely different from anything else I had seen before. Finding those images was actually my very first introduction to Japanese manga! The way Takahashi-sensei draws dogs is so completely unique and instantly recognisable, and I loved his use of multiple real dog breeds. So, I went down the internet rabbit hole – as you do – and one of the top searches for the manga at that time was a website called Gingasite (now defunct). I joined their forum community called Ginga Board, took over as admin in 2010, then full ownership in 2017. Ginga continues to be a huge part of my life and my main collecting hobby – I’ve even been fortunate enough to have travelled to Finland twice to meet Yoshihiro Takahashi at convention events, where his multiple Ginga series have been published outside of Japan.
What do you love about the Ginga Series?
The main reason I love the series boils down to how unique and different it is from what I’ve grown up reading. My country does not share the same hunting history, so the Akita Inu breed and the “bear hound” concept was new to me at the time; therefore the historical aspect was appealing to me too. I found myself really wanting to learn about the Japanese dog breeds, the bushido coding layered throughout the storytelling about fighting and loyalty, oh and the ninja factions… But they’re DOGS! How could you turn down a story that has ninja dogs? It’s interesting, gritty, visually appealing – it just ticks a lot of boxes for me.
My favourite character is the protagonist, Gin the Akita Inu, and my second reason for loving the series is all because of him. Being interested in why the breed appeared to be so revered in this story led me to other similar tales of the bravery and loyalty of bear dogs in Japan. I love the series both by itself as an epic story of war and fighting for what is right, but also for the knowledge it has led me to about how special Japan’s dogs are. That is not a unique experience in the fandom either! During the manga, the main dog characters travel throughout Japan to gather warriors for their war effort against Akakabuto. In doing so we get to see different dog breeds from different areas of Japan, including Kai Ken (new readers will need to wait for their introduction!). It is because of these characters that one of our forum members researched the breed, which led him to eventually owning a Kai Ken named Akiko. She is now the only Kai in the UK and is our “real life” Silver Fang mascot!
Lastly, my one true love of this series… is the collectability of the manga and the anime merchandise. At the time I discovered Ginga for myself, I really wanted physical copies to call my own, which of course I had to import from Japan as no English copy exists. But, there was more than one printed edition… Well, I needed to have them all, obviously! Thus my addiction to collecting this niche dog manga started. The collecting side of the fandom is huge and very prideful in making sure every item available is recorded in detail, and it would be amazing to add physical English copies next to the Japanese and Finnish editions… No pressure Manga Planet…!
What was your first reaction to the news of Silver Fang – The Shooting Star Gin- being licensed in English?
I first saw the translation announcement in a retweet on Twitter, and I couldn’t believe it – I remember jumping onto my computer and checking to make sure it was real! The English-speaking fanbase has always been very small in comparison to mainstream titles; much of the fanbase outside of Japan come from Nordic countries with similar bear hunting history, who grew up with dubs of the anime available. My hopes of the manga being picked up for English translation slowly died away over the years as we became quite self-efficient as a community, settled into the fact there just wasn’t enough of us to make it viable. Enter Manga Planet…!
Once the news broke it was wonderful to see people excited for it. As a long-term fan, it doesn’t matter that I already know how the story goes, being able to read it officially is just wonderful, and like I’m discovering the story all over again. – I look forward to reading each chapter every Thursday over my morning coffee.
What are you looking forward to the most in the English version?
This is a tricky one because I’m already so incredibly grateful a translation is even happening. As I’ve mentioned, a printed edition would be the absolute dream if the series gets enough traction. As far as future Yoshihiro Takahashi English translations… there’s no shortage of stories! Anything from his back catalogue of Ginga sequels, Gaidens, or other stories at this point would be very gratefully received by the existing fans.
Why do you think people should read Silver Fang – The Shooting Star Gin-?
If you enjoy animal novels like Watership Down, Redwall, or Warriors, then this is the manga for you. It is a detailed story built from Gin the bear dog’s training and life with humans, before he leaves home and travels with an army of wild dogs hell-bent on defeating the terrifying demon bear Akakabuto. In their quest to gather more warriors for their cause, each new area of Japan provides new characters with their own backstories, warlords, and conflicts that need resolving with just the right amount of violence… all the good stuff to expect from a shonen series!
About the Ginga Board Forum – http://www.gingaboard.com/
Ginga Board is the largest English-speaking fan forum for Ginga fans. We have members from all over Europe, USA, Japan, and everywhere in between! The forum has been an integral part of keeping up to date with the Ginga series (now into its 4thth sequel) and fact-finding to do with the manga and associated merchandise. Plus all the usual discussions you can expect from a fan forum like character discussion, plot discussions, general reviews, and opinions (the good and the bad!) you name it, it gets talked about here.
The Silver Fang Network – http://www.silverfannetwork.com/
This network is a collection of fan sites that help new and old readers get the most they can out of the Ginga fandom. From here you can find resources such as the direct link to the new translation at Manga Planet, Ginga Board, Ginga Wiki, and my personal favourite as a collector is GingaMerch – an information archive of every single licensed Ginga publication and associated merchandise.
About Silver Fang – The Shooting Star Gin –
In the snowy mountains of Akita, Daisuke and his parents manage a skiing ground. Daisuke grows up with great tales of bear hunter Gohee Takeda and his bear hounds, among them their skirmish with the dangerous Akakabuto, a great bear that’s terrorizing the mountains.
On the day old man Takeda decides to hunt for Akakabuto again with his loyal bear hound, Riki is the day a rare brindle puppy was born. Daisuke names the pup “Gin,” and thus begins a pup’s journey to being a great bear hound.
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About Manga Planet: Read manga, support artists
In 2012, Manga Planet started as a joint project between Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd. and FANTASISTA, INC. to research and explore the ways manga is read throughout the world. Aiming to bring new manga to fans from all over the world and support artists and the industry, Manga Planet pushes for affordability and access to manga through a subscription-based service.
Readers who subscribe to Manga Planet and pay a flat monthly fee of $6.99 will have access to our expanding library of English-language manga. By the end of 2020, subscribers will have unlimited access to at least 500 titles. To subscribe, please go to read.mangaplanet.com and create an account. More information is in our Guide.