JOAN is one of those books I just picked up on a whim. I hadn't really heard much about it before; it kind of slipped under my radar when it preceded the recent Japanese manga explosion here in the states by a good year and a half. What originally caught my attention was the beautifully understated cover, but once I flipped it open, it was a no-brainer. I've never seen a manga book rendered quite like this before.
The author, Yoshikazu Yasuhiko, comes from an animation background and it's apparent from the first panel. JOAN Book One, the first of the three volumes, takes place after the death of Joan of Arc during the final throes of the Hundred Years War in fifteenth century France. Emil is a young girl who's been raised as a man by the same knight that once trained Joan, and she takes up the battle to preserve the throne of King Charles VII and ensure the unification of France against a power-mad prince. The kicker is that she's guided by visions coming from Joan herself, either an act of holy inspiration or sheer insanity.
JOAN is without a doubt the most cinematic offering I've seen in Japanese comics to date. Compiled with Americanized storytelling and pacing, standard left-to-right reading and absolutely gorgeous watercolors, you won't find a more accessible Japanese comic book on the market. This is the book for people who say they don't like manga.
Peter Aaron Rose is a writer, producer and technologist who lives and works in San Francisco, CA. Under the pseudonym "Peter Siegel", he recently authored Killing Demons, a graphic novel available from Engine Press and Platinum Studios.