Shuuten Unknown by Sugiura Shiho

Shuuten Unknown

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After spending almost ten years following the adventures of Rakan and Chigusa in Silver Diamond, I was lost when it came to an end. I followed the manga from the beginning and it was hard imagining the hobby without it. And then I saw the first images of Sugiura Shiho’s new manga, Shuuten Unknown (Last Stop Unknown). I learned to let go and embrace the excitement of seeing your favorite mangaka present a brand new setting and characters. We’re in for another fantastic ride.

The story starts with a treasure buried deep in the mountains. Two rival groups show up to claim the treasure, ready to kill any in their way. However, only a single member from each side survives the treacherous landslides to claim the prize. When they make a grab for it…

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Good job, guys! You broke it.

The treasure cleanly snaps in two, leaving a piece in each man’s hand. Rumored to be worthless unless you have the whole thing, this is a problem. Each man is desperate to return the treasure to their respective group, so they try to kill each other. Their struggles cause an avalanche and as they plummet to an impending death, the treasures react and encase them in a protective cocoon. They float safely to the ground, but something is wrong.

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The treasure fused to their arms–in a garish, embarrassing manner.

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You have to admit it makes for some fine illustrations though.

They soon realize they can’t take off the gauntlets, making it difficult to take the other half from their rival.

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So it’s back to killing each other! Except that isn’t going too well.

They can’t hurt each other–the treasure blocks any incoming attacks. They can’t even go very far from the other. The gauntlets pull them back together. So the two men are stuck together, despite the fact they don’t get along at all, don’t trust each other, and are both searching for a way to trick or kill the other.

Between these two guys, Sugiura Shiho shows off her ability to make sympathetic characters. The blonde man needs the treasure to barter for his freedom. The collar on his neck signifies that he’s property of his boss, who regularly buys abandoned children and uses them as disposable pawns. He doesn’t want to live with the indignity of being a slave and wants to rid himself of the collar at any cost. Of the two rivals, he’s the calculating, cynical one. He’s calm and clinical with his thoughts and actions, trusting no one. He’s sharp and a smooth talker, quick to manipulate a situation to his favor.

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I love her profiles. Angular faces, long necks with noticeable Adam’s apples, messily swept up hair, slitted eyes peering from behind glasses… I can’t get enough of her character designs.

The other man is about the same age and also a pawn of a large group. However, he’s grateful to his boss because the boss tolerated his existence when no one else in the world noticed him.  So he wants to bring back the treasure to prove his worth. Both men are essentially treated as property, but have very different views about their situation. This man is loyal to an undeserving boss. He’s also more emotional and volatile. His actions are more spontaneous and reckless, making him unpredictable. His black hair stands out and signifies he’s from the eastern lands like the rest of his group.

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He has the long, messy hair look.

After nearly being killed from survivors of both factions, the men learn that they were never meant to return alive and now have nowhere to go. They are alone with no money, supplies, or food. So they fall back to what they understand best–thievery and trickery.

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“We’re both shit, right? You and me.” “Yeah, so let’s search for a house to rob.”

The blonde still needs the gauntlets for his freedom, so they plan to sell them and then he’ll sneak back later and steal them back. However, the plan is halted when they learn there’s no easy way to remove the gauntlets. The treasure was originally a type of form-fitting accessory for the rich, but the techniques to make (and remove) them are mostly forgotten. The item’s tendency to tighten and cut off arm circulation made most abandon it, but there might be some knowledgeable craftsman left many, many towns away. It looks like the boys are going to have to get comfortable with each other as they have a long distance to travel together.

Their initial character development is similar to Chigusa in the beginning of Silver Diamond. They don’t know how to trust others, they are solitary in nature, and they are troubled and have no sense of self-worth. However, their interactions with each other and other people start to erode at this harshness and nurture a more empathetic, human side. At least when they’re not fighting.. actually, the bickering seems to help a lot! At the end of the fourth chapter, they finally learn each others’ names, closing that gap just a bit more.

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Sayatoki (left) and Yoruma (right). They have complicated looks on their faces because they were just rewarded with food and money after inadvertently helping an old lady they intended to rob.

By the end of the first volume, it’s apparent we’re in for another engaging adventure from Sugiura Shiho. She’s always been talented at world-building and lore, so I’m curious to see what’s ahead. The art (and the men) are beautiful, with little recognizable bits and pieces from her past characters. We can already see the characters develop as they struggle being on their own, away from their bosses. It looks like they’re starting to realize they might not be alone in their predicament. A common theme in her manga is characters bringing out the best in each other and this manga will certainly follow that tradition. They’re a little more feisty than Rakan and Chigusa and like to butt heads, so it should be a fun ride. Even though we had to say goodbye to Silver Diamond, the future looks promising with Shuuten Unknown!

9 responses to “Shuuten Unknown by Sugiura Shiho

  1. So the whole volume is kinda like a prologue to the series? I wanna buy it next time I’m going to order manga for sure. I did like Silver Diamond, but I’ve read less than half of it, since…. wel, let’s just say that buying 30 volumes is a bit too much for me. I have absolutely no room for books in my room anymore, I hope we’ll move to a bigger apartment soon.

    Looks really interesting at first glance. I wonder if the series is going to go on smoothly, remembering all the times when she was on hiatus with Silver Diamond if I’m not mistaken (?). Is there any info if it’s going to be long or not?

    • It’s not really a prologue–that’s just how it develops. Things are happening and moving forward during the whole first volume. They just don’t have any consideration for each other until the end.

      I don’t recall any significant periods of hiatus for Silver Diamond. Tanks came out fairly regularly. I don’t really remember, but she might have tweeted that it’s not going to be as long as Silver Diamond or anything. Avarus doesn’t really do that length either.

  2. I’ve read the first chapter of this and I’ve felt the allure of the story already just from that alone. It just appeals to you in a way that makes you want to keep reading more and I’m glad to learn that later chapters help to reinforce this. I haven’t read Silver Diamond but it’s on my to-get list!

  3. I actually came upon your blog when I was looking for any updates on Shuuten Unknown.. I liked how you presented your review on the manga..

    I am a fan of Sugiura Shiho and, like you, it was also difficult for me to let go of Silver Diamond when it ended until I read the first chapter of Shuuten Unknown.. When I saw it, I thought: “Tohji and Chigusa, in appearance, just moved on to become the leads in another story.” (as if they were actors in real life! hahaha.)

    Unfortunately, I was not able to find the second chapter up to the fourth, which comprised the entire volume 1. In addition, I can’t even find raws online. TT-TT. I SOOOO envy you for being able to read the entire volume.

  4. Pingback: My Precious – Shuuten Unknown print signed by Sugiura Shiho | the manga habit

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