What is a Gun Frontier?
So The Rabbit Reich is scanlating this early Seventies manga from Leiji Matsumoto…What is it? Why should you read it?
Well, the first thing to say about it is that it’s a standalone work within the Leijiverse. If you’re looking to be enlightened as to the Arcadia or the Galaxy Express then you’re going to be disappointed. If you want to enjoy something without worrying about backstories and complications, then you’ll be pleased.
The story revolves around two cowboys in the Wild West (Harlock and Tochiroh) and the adventures they meet while in the company of a beautiful blonde named Shinunora. So are Harlock and Tochiroh related to the spacefaring pirates? Are they simply the same characters in a different dimension? Actually, both of the theories are somewhat true.
Matsumoto likes to relate all of his characters by blood, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that cowboy Harlock, for example, is a direct ancestor of Space Pirate Captain Harlock. All it means is that both of these men descend from the famous Harlock Germanic clan of ancient times. At the same time, it is clear that these cowboys have essentially the same personalities as the space pirates, except fot two points:
1) Harlock is happier, talks more and is way less “dark” all around. In this sense, the Harlock of Gun Frontier stands at the pole opposite of his counterpart in Endless Odyssey, which as pollywantsaharlock puts it so well, is practically suicidal.
2) Tochiroh is alive (this is a big, big point! as he’s already dead in most Matsumoto tales) and he’s the protagonist of the series. This means that we will see more easily and intimately into the heart of Matsumoto, as Tochiroh’s personality is closer to the Real Matsumoto whereas Harlock is his Ideal. I’ve heard it stated, but can’t confirm, that this is the very first work in which a Tochiroh and a Harlock are together, so that in itself is a treat!
With regards to the plot, the only thing I will say is that there is one and that it’s quite elaborate although it takes time to figure that out. At the same time, this is probably the most comedic of Leiji’s manga and one of his sexiest. There are laughs and lustful scenes in every chapter.
One of the funniest things about the story (maybe unintentionally) is the treatment of the Old West. The West here is almost impossibly lawless, and each town seems to be pretty much independent of all the rest. In order to give flavor to the Westerners’ lingo, Matsumoto uses several variants of the Kansai dialect, which is appropriate if only because Kansai is in the West of Japan! In the scanlation, of course, this has been translated into cowboy-slang-peppered English. And the action is rude, very, very rude…
Gun Frontier is Matsumoto’s poetic name for the Old West itself, but Leiji fans will recall that other series like Galaxy Express 999 and Cosmo Warrior Zero include the name. The notion behind it is of a romantic, sometimes ill-fated but always heroic independent lifestyle…