The Journey of Shuna is a relatively unknown, little gem of a manga illustrated by master animator/director Miyazaki Hayao a whopping 26 years ago in 1983 – predating his first major manga/anime masterpiece Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind by a year.
The story tells the tale of Shuna, a teenage boy who must leave his impoverished home and travel to faraway lands in search of food to ensure the survival of his village. Both the story and characters from Shuna resemble a hybrid mix of those appearing in his later films Nausicaa, Princess Mononoke, and Tales of Earthsea (directed by his son Goro Miyazaki ). Shuna for example, looks like a cross between Asbel ( Nausicaa ) and Ashitaka ( Mononoke ), Thea like Nausicaa and San, even Ashitaka’s ride Yakkul appears exactly as he did in Princess Mononoke.
Technically speaking , Shuna is less of a manga and more a picture book because there are no dialogue balloons, and the image panels are large, with only 1 or 2 per page. Its also smaller than a regular tankoubon (単行本) manga, just about the size of a postcard.
The Journey of Shuna is painted in Miyazaki-san’s usual palette of gorgeous watercolors, vibrant but slighted muted with a sense of warm harmony, and very detailed backgrounds.