By AZUSA USHIO/ Staff Writer
January 1, 2023 at 07:00 JST
A self-published manga by an amateur cartoonist in Japan themed on a mythical Ukrainian jet fighter hotshot is now all the rage in war-torn Ukraine.
The pilot, dubbed the “Ghost of Kyiv” for shooting down multiple enemy aircraft following Russia’s invasion of the neighboring country, created a huge stir on social media.
Although the hero is fictional, the manga is also proving popular elsewhere and plans are in the cards for it to be published in the United States.
Eponymously titled “The Ghost of Kyiv,” the 16-page comic book features a “ghostly” Ukrainian air force pilot who lines up Russian fighter jets from behind as they penetrate the skies over Ukraine and brings down every one of them.
It was created by Juko Matsuda, a fanzine artist living in Hanno, Saitama Prefecture, who is known as Matsuda HI (Heavy Industries) outside Japan.
When he posted an entry on Twitter in April to introduce his work, it immediately went viral on social media.
Viktor Kruglov, 52, president of Ranok Publishing House in Kharkiv province, northeastern Ukraine, decided to publish the comic after seeing it shared by his colleagues on a work chat.
He had no idea how to contact Matsuda, but when he approached the Ukrainian ambassador to Japan through Facebook, the diplomat served as a mediator and helped the company publish the manga.
The Ukrainian edition of “The Ghost of Kyiv” was released with an initial print run of 25,000 copies, while the English version had a print run of 5,000 copies.
The comic made the bestseller lists after it became available at 182 bookstores in Ukraine as well as some outlets in Poland and Germany.
Ranok hopes to sell 100,000 copies of the comic, an unprecedented number for Ukraine, according to the president.
The publisher also released the Ukrainian edition of “Chonker of Donetsk,” another work by Matsuda.
The manga artist expressed surprise at all the attention he is receiving with a tweet posted Dec. 11 asking, “What’s going on?” It was accompanied by a photo of an autograph signed by Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, commander-in-chief of the Ukraine’s armed forces, on the back of the front cover of “The Ghost of Kyiv.”
Matsuda found the image on Instagram, and learned that the autographed comic was being auctioned to raise funds for the Ukrainian military.
Matsuda’s tweet attracted numerous comments and nearly 4,000 likes.
“One year ago, I couldn’t even imagine seeing the Ukrainian military’s commander-in-chief signing his autograph in a copy of my manga,” he added.
The comic generated an even bigger response after reports appeared in Japan detailing how it came to be published in Ukraine.
“The Ghost of Kyiv” became a trending topic on Twitter on Dec. 8. An online shopping website of a bookstore that handles the Japanese edition of the manga was so inundated with orders, it temporarily became inaccessible.
Sales of just 100 copies are usually regarded as a sign of success among fanzine creators.
In the case of “The Ghost of Kyiv,” it immediately went out of stock and additional copies had to be printed to keep up with demand.
On top of that, Matsuda got word from Ranok via the person who translated the comic into Ukrainian that the company wanted to pitch the manga in the United States.
“I never thought things would end up causing such a hubbub. I felt it was extraordinary,” the artist said. “I just drew a manga. I’m glad it has attracted the attention of those who are usually not interested in military matters.”
Visit this page for the latest news on Japan’s battle with the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Cooking experts, chefs and others involved in the field of food introduce their special recipes intertwined with their paths in life.
Here is a collection of first-hand accounts by “hibakusha” atomic bomb survivors.
The Asahi Shimbun aims “to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls” through its Gender Equality Declaration.
Let’s explore the Japanese capital from the viewpoint of wheelchair users and people with disabilities with Barry Joshua Grisdale.