Itihasa is a historical manga that doesn't seem to sure of its setting yet.

I feel as if we don’t get a lot of historical manga released here in the US, although Itihasa‘s setting is so unusual that I’m surprised that it was chosen to be brought over here after all!

Set a long time ago, Itihasa is a story about people in ancient Japan. Just when I couldn’t tell you; the story’s summary says 12,000 years ago (10,000 bce) but the characters seem to reference rising sea levels flooding the land bridges connecting Japan to Asia which I believe was closer to 14,000 bce. To make things even more confusing, a character compares the conflicts in Itihasa with those going on around the world; there is a stylized image of Greek warriors — which at it’s very earliest would have been only 3600 bce — and the Imperial Regalia of Japan appear. While those items are honestly very old (at least a thousand years old if not two and a half thousand) it feels weird that the story is bringing them up when this is clearly set much earlier.

I mention all of this for two reasons. One, it gives you an idea of how muddled the story is so far (if it can’t even agree on its dates) and two, I wonder if I’m fundamentally missing something as someone who is not familiar with Jomon-era Japanese history. The conflict so far is that a tribe of people who worship “unseen gods” are now being attacked by a troop of “visible gods” (sometimes also referred to as demons) and there are other followers of other visible gods who are trying to hunt down the visible gods murdering and stealing babies. I’m left wondering if this is a metaphor for Shintoism vs other religions (but again it’s set much too early for Buddhism, or any known religion in Ancient China) since it feels like it should be a metaphor, although the gods appear to be completely real and present as well.

Itihasa2

There are ancient traditions, babies with mysterious origins, magic, and multiple factions with ill-defined goals at this point, so it’s certainly not the most straightforward story. I’m a bit curious how it’s going to develop but the story has introduced way more ideas than it’s had time to back up at this point — not the greatest way to hook an audience! There are 15 volumes total and I’m not sure I can handle such a long, waffling story after this introduction.