Queen Emeraldas is written in a poetic style Delving deep into emotion, honor, friendship and personal insight, Leiji Matsumoto takes us on a journey through the stars with striking starlit pages and eloquent verse. The world of space pirates melds with a bit of the old west in volume two. Emeraldas finds herself in two old towns with the quintessential saloon and brazen cowboy who is hell bent on proving his bravado. These two worlds blend well as they both have honor codes and obvious villains.
We see a softer side of Emeraldas in this volume. She befriends and protects a small statured mystery man that protests anyone’s assistance. Emeraldas respects this man for the arduous life she believes he has endured. Emeraldas also comes to the aid of Hiroshi Umino (remember him from volume 1?), he is back and still as hard headed as before. These are the actions of a different Emeraldas. She has always fought for what is just but this goes beyond that to reveal her genuine kindness and compassion. She forges relationships with these two that deeply affect her.
Matsumoto has a talent for making black and white as vivid as any color drawing. The details and movement keep you swept up in the story and unleash your imagination. I am still amazed at his ability to capture light and reflection. Each dial and metallic panel has an obvious sheen in the various ships we encounter throughout volume two. My only downside to the art in this volume is the abundance of skulls and crossbones. Emeraldas has one on her head, two on her holster, one on her chest, her gloves and on a pin for her cloak. It’s a bit of overkill. I think one to two Jolly Rogers would be quite enough to portray that she is a pirate.
There are bonus features in volume two which I think fans will enjoy. The first is an interview with Matsumoto from 2009. The interview, while old, is very informative. Matsumoto talks about his inspiration for Emeraldas and the type of women he wanted to represent. Matsumoto also shares how his friendships have shaped many of his characters. There is a great deal of information about the art and his process as well.
Along with the interview, two short stories have been added to the end of volume two. The first (actually titled “Short Story #3”) pairs Emeraldas with Captain Harlock, one of Matsumoto’s earlier storylines. This story takes place on Earth and the ships seem to be blimps more so than space dwelling vessels. I found this story to be a bit crude for my liking — there were quite few booger jokes and a heavy emphasis on hooking up. Also Emeraldas and Harlock are bitter enemies and then suddenly flying off in the sunset together. All in all not a big fan of #3; it does not do justice to the elegance of the original. “Short Story #4” returned us to space and followed some of the earlier themes of honor and friendship. I was more impressed with this one.
Did I like it? Matsumoto’s Queen Emeraldas combines beautiful imagery with a prose like narrative.