Announcing the arrival of volume 4 of a manga isn’t usually the kind of announcement we write about on Comics Beat, but in the case of Dark Horse’s upcoming release of slice-of-life/science fiction series Emanon vol. 4 by Shinji Kajio and Kenji Tsuruta, it’s an event mostly because it’s something that’s been promised to readers since 2020. Volume 4 of Emanon will debut in English on September 5, 2023, preceded by reprints of Emanon vol. 1-3 on August 22.

Emanon vol. 4 by Shinji Kajio and Kenji Tsuruta, published by Dark Horse

Emanon is the story of a young woman, a “hippy chick” that a young man meets by chance on an overnight ferry to Kyushu in 1967. They spend the night talking, and he finds out that Emanon (“no name” backwards) is no ordinary girl. While her body is 17 years old, she has seen and remembers everything that has happened, from the dawn of life on Earth.

from Emanon vol. 1, Emanon describes her memories.
From Emanon vol. 1, Emanon describes her memories

Tsuruta, the creator of other Dark Horse-published titles including Wandering Island and Spirit of Wonder is a fan-favorite for his gorgeous, lyrical graphic storytelling that captures detail and emotion masterfully. In Emanon, Tsuruta takes readers on a journey through the backroads, small towns and cities of Japan in a way that’s both nostalgic and magical. There’s a fair amount of nudity, so it’s not for the kiddies, but it’s otherwise a gentle, thought-provoking story that asks readers to consider the meaning of time, memory, legends, lies and humanity’s role on Earth. Sounds deep, I know! But Emanon is a pleasurable read for grown-ups, and one of manga’s unsung masterpieces.

Back in 2019, the first volume of Emanon debuted in May, followed by volume 2 in August, then vol. 3 in November… and now almost four years later, Emanon vol. 4 will finally be released in English in September.

Emanon to be continued page from vol 3 - a family walking together

In the afterword of Emanon vol. 3, editor Carl Horn mentioned that “Emanon is currently a 4-volume series in Japan,” but also added that “when we originally got the rights to publish Emanon in English, only 3 volumes had been completed, so naturally the fourth wasn’t part of the deal.” But he also promised that “we’re currently pursuing it now, and hopefully, we can have it out later in 2020.”

But then along came March 2020, and things like a global pandemic, followed by paper and printer shortages largely due to pandemic-related supply chain disruptions. In the three years since, manga sales have enjoyed explosive growth in North America. So it’s maybe understandable that there’s been a gap of several years since the last volume of Emanon was published.

Given that the main character of this story is all about showing that time is relative, perhaps a wait of a few years is blink of an eye. But to make up for it, and to bring new readers up to speed with this beautifully drawn story, Dark Horse is reprinting Emanon Volumes 1-3, and has them scheduled to return to bookstore and comics shop shelves on August 22, 2023. You can read Emanon Volumes 1-3 from Dark Horse Digital too.

Emanon (おもいでエマノン, Omoide Emanon) was originally a science fiction novel, first written by Kajio in 1983, followed by Emanon Wanderer (さすらいエマノン, Sasurai no Emanon) in 1992. Kajio was introduced to manga creator Tsuruta in 2000 by Shuichi Ono, the editor of SF Japan, a science fiction quarterly magazine. Tsuruta created illustrations for Emanon for the magazine, which led to talks about a full manga adaptation of this series, which was serialized in Tokuma Shoten’s Comic RYU magazine.

Emanon Volume 1 is a standalone story that introduces readers to Emanon, as she meets a young man on an overnight ferry ride and explains who she is, and why she seems so wise beyond her years. Then Emanon Volume 2 starts the adaptation of the second book in the 7-book Emanon novel series, Emanon Wanderer, a manga adaptation that’s completed (presumably) in 3 volumes with Volume 4.

Here’s Dark Horse’s description of what’s to come in Emanon Volume 4:

Emanon is strange even for an immortal—a person with a mind over three billion years old, her consciousness endlessly migrating from new body to new body over the entire history of life’s evolution on Earth. Emanon Vol. 4 tells the story of her existence in that odd decade, the 1980s, as Emanon’s latest incarnation grows from a grade schooler who seeks to conceal her intelligence, to a teen trying to avoid a relationship with the superhuman classmate pursuing her, to a young adult facing the death from old age of her best friend Hikari—a mortal time-jumper whose own life has crossed that of Emanon many times in the past, and will do so again many times in the future…but who dies at last in the here and now.

Here’s a preview of a few pages from Emanon Volume 4, courtesy of Dark Horse:

Emanon Volume 4: Emanon Wanderer Part Three trade paperback will be available in comic shops September 6, 2023 and bookstores September 5, 2023. It is available for pre-order now on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and at your local comic shop and book store. It will retail for $14.99.