Synonyms: The Stratocracy of Altair, Shokoku no Altair, Türkiyeli Alnaşr Altair, Altair ve Savaşlar Kitabı, Anastasia no Shinei Taichou, Anastasia's Captain of the Guard, Rising Eagle of the General Nation
For generations the Turkiye Devleti and the Balt-Rhein Empire have stood in stern opposition to each other. Then one night, when an imperial minister is found assassinated, the two nations are plunged into a potentially explosive situation. As the generals of Turkiye's council cry for war, Mahmut comes to discover the devious truth behind the assassination. Thus the young pasha's battle for his country, peace, and trust in his fellow man begins!
Volume 4: Anastasia no Shinei Taichou (Anastasia's Captain of the Guard)
The historical genre of manga has focused (almost exclusively) on China (particularly the three kingdoms period), Japan (around the Sengoku period) and Europe up to the late renaissance (though the Japanese authors tend to insert hot springs, panties and random modern or uniquely japanese appliances into some of the more light-hearted evolutions of this genre). Shokoku no Altair departs from this traditional theatre and brings us instead to the Ottoman Empire, once the greatest power in the Mediterranean and an empire that lasted well into the 20th century. Shokoku no Altair is, at the root of it, a shounen manga, but brings a
fresh face to semihistorical manga through a new setting and a promising plot.
The intentionally thinly-veiled nation of Turkeye (I will not bother typing up the accents, though I assume that it is read as Turkey anyway) represents the Ottoman Empire--but not the Ottoman Empire at its peak. A stratocracy ruled by military generals, Pashas, Turkeye is faced with the threat of the growing Baltein Empire (a reference to the Ottoman Empire`s Archrival, the Austrian Holy Roman Empire of the Hapsburgs), which is aggressively expanding and escalating tensions with Turkeye. The Stratocracy is divided between the War Hawks (led by the young Pasha Zaganos Zehir) and the Doves (led by the aged Pasha Khalil Sehir). Into this is placed Mahmut Tughril (Referred to more often as Mahmut Bey), the main character and one of the youngest Pasha to ascend to the General`s Council. Demoted from the council, Mahmut Bey travels through the nations of the Mediterranean (Phoenicia, the representation of Greece, and Venedik, the representation of the thousand-year Venetian Republic), learning more about the world outside of Turkeye and the expanding might of Baltein all the way. 19 Chapters in, we`ve seen at least one war, a few battles and a lot of political maneuvering. Shokoku no Altair so far has served to be an interesting look at politics, a look into the 17th century world of the Mediterranean and a fresh look at the Middle ages from a new perspective.
Perhaps it is the quality of the scans (which in no way I blame on the translators), but the main weakness of Shokoku no Altair is the art. At many points, the mangaka seems to take exceptional care with dra wing eyes, to the point that they seem way to delicate. While I cannot say that the art is bad, it simply isn`t to my taste. Yet, there is quite a bit of attention to detail, though there are few inconsistencies (as the translator notes, the Temple to the Water Goddess in Venedik is in fact filled with Christian Imagery when Shokoku no Altair does its utmost to keep religion outside of the story. Given, this is necessary as christianity has dominated European culture for most of the time period, and this is hardly a plot hole a casual observer would notice, so it detracts little from the story), but there is nothing bad per se about the art.
The characterization of the characters in Shokoku no Altair vary from excellent to shallow. While some characters are implied to have far more depth (there is a suggestion that the friendly Pasha Khalil is not quite the happy santa claus he makes himself out to be, and the development of Mahmut Bey continues, there are characters that seem to have been abandoned by the author, such as the Magistros of Venedik, Constantinos, whose considerable role in the second volume ends abruptly. Overall, though, the main characters are always kept in perspective, and I do look forwards to whatever else comes up.
=Enjoyment / Overall (8)=
Overall, I really like Shokoku no Altair. As a fan of historical manga and not simply the traditional Three Kingdoms / Sengoku / castle and princess manga (that, as good as some of them are, get really repetitive really fast, something Dynasty Warriors and Koei have yet to realize), Altair brought a fresh note to the genre and provides a slightly more realistic view of historical politics. Moreover, Altair is not as uniculutural as the average historical manga, with a great deal of depth put into describing the nations already visited. Though the translation is slow, I would say that Shokoku no Altair is more than well worth the read.
This story is based on actual historical facts and even some characters are based in historical figures. The art is breathtaking and the character development is very consistent and through out the story most characters have quite a large impact on the main charcter or the other way around.
What I find a little bit hard to deal with in these series is the large amount of characters that come along the story. Althought most characters will catch your atention, I still find it a bit hard to remenber every single one of them.
Since it's an historical manga, people tend to think that it
will tedious in every single way. Shoukoku no Altair is more than history. It's packed action, comical and dramatic scenes. The characters really catch your eye and and it's easy to take a liking to them.
I promise you that you won't be disappointed if you give a try.