Song of the Hanging Sky Volume One is a manga by Toriko Gin, and it was published in North America by Go! Comi in 2008. The series is rated “OT” for older teens 16 and up. After reading this volume, I agree with this rating.
The story of Song of the Hanging Sky is set at a time when the world is at war. While it is never explicitly stated what war it is, I get the impression from the hints that are dropped in this volume that the story is set sometime during World War II.
This story opens with a wartime medic named Jack, who lives by himself in the mountains, finding an injured young boy in the snow. It turns out the boy has wings, and that he is a member of the legendary “bird-folk.”
Jack nurses the boy back to health, and the two become friends. However, the boy’s stay with Jack doesn’t last long; a couple of members of the boy’s tribe come for him and him back to their village.
When they return to the village, the seer in the village senses a change in the boy’s soul, and that his contact with Jack has changed the boy’s future. The seer can sense the word “hello” coming from the boy’s soul, and the boy explains that it’s something that Jack said to him a lot; from this, it is decreed that the boy’s name is now “Hello.”
The older members of the tribe decide that Jack needs to be killed in order to keep the bird-folk safe. The remainder of the volume focuses on the attempt on Jack’s life and what happens afterward.
The art style that Toriko Gin utilizes for Song of the Hanging Sky is a combination of the “traditional manga style” with some panels that are done to resemble pencil sketches. This mixing of styles really adds to the overall feel of the series, especially when you take into consideration that the “bird-folk” are depicted in a way that makes me think of the Native Americans and their culture. It should also be noted that there are a couple of panels in this volume that contain frontal female nudity.
The main story in this particular volume of the series focuses on the clashing of two cultures, and how those involved must try to learn get past misunderstandings, overcome their differences and find a way to coexist. By the time I finished reading this volume, I was interested in continuing the series in order to find out more about the “bird-folk,” as well as how the story would continue.
The first volume of Song of the Hanging Sky is a great start for a series; hopefully, as the series progresses, the story will show the promise that is evident by the time the first volume concludes.