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Hoshino Yukinobu

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Artist, Author, Comics.

(1954-    ), Japanese comics creator who has garnered major accolades and a strong following among Manga fans for his variations on Space Flight and Gods and Demons. A drop-out from the Aichi University of Fine Arts and Music, Hoshino made his debut with "Kōtetsu no Queen" ["Queen of Steel"] (graph April 1975 Shōnen Jump). Thereafter he stayed largely in the realm of serial manga short stories, only forming book-length volumes in retrospect when fixed up into collections. His earlier stories, often drawn for juvenile magazines, framed mature themes around a somewhat cartoony art style; as he moved into magazines for older readers, his artwork acquired a sharp, photo-real work reminiscent of similar material by Katsuhiro Ōtomo. The packaging and subsequent repackaging of his linked shorts in differing collections, such as the two selected volumes of Midway (graph 2000-2001), has occasionally repositioned previously unrelated stories as tales set in the same universe, implying an element of crossover and the possibility that many of his Alternate History and Future History works, though initially conceived as one-shots, may largely form a single narrative.

Several of his early works focus on the genre potential of environments Under the Sea. "Kyōfu no Insekijun" ["Meteorites of Fear"] (graph January 1976 Shōnen Jump; fixup as part of Blue City 1988), was the first of several linked Disaster stories in which a meteorite shower unleashes a global Pandemic, from which humanity retreats in submarines (see Keeps). The unrelated Blue Hole (graph January 1991 Mister Magazine; coll 1992) posits the discovery of an underwater time tunnel off the coast of Africa that permits Time Travel between the present and the age of the Dinosaurs. The first evidence of existence is the presence of coelacanths near Madagascar; subsequent blue hole discoveries connect Hoshino's storyline not only to legends of the Bermuda Triangle and the Loch Ness Monster, but also to other blue holes that link the Cretaceous, Jurassic and Palaeozoic periods. Initial stories focus on exploration and Ecology, and an abortive scheme to ease Pollution by swapping spoiled modern seawater for its unsullied prehistoric equivalent. The sequel Blue World (graph April 1995 Comic Afternoon; coll 1996) sends a combined military and scientific team of British and American explorers through the hole into the past, in an intriguing hybrid of Jurassic Park (1993) and Stargate (1994). An ongoing subtext associates successive blue hole manifestations with fluctuations in the Earth's magnetic field, itself a key element in the various extinction events that wiped out several genuses of dinosaur, leading some Scientists to deduce that this new, present-day proliferation of the phenomenon could indicate the approaching End of the World. Although unknown in English, the story has been translated into French, Korean, Thai and Chinese. Hoshino's interest in prehistoric creatures would lead to his illustration of a series written by Ryūji Kaneko, Kyōryū Wonderland ["Dinosaur Wonderland"] (graph 1993-1996 Comic Tom).

A major strand of Hoshino's work involves the reappraisal of stories from Mythology as a prolonged Shaggy God Story, applying sf themes to mysteries from world history (see History in SF). Kyojintachi no Densetsu ["Legend of the Titans"] (graph October 1977 Shōnen Jump) reconceived the mythological "titans" as Forerunners whose plan to avert the last ice age by converting Jupiter into a second sun is dusted off by modern scientists in the face of renewed Climate Change. The Nazi-themed "Lorelei no Uta" ["Song of the Lorelei"] (graph January 1979 Young Jump), was the first of several stories that focused on women's power over men; it reached its high point with the extended "Sabaku no Jo-Ō" ["Queen of the Desert"] (graph March 1979-1980 Young Jump; coll in Yōsei Densetsu 1981), which reimagined the Reincarnation of Cleopatra as the Biblical Salome and Zenobia (see Women in SF).

His most enduring character in this fortean style is the protagonist of the Munakata Kyōju ["Professor Munakata"] series, beginning with Munakata Kyōju Denkikō ["The Strange Investigations of Professor Munakata"] (graph 1995-1999 Comic Tom), depicting an elderly investigator in the Sherlock Holmes vein, initially solving Equipoisal mysteries from early Japanese history, but whose later cases spread to cover similar phenomena in other countries. After a hiatus at the beginning of the twenty-first century, the series moved to a new venue with Munakata Kyōju Ikōroku ["The Case Records of Professor Munakata"] (graph 2004-2010 Big Comic), leading to Professor Munakata's British Museum Adventure (2011), the only volume to date to be translated into English.

"Ivan Dejavu no Ichinichi" ["One Day in the Life of Ivan Dejavu"] (graph March 1986 Business Jump; coll 1988), is an sf pastiche of Alexander Solzhenitsyn's Odin den' Ivana Denisovicha (November 1962 Novy Mir; trans by Ralph Parker as One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich 1963), set in a town dominated by a giant cannon, which the occupants are obliged to load and fire in an unending war similar to that in Memories (1995). Its message, however, is focused not on war but on a preoccupied worker who tries to buy his neglected son's affection with an ill-chosen gift, in a metaphor for Japan's proletarianized labour force (see also Taku Mayumura).

Outside Japan, Hoshino's best known work is 2001-ya Monogatari ["Tales of the 2001 Nights"] (graph June 1984-1986 Super Action; coll 1985; trans as 2001 Nights 1987), a sequence of vignettes on space travel and exploration, many of which form an over-arching Future History, the title of which deliberately recalls both the 1001 "Arabian" Nights, and 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). The stories chart humanity's slow exodus from Earth, from the Near Future of "Earthglow", in which astronauts on the space shuttle suspect, wrongly, that their payload will start World War Three, to "Children of Earth" several centuries later, in which a dwindling group of space-faring humans prepares to leave Betelgeuse for a 3000-light-year leap into Hyperspace. Displaying a strong sense of Technology and Time Abyss, 2001-ya Monogatari neatly dovetails Hoshino's SF and fantasy work, most notably in "Lucifer Rising", an extended meditation on Paradise Lost, in which a Jesuit scientist sent to explore a newly discovered tenth planet (see Outer Planets) is forced to confront the implications for Religion and astrology. With a generally melancholy quality, and the ultimate implication that humanity, at least in its current form, is unsuited for the Colonization of Other Worlds, the series manages to impart a sense of New Wave pessimism, even amid imagery and storylines largely drawn from the Golden Age of SF. Selected stories have twice been adapted into Anime, as Space Fantasia 2001-ya Monogatari (1987) directed by Yoshio Takeuchi, and TO (2009 Japan; 2011 US) directed by Fumihiko Sori. Both were billed as video releases, although the latter was previewed first on television, and hence should technically be classed under that heading.

Hoshino's standing is oddly, refreshingly fragmented from territory to territory. His standing in the English-speaking world is based on 2001-ya Monogatari, a Hard SF collection that is already two decades old, whereas he has a larger footprint in France, where more of his marine stories are available in translation, although only a fragment of his keynote Munakata Kyōju is available outside Japan. Meanwhile, his critical high point within Japan is arguably none of the above, with the untranslated Yamataika ["Fires of Yamatai"] (graph 1987) winning a Seiun Award in his native land. Fixed up from an original short to be found in Yamato no Hi ["Fires of Yamato"] (1984), it is a sprawling Holocaust tale that draws deeply on both ancient and modern Japanese mythologies, depicting the sudden rise of a millennial cult in southern Japan that splits the nation along ancient enmities between the prehistoric Races of Fire and Sun. The former is found to be able to use ancient bronze artefacts to amplify latent powers of Telepathy; the latter is a Pariah Elite with Psi Powers relying on iron materials. The grand finale, with Japan engulfed in supernatural Disaster amid erupting volcanoes, finds the Reincarnation of the ancient historical priest-queen Himiko squaring off against her nemesis aboard the refloated hulk of the World War Two battleship Yamato (see Uchū Senkan Yamato).

As a book illustrator, Hoshino provided images for the covers and interiors of the Mobile Suit Gundam Tie Kidō Senshi Gundam: Gyakushū no Char ["Char's Counterattack"] (1987) by Yoshiyuki Tomino and on the fourth volume of the Ginga Eiyū Densetsu ["Legend of Galactic Heroes"] series (1997) by Yoshiki Tanaka. He also adapted The Two Faces of Tomorrow (1979) by James P Hogan into manga form as Mirai no Futatsu no Kau ["The Two Faces of the Future"] (graph April 1993-1994 Mister Magazine; trans as The Two Faces of Tomorrow, 2006). [JonC]

Yukinobu Hoshino

born Kushiro, Japan: 29 January 1954

works (selected)



  • Blue Hole (Tokyo: Kōdansha, 1992) [coll of linked stories: graph: in two volumes: Blue: pb/]
  • Blue World (Tokyo: Kōdansha, 1996) [coll of linked stories: graph: in two volumes: Blue: pb/]

Munakata Kyōju

  • Munakata Kyōju Denkikō ["The Strange Investigations of Professor Munakata"] (Tokyo: Ushio Shuppan-sha, 1996) [coll of linked stories: graph: in eight volumes: Munakata Kyōju: pb/]
  • Munakata Kyōju Ikōroku ["The Case Records of Professor Munakata"] (Tokyo: Ushio Shuppan-sha, 2005-current) [coll of linked stories: graph: in 15 volumes (ongoing): Munakata Kyōju: pb/]

individual titles

  • Kyojintachi no Densetsu ["Legend of the Titans"] (Tokyo: Shūeisha, 1978) [graph: pb/]
    • Kyojintachi no Densetsu ["Legend of the Giants"] (Tokyo: Shūeisha, 1988) [graph: new edition of the above with two extra stories: pb/]
  • Yamato no Hi ["Fires of Yamato"] (Tokyo: Shūeisha, 1984) [graph: pb/]
  • Star Field (Tokyo: Futabasha, 1986) [graph: with some textual content: hb/]
  • Yamataika (Tokyo: Ushio Shuppan-sha, 1987) [graph: in six volumes: pb/]
  • Bem Hunter Sword (Tokyo: Kōdansha, 1991) [graph: pb/]
  • Megacross (Tokyo: Ushio Shuppan-sha, 1992) [graph: in two volumes: pb/]
  • Mirai no Futatsu no Kau ["The Two Faces of the Future"] (Tokyo: Kōdansha, 1993) with James P Hogan [graph: in two volumes: pb/]
  • Kodoku Experiment ["Isolation Experiment"] (Tokyo: Gentōsha, 2003) [graph: in three volumes: pb/]
  • Moon Lost (Tokyo: Kōdansha, 2004) [graph: pb/]
  • Rain Man (Tokyo: Shōgakukan, 2015) [graph: in five volumes: pb/Yukinobu Hoshino]


  • Blue City (Tokyo: Sōbisha, 1976) [coll of linked stories: graph: in two volumes: pb/]
    • Blue City (Tokyo: Shūeisha, 1988) [coll: graph: exp of the above with three extra stories: pb/]
  • Harukanaru Asa ["Faraway Morning"] (Tokyo: Shūeisha, 1977) [coll: graph: pb/]
    • Harukanaru Asa ["Faraway Morning"] (Tokyo: Shūeisha, 1988) [coll: graph: exp of the above with two extra stories: pb/]
  • Umi no Ha ["Fangs of the Sea"] (Tokyo: Sōbisha, 1979) [coll: graph: pb/]
    • Ivan Dejavu no Ichinichi ["One Day in the Life of Ivan Dejavu"] (Tokyo: Sōbisha, 1988) [coll: graph: partial reprint of the above with two new stories: pb/]
  • Saber Tiger (Tokyo: Shūeisha, 1981) [coll: graph: pb/]
    • Saber Tiger (Tokyo: Shūeisha, 1987) [coll: graph: exp of the above with extra stories: pb/]
  • Yōsei Densetsu ["Legends of the Enchantress/Siren"] (Tokyo: Shūeisha, 1981) [coll of linked stories: graph: in two volumes: pb/]
  • Sanzō ["An Afterimage"] (Tokyo: Shūeisha, 1982) [coll: graph: pb/]
  • 2001-ya Monogatari ["Tales of 2001 Nights"] (Tokyo: Shūeisha, 1985) [coll of linked stories: graph: in three volumes: pb/]
    • 2001 Nights (San Francisco, California: Viz Communications, 1987) [coll of linked stories: graph: trans of the above in three volumes: hb/]
  • Ōinaru Kaisen ["The Broadening Horizon"] (Tokyo: Shinshokan, 1988) [coll: graph: pb/]
  • Stardust Memories (Tokyo: Scholar, 1995) [coll: graph: pb/]
  • Chronicle (Tokyo: Asahi Sonorama, 1996) [coll: graph: art book: hb/]
  • Midway Rekishi-hen ["Midway: History"] (Tokyo: Shūeisha, 2000) [coll: graph: pb/]
  • Midway Uchū-hen ["Midway: Space"] (Tokyo: Shūeisha, 2001) [coll: graph: pb/]
  • El Alamein no Shinden ["Temple of El Alamein"] (Tokyo: Gentōsha, 2003) [coll: graph: pb/]
  • Horobishi Kemonotachi no Umi ["Monsters Beneath the Sea"] (Tokyo: Gentōsha, 2004) [coll: graph: pb/]
  • Kamunabi ["Divine Southern Fires"] (Tokyo: Shūeisha, 2004) [coll of linked stories: pb/]
  • Pilots: Shoki Ga Shūsei ["Pilots: Collected Early Works"] (Tokyo: Chikuma, 2006) [coll: pb/]


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