The story of Akaboshi: Ibun Suikoden
Akaboshi: Ibun Suikoden (translated as “Morning Star: Water Margin”) is an action shonen manga series written and illustrated by Yoichi Amano. It was serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump by Shueisha from May to November 2009, with its chapters collected into 3 volumes. Amano had often worked with the action/adventure genre and published other notable works such as Stealth Symphony and Mist Gears Blast.
The story is based on a very famous Chinese novel called “水滸傳” (Shui Hu Zhuan), mostly considered to be the work of writer Shi Nai’an. Mainly known as “Water Margin” (directly translated into Japanese as “水滸伝” (Suikoden)), the novel were also referred to by different names like “All Men Are Brothers” or “Outlaws of the Marsh”. The novel is considered one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature.
Akaboshi - Ibun Suikoden
Shining Light in the Darkness!
At the beginning of Akaboshi: Ibun Suikoden, China had gone through a long period of internal conflicts, which was known as “The Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms”. The Song dynasty ended this era of political divisions that lasted roughly 70 years and united China. However, the dynasty had began to decline and the “blade of greed” turned towards its common people.
It was the year 1112, the country was in unrest and bandits were rampaging. People were dying from starvation, excessive tax and overwork but government officials lived extravagantly. In the midst of that, a band of chivalrous thieves called “Taiten Gyoudou” has been fighting off corrupt officials and helping the citizens. One of them was even rumored to turn into a fiery ball and run, like a falling red star.
Back to the present, a young man named Taisou appeared to be kidnapped by a bunch of bandits because he knew where the treasures were hidden in his village. However, Taisou seemed to be quite relaxed for someone that had been kidnapped.
When the bandits were carrying Taisou on their way, someone decided to interfere. That person held the flag of Taiten Gyoudou and wore a panda mask. However, she was quickly unmasked by one of the bandits and revealed to be a girl named Suiren. While Suiren was busy fending off the bandits, Taisou looked annoyed and told her that he finally found a “taxi” but she broke it.
It turned out that there was a small tiger travelling alongside Taisou and it easily freed him from the binding rope. Taisou had lied to the bandits just so he could be carried off instead of having to walk the whole way.
When Suiren called Taisou out for being a cheater, Taisou also called her out for being an imposter. She looked at Taisou’s strange sword, which had cracks all over its surface and no cutting edge. There was even a large piece missing from the blade. Taisou snickered and said that, “This is the treasured sword Fukuma no Tsurugi, it isn’t made for killing bandits”
With that, Taisou began to walk away but Suiren told him her story. Suiren’s village was at the lowest level of poverty because of the prefectural governor’s greed and cruelty. However, the rumor of a merciful band of thieves called Taiten Gyoudou, which was as righteous as their name “We who travel on the path to change the heaven”, made the people believe that they would help defeating this rotten country.
To keep that hope alive, Suiren had been disguising as Taiten Gyoudou and helped people to spread the rumor even further. Taisou didn’t seem to care and simply walked away.
When Suiren got back to her village, the governor’s carriage arrived and almost crushed everyone on its path. The prefectural governor announced that the taxes would be raised even more. The citizens watched in fear as one of the people spoke against the governor and was instantly cut down. Suiren defended the villagers and said that Taiten Gyoudou would come and deliver justice for them.
Hearing that, the governor pointed out that he knew the Taiten Gyoudou’s member in this area was an imposter, and that person had small stature with a woman-like voice. He decided to arrest all women and children in the village as suspects and torture them.
Suiren was about to give herself up when Taisou appeared from behind the governor. He blatantly said that the imposter was Suiren and she was arrested immediately for a public execution.
The villagers wanted to stood up and fight for her but Suiren prevented them. Suiren was the only daughter of a traveling entertainer and when her parents died, everyone in the village took her in. She considered them her family and wanted to help giving them hope. Hearing that, the governor asked for a ridiculous amount of money from each household in return for Suiren’s life.
Taisou told Suiren that her justice got broken so easily and along with the name “Taiten Gyoudou” came strength, not justice. The real flag flied behind Taisou’s back when he swung his giant sword and cut the carriage in half. Taisou used lightning fast sword techniques that created high temperature friction; thus he was able to cut the enemies down even with a bladeless sword.
The governor hastily ran away, leaving his men to deal with Taisou. He was revealed to be the “falling star” in rumors and moved to chase after the governor. He cut all the men down along the way, with his large sword turning into a red blade engulfed in flame due to intense friction.
Taisou swore to shatter the corrupt Song dynasty and allow its people to choose a new king. “Taiten Gyoudou will become the name of the dynasty that rules over China”.
When being thanked by the villagers for defeating the governor, Taisou said that he was merely following his master’s orders. After that, the rumor spread even further about a burning red star that would deliver the message of this world’s dawn and become the “morning star”.
Read on as 108 heroes gather under the Taiten Gyoudou’s flag in this epic story of revolution!
Akaboshi - Ibun Suikoden