The Witcher Ronin is a complete witcher manga based on Japanese folklore
As part of WitcherCon, CD Projekt Red announced a Kickstarter pre-launch campaign for The Witcher Ronin, a full CDPR manga. Author Rafał Jaki is teaming up with Japanese illustrator Hataya for this gorgeous new project and IGN got to speak with Jaki about the manga ahead of the official announcement.
What is the witcher Ronin?
The Witcher Ronin is an upcoming full Witcher manga written by Rafał Jaki, who worked as a CDPR comic book editor for eight years, co-created the fictional card game Gwent, and is developing the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077 anime, Edgerunners. The illustrations for the manga are mainly done by Hataya, a manga artist known for Neko no Matasaburou and Mangaka Joshi.
The manga will tell a standalone “Elseworld” story, unrelated to the video game storylines, meaning it won’t be a story where Geralt from The Witcher is magically teleported from his world to Japan by magick. Instead, Jaki took inspiration from stories like Superman Red Son and Batman Ninja to take an established character and place him in a new setting.
Jaki says placing Geralt in a fantasy Japanese setting was an interesting exercise as Japanese folklore also has a rich tradition of monsters known as yokai. And that tradition formed a bridge that connected Geralt to the new cadre.
“Personally, I love the new monsters and folk tales that we can experiment with,” Jaki says. “Europe and Japan have a unique tradition in this area, and bringing iconic Japanese stories and monsters and putting them in a witcher context was the most exciting thing for me.”
There were a few challenges to consider. For example, the term “Witcher” itself would not necessarily correspond to the Japanese context. But Jaki says he decided to build on the precedent set by the old Elseworld comics to resolve this issue.
“We took inspiration from other Elseworld comics where, for example in Superman Red Son even though Superman lands in the CCCP instead of Kansas, [in the] In the United States, he’s still called Superman – it’s an artistic license that makes it easy for people to have fun with the concept and understand it.
The fusion of The Witcher and Japanese fantasy is nothing new. CD Projekt has a range of high end action figures that already do. But the idea of putting Geralt in a Japanese fantasy world actually predates the figure and the manga.
The origins of the manga The Witcher
The origin of the manga The Witcher really began when Jaki went to the PlayStation Awards in Tokyo in 2015 with studio head Adam Badowski.
Jaki, who also has a degree in Japanese philosophy at Warsaw University, mentioned that he always thought that Geralt had a lot in common with the Japanese ronin (wandering swordsman), and before heading to Tokyo, Jaki and Badowski asked studio artist Robert Adler to design a pair of custom t-shirts with an illustration of Geralt in ronin to wear at the gala.
While local Japanese media picked up on the t-shirt design at the time, it seemed destined to be unique. A few years later, the CDPR started working on a range of high-end statues. The design team was taking ideas, and Jaki was able to bring his idea of Geralt back into a Japanese-inspired setting.
There is now a line of Witcher figures inspired by Japanese folklore, including those of Geralt, Ciri and Yennifer. But given the series’ storytelling potential, Jaki decided to write a full treatment for a real-life Geralt Ronin story that he shared with Badowski, CDPR director Marcin Blacha, and comic book writer Bartosz. With the help of CDPR Japan, Jaki was able to connect with artist Hataya and together the two created a three-page draft of the idea.
This three-page draft laid the groundwork for the full 100-page manga that Jaki and Hataya are in the process of creating. Bartosz Szybor and CD Projekt Red Japanese manager Satoru Homma will serve as editors and Eisner-nominated artist Aditya Bidikar will serve as editor.
Several Witcher comics have been published in the past with Dark Horse, CDPR’s publishing partner. But for the Witcher Ronin manga, CDPR chose to go to Kickstarter for two very specific reasons: to create a collector’s edition, and to launch the manga on a global scale.
The development of the manga has already been paid for by CDPR. Instead, the Kickstarter is a way for Jaki and his company to fund a “Breathtaking Collector’s Edition” for fans who really want to see the best version of The Witcher manga. Jaki says it’s not a project “for the widest possible audience but for people who like either The Witcher or the yokai manga – or both!”
The Kickstarter will allow CDPR to directly engage the community and get their feedback on what they expect from a Collector’s Edition, as well as launch the book globally, in as many countries at the same time.
For starters, the Kickstarter campaign will feature the 100-page color main story of Jaki and Hataya, as well as three 15-page short stories, each by three guest artists. The pre-launch Kickstarter page goes live today, but the current campaign does not yet have a specific release date. However, the CDPR says it won’t take more than 60 days after the pre-launch page goes live.
Netflix’s The Witcher: Season 2 Photos
For more, check out IGN’s recap of everything announced at WitcherCon, including the release date and the first trailer for The Witcher season 2 on Netflix.
Matt TM Kim is the editor-in-chief of IGN.