is an adventure manga by Yoshihiro Takahashi. It was published by Shueisha in Weekly Shōnen Jump from 1983 to 1987, and collected in 18 bound volumes. It received the 1987 Shogakukan Manga Award for best shōnen series.
The series tells the story of an Akita Inu pup called Gin (Japanese for "silver") who leaves his master, a young boy named Daisuke, to join a pack of wild dogs. The pack is gathering strong dogs from all over Japan to fight a deranged bear named Akakabuto and his minions. The story begins from the point of view of the humans, but swings to the dogs with episode 7 of the anime. It is in that episode that the audience hears the dogs communicating with each other through speech, though it continues to be barks and whines to human ears. Takahashi was reportedly inspired by a news article about hunting dogs that had been abandoned by their masters and had begun living as wild animals.
Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin was adapted as a 21-episode anime television series by Toei Animation, a studio famous for its Dragon Ball anime (which premiered two months earlier in Japan). In western countries the anime was released as a set of four VHS tapes, and censored for violent images. This led to the removal of several plot-critical scenes, including all footage from the episodes preceding the series finale as well as the deaths of certain characters. Due to limitations of sound-editing at the time this resulted in the background music of certain scenes to be lost.
Atypically, the anime has become extremely popular in the Nordic countries (particularly Finland, Denmark and Sweden). The anime has been dubbed in Korean, Finnish, Hungarian, Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish. The Finnish dub, Hopeanuoli, was created by Golden Voice OY and became wildly popular. In 2003 the uncensored and non-dubbed version of the cartoon was released in Finland and Sweden as a 5 DVD box set. A corresponding DVD set was released in Denmark and Norway October 3 2006.
Gin and his family
Gin: An Akita Inu
pup. He is the pup that ultimately leads the final battle against Akakabuto. Gin is courageous and loyal, if a little headstrong. He is quick to anger when lives are taken needlessly, which initially sets him at odds with John.Riki: (Akita Inu
) Gin's charismatic father. He was believed killed in the beginning of the series by Akakabuto, but survived and had amnesia, becoming the leader of a pack of wild dogs. He was killed in the final battle, but not before regaining his memories.Fuji: (Akita Inu
) Gin's mother. Though she plays a small role, she is shown to be caring and protective of her pups.Shiro: (Akita Inu
) Gin's grandfather. He was killed by Akakabuto, and appears only in the beginning of the first episode.Gin's brothers: (Akita Inu
) They weren't given names in the manga nor the anime. They are looked upon as bad hunting dogs by Gohei, due to their lack of aggression, and he refuses to train them as he does Gin. They are seen briefly in the first few episodes of the anime, but have no other importance.
Ben: A Great Dane
mix. He was one of Riki's platoon leaders. He possesses unusual strength and recuperative ability. He was blinded by poison in a trap set by Akame, who was led to believe that Ben's group were outsiders helping Kurojaki. He then turned his platoon over to Gin. Although he was blind, he risked his life for the pack during the great battle.Cross: A Saluki
. A strong fighter in her own right, she was left for dead by her master after an attack by Akakabuto killed the rest of his hunting dogs. She joined the pack, and eventually fell in love with Ben, becoming his mate. She has three pups: Ken, George and Minnie. Ken and George play an important role in Ginga Densetsu Weed
.John: A German Shepherd
. He was Hidetoshi's hunting dog, but joined the wild dogs after losing a fight for leadership with Riki. At first reluctant to trust anyone, he eventually becomes close to Gin. John is notoriously snobbish and rude, but his fight with Riki seems to give him a much-needed dose of reality.Moss: An English Mastiff
. The leader of the Misty Mountains wild dogs. Sniper tried to turn Moss against Ben by killing one of his subordinates, Lloyd, and attempting to murder Moss' son, Jaguar, and frame Ben for the killings. Initially this ploy worked, and Moss and his pack fought fiercely against Ben's, nearly killing Ben in the process. When facts were eventually set straight, Moss joined Ben's pack, and proved to be a valuable ally in the final battle. Moss has a rather strange sense of humor, and in the manga is frequently seen horsing around with Smith. His also shown to have great affection for pups, being a very gentle and caring father figure.Sniper: A Doberman
. Once Riki's second-in-command, he sees Ben and Gin as a threat to his authority. After several attempts to sabotage Ben's mission, he is thrown out of the pack after losing a fight with Gin. Trying to break up the pack before the battle with Akakabuto, he was drowned in a ravine by Ben. In the manga, he survives this encounter and goes on to be an enemy of Gin's son.Hyena: A Weimaraner
. Sniper's cowardly lieutenant. He committed suicide trying to save Ben from Sniper. In the manga, he survived the fall, but was killed by Sniper.Smith: An French Spaniel
mix. Another of Riki's platoon leaders, he is saved by Gin after one of Sniper's plots, and they become friends. Easy going, but still serious, he is referred to as a "girl-chaser" by Cross. He also led Gohei to the final battle with Akakabuto.Akatora, Chūtora and Kurotora: The Kai Ken
brothers. As pups, the three were saved by Ben from a marten
, but not before Kurotora's eye is ripped out. Akatora ("Red tiger"), the oldest of the three, is killed in the final battle; he sacrificed himself to take out Akakabuto's left eye, leaving the bear totally blind. Originally, his intentions in this attack were simply to save the life of Ben. Chūtora ("Middle tiger") is the middle one, who is missing his right ear. He receives little to no serious recognition and later dies in the time period between Nagareboshi Gin and Ginga Densetsu Weed
. Kurotora ("Black tiger"), the youngest, lost an eye in the aforementioned attack by the marten. Kurotora and Chūtora's sons, born after the series, play important parts in Ginga Densetsu Weed
.Akame: A Kishū Inu
. He is the leader of the Iga Ninja Dogs. Ben first met Akame when he was still a hunting dog, his owner believed that Akame was a flying squirrel
and shot him, wounding his leg. When he realized his mistake, the human brought Akame to his home and treated his injuries. After his wounds heal, Akame pleaded to Ben to let him out of his cage, as his pups were still too young to survive on their own. Ben relents, and Akame returned to the forest to lead the Ninja dogs.
Years later, after falling for Kurojaki's scheme, Akame poisons Ben and his group. Later realizing Kurojaki's treachery, Akame is devastated and, with Gin's help, brings Ben and his dogs the medicinal herbs that will cure the poison. Though they save the packs lives, Ben is left with permanently imparied vision.
After a battle against Kurojaki and the other Kogas, ending in Kurojaki's suicide, Akame joins Ben in his mission and they leave for Shikoku.Kurojaki: A Shikoku Ken
(?). He is the leader of the Kōga Ninja Dogs. He has the distinction of being the only dog to actively use a weapon - a kama
, which is eventually used against him by Gin, gouging out his own eye. When Akame burns the Iga house to end the feud, Kurojaki flings himself into the fire, declaring that the war is his only purpose. Most of the other Kōgas follow, and are burned to death.
Kurojaki's son is adopted by the pack, who give him the affectionate title of 'chibi,' and Cross helps raise him until her pups with Ben are born. Later he is officially named Tesshin, and plays an important role in Ginga Densetsu Weed
.Wilson: A Rough Collie
. He was once a circus dog that traveled all of Japan. His mate Leen and pup Londo were killed by Kurojaki, which drives Wilson into attempting to kill Kurojaki's pup in revenge. He was stopped by Cross, and after that he joined Ben's pack. Wilson knows many stories, and his knowledge often comes in handy.Musashi: A Tosa Inu
. Once a champion fighting dog, he also joined Ben's group, and led Gin to Benizakura.Benizakura: A Tosa Inu
mix. Benizakura is seen defeating a bull when Gin first meets him. Gin attacks Benizakura, letting him strike twice, so that he later can demand a re-match. Benizakura's owner finds Cross passed-out on the beach, and brings Cross to Benizakura. Cross tells Benizakura about the pack and their goal. Gin returns and challenges Benizakura to a fight, and makes him promise that if Gin dies Benizakura will take over as leader of the pack. Benizakura agrees and the fight starts. Benizakura defeats Gin, pinning him down to the ground, but is still impressed by Gin's fighting spirit, and he then decides to join the pack. Benizakura sacrificed himself to ensure the death of Mosa, one of Akakabuto's lieutenants. (Benizakura is sometimes romanized into Benitsakura
, but this is inaccurate.)Kisaragi: A Siberian Husky
. He is an ambitious pack leader, and fights with Gin's pack before the two ally against Akakabuto. He and three other generals prowl Mutsu; Uzuki, Hazuki, and Minazuki rarely get any special attention.Hakurō: A Siberian Husky
. He traveled all the way from Hokkaido to join the battle against Akakabuto. He has a quirky sense of humor and is prone to acting quite brashly.Bill: A Doberman
, leader of the Bandit dogs of Shikoku. He is apparently a righteous dog, since he stops Sniper from fighting unfairly against Gin and his friends. After Gin has convinced him with his skills Bill and the Bandits join the Ohu soldiers in the war against Akakabuto. In the manga, he dies in the battle against Gaia.
Other minor dogs
Oliver: A Dachshund
, and a friend of Cross. He rescued her when she was cornered by the two rogue dogs Rokusuke and Beth while she was on her way to Shikoku, and later returns to aid her and Gin. Oliver is very perky and streetwise, and frequently jokes about his own stubby legs.Kirikaze: A Kishū Inu
Iga ninja dog. He is one of Akame's followers, but is killed by Madara.Jinnai: A Kishū Inu
. He is an Iga ninja dog and one of Akame's followers. Madara bites him to death.Hayato: A Kishū Inu
and Iga ninja dog. When the Kōga ninjas first attack, he was very scared. His brother gave him courage and inspired him by drowning himself with a Kōga, and Hayato plunges into a hole filled with pikes with another Kōga, thus sacrificing himself.Rikiou: A Tosa Inu
. He once belonged to Gohei and was trained as a hunting dog, renowned for eating bear-meat the first time it was offered to him. His head was crushed under the paw of a bear, for Rikiou rushed the bear, having never learned to fear the powerful enemy.Tsuna'arashi: A Tosa Inu
. He was once the Fighting Dog champion of all of Japan, but not long after fighting and drawing with Benizakura, he went blind and was abused as a training dog for other fighters. When Benizakura wished to have a rematch with him, Tsuna'arashi was discovered in his pathetic state, and Benizakura killed the dogs beating him before running away.
Akakabuto: Also known as the notorious 'Onikubi
,' or 'demon bear,' in Iwate and Aomori. Akakabuto's name means "red helmet" for the blaze red mane of hair on his head. He has terrorized the humans and dogs of the Ohu Mountains for years. His right eye was shot out by Gohei six years previous. Because of the damage, Akakabuto is unable go into hibernation and grows to an unimaginable size. Gin finally slays him in the final battle, cutting his head off with the Zetsu Tenrou Battouga attack. (In the English Ginga Densetsu Weed
manga he is actually called "Red Helmet")Madara: Early in the anime, Madara was just one of the many nuisance bears of the Ohu Mountains, and challenged the pack many times. He has many white markings across his body, hence his name; madara means "spots" in Japanese. He challenged Akakabuto early in the series, but lost with a single blow. When Akakabuto gathered bears against the dogs, however, Madara was one of his lieutenants. He was killed by Gin and Akame when Gin fashioned a spear with a large branch and rammed it through his mouth and out the back of his neck. (NOTE: Some European dubs describe Madara as a female. In the original Japanese, however, Madara is male.)Mosa: Another of Akakabuto's lieutenants; his right paw is deformed and vestigial. Nevertheless, Mosa is very swift and intelligent. He was killed in an attack by Benizakura, who tied him down underwater in a river, causing both of them to drown.
Gaki: A son of Akakabuto, he was his father's double used to fool Akakabuto's enemies. Riki cut his claws off, believing him to be Akakabuto, but is weakened after using the attack and Gaki strikes."Harpoon Bear": When the dogs are about to cross the sea, Wilson tells the tale pertaining to why the ship they take refuge on is deserted; the bear was trapped on the ship and began to eat the crew. Eventually, the survivors of the crew discovered him and launched three harpoons into his back, but it didn't kill the bear. He makes his way to Ohu and kills one of Akakabuto's lieutenants, Kesagake, thus taking his place. He tries to impress Akakabuto by leading Gin's pack towards Gajou, but Akakabuto is furious with him betraying the location of the stronghold, and, killing him, knocks the Harpoon Bear off the rocky top of Gajou.Kesagake: One of Akakabuto's lieutenants. He is charged with guarding the paths to Gajou, but is killed by the Harpoon-stuck bear.
Gohei Takeda: A gruff and violent-tempered old bear hunter in the Ohu Mountains. The village "grandfather," he is 64 years old during the events of GNG. Five years previous, he lost his dog Shiro (Gin's grandfather) to Akakabuto and also got his left ear sliced off by the demon bear. He trains Gin, and is his owner part of the time. (In the end of the manga Gohei falles ill, he reunites with Gin for the last time and passes away. As he is carried off in a car Gin's pack which was on both sides of the road, howl for in honor for giving them such a great leader.)Daisuke: Gin's original owner, before Gohei took him. Gin is returned to him after Gohei is hospitalized. Daisuke is 8 years old, and the son of a local ski lodge owner. Very brash and often bratty, Daisuke swears to kill Akakabuto with Gin's help.Hidetoshi: The arrogant son of a local mayor that was killed by Akakabuto. He was John's owner. He killed one of Akakabuto's ferocious cubs along with his German Shepherd hunting dog John in revenge. He is a surgeon who has returned to the town after many years and maintains a private hospital. He is an experienced hunter who teaches Daisuke how to handle a hunting bow.
Ginga Densetsu Weed
In 2000, Takahashi started Ginga Legend Weed
(Japanese: 銀牙伝説ウィード; Ginga Densetsu Wiido
), a sequel manga which takes place 14 years after the original. Gin's son, "Weed", searches for his father whom he has never met. An anime adaptation by Studio Deen
was shown throughout 2005 and 2006. The manga is currently published by Nihon Bungeisha. The anime was released on DVD in Finland and other Nordic countries is late 2006 by FutureFilm. Each DVD contains 3-4 episodes and costs about 13 euros. FutureFilm released a Weed DVD box set in 2007.
Ginga Densetsu Riki
Ginga Densetsu Riki
is a short, prequel manga based on Riki's puphood. It was first published in a magazine named "Weed World", and eventually an entire volume was produced. There is only one volume and it is six chapters long.