Inspired by a Tibetan folktale, Shuna’s Journey has many of the usual Hayao Miyazaki tropes (e.g., fantastical settings, a strong female protagonist) and touches on some of his pet themes, including both humanity’s relationship with nature and its proclivity for violence and exploitation. At the same time, it has a fairy tale-esque tone, particularly as the titular hero enters the strange lands of the god-folk — but as is Miyazaki’s wont, it’s tinged with darkness and mystery. Originally published in 1983, it might be tempting to dismiss Shuna’s Journey as a precursor to Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and Princess Mononoke — as if you’d ever really want to dismiss anything by Miyazaki, that is. But even with all of its familiarity, I was caught up within just a few pages thanks to Miyazaki’s gorgeous watercolors, poetic storytelling, and ability to pack so much life and energy into his illustrations. First Second Books’ edition contains a brief afterword by Miyazaki as well as some notes by translater Alex Dudok de Wit that offer some helpful insights into the story’s creation and themes.