Cover art for the first volume of the Sōten Kōro manga, as released by Kodansha
|Written by||Hagin Yi|
|Illustrated by||King Gonta|
|Original run||October 1994 – November 2005|
|Anime television series|
|Written by||Hideo Takayashiki|
|Original network||Nippon TV|
|Original run||April 7, 2009 – September 30, 2009|
Sōten Kōro (Japanese: 蒼天航路), also known as Beyond the Heavens, is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by King Gonta, adapted from an original story by Hagin Yi. It was serialized by Kodansha in the manga anthology magazine Weekly Morning from 1994 to 2005. After Hagin Yi died of cancer in September 1998, King Gonta picked up the story himself. A total of 409 chapters were published and compiled into 36 separate books. In 1998, it won the 22nd Kodansha Manga Award in the general category.
In Japan, Sōten Kōro was advertised by its publisher as "Neo-Sangokushi" (ネオ三国志), which may be translated as "Neo Romance of the Three Kingdoms".
Sōten Kōro's story is based loosely on the events taking place in Three Kingdoms period of China during the life of the last Chancellor of the Eastern Han Dynasty, Cao Cao (155 – March 15, 220), who also serves as the main character.
The Three Kingdoms period has been a popular theme in Japanese manga for decades, but Sōten Kōro differs greatly from most of the others on several points. One significant difference is its highly positive portrayal of its main character, Cao Cao, who is traditionally the antagonist in not only Japanese manga, but also most novel versions of the Three Kingdoms period, including the original 14th-century version, Romance of the Three Kingdoms by Luo Guanzhong. Another significant difference from others is that the storyline primarily uses the original historical account of the era, Records of Three Kingdoms by Chen Shou, as a reference rather than the aforementioned Romance of the Three Kingdoms novel. By this, the traditional hero of Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Liu Bei, takes on relatively less importance within the story and is portrayed in a less positive light. Yet, several aspects of the story are in fact based on the novel version, including the employment of its original characters such as Diao Chan, as well as anachronistic weapons such as Guan Yu’s Green Dragon Crescent Blade and Zhang Fei’s Viper Spear.
A consistent theme throughout the story is Cao Cao’s perpetual desire to break China and its people away from its old systems and ways of thinking and initiate a focus on pragmatism over empty ideals. This often puts him at odds with the prevalent customs and notions of Confucianism and those that support them.
The Japanese manga series Sōten Kōro is written by King Gonta, adapted from an original story by Hagin Yi. It has been serialized in the seinen manga magazine Weekly Morning by Kodansha from October 1994 to November 2005. In 1998, manga won the 22nd Kodansha Manga Award in the general category.
Total 409 individual chapters have been collected in 36 tankōbon and are released by Kodansha. The first volume of Sōten Kōro was released on October 23, 1995 and last thirty-sixth volume was released on January 23, 2006. It has been also collected in 18bunkoban from December 12, 2000 to December 12, 2006 and 12 Gokuatsuban Sōten Kōro (極厚 蒼天航路) with English title Beyond the Heavens from May 5, 2009 to October 23, 2009.
- Joel Hahn. "Kodansha Manga Awards". Comic Book Awards Almanac. Archived from the original on 2007-08-16. Retrieved 2007-08-21.
- 蒼天航路 (1) [Sōten Kōro(1)] (in Japanese). Kodansha. Retrieved October 30, 2010.
- 蒼天航路 (36) [Sōten Kōro(36)] (in Japanese). Kodansha. Retrieved October 30, 2010.
- ANN. "ANN Soten Koro to get anime adaption". Retrieved 2009-03-07.