Sunday, March 18, 2012

Usagi Yojimbo: Samurai (Review)

Usagi Yojimbo translates from Japanese to mean "Rabbit Bodyguard". The essence of Usagi Yojimbo, written and illustrated by Stan Sakai, is an anthropomorphic, 17th Century world. Specifically, in Japan.  Usagi is a  Ronin....which is a master-less Samurai.

He wonders around finding himself in adventure after adventure, enjoying friends and facing enemies.  Always following the Samurai code of Honor and Duty (known in Japanese as "Bushido"), Usagi Yojimbo, and his author Stan Sakai,  have won numberous awards for it's historic cultural accuracy and it's enlightening stories.


The volume begins with Usagi face-to-face with an adversary, who is slain in the dual of swords. Gen; who reminds us more than once that he is Usagi's best friend, happens upon the aftermath of this altercation. Asking why Usagi killed this fellow Samurai, Usagi begins a long story that fills the remaining pages of the book.....his origin and his relation to the Samurai that just fell at his sword's edge.

Usagi's Sensei, Katsuichi
What follows is the colorful, thoughful, entertaining, & enlightening tale of Usagi's origin....from a small child to the Ronin we see today. Along the way, we learn a little about Gen the Bounty Hunter too.  But this story focuses on how Usagi became a legendary Samurai, the life lessons he learned from his Sensei (teacher) Katsuichi, and mistakes he has made. We see his early life and how the Samurai who fell before Usagi at the beginning of the book was responsible for his current status of Ronin, and the death of his "lord".

I started reading Usagi Yojimbo cautiously, believing "silly rabbits are for kids".....but have had to eat my own words, because the character and stories of Usagi Yojimbo are entertaining, humorous, and enlightening.  As a history buff, and someone who respects and admires ancient Japanese culture....I was pleasantly surprised and impressed with the skill Stan Sakai (pictured to the right) shows with his Rabbit Samurai, Usagi Yojimbo.
Citizen's Grade: Impressive.

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