Usagi Yojimbo: Yokai


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Usagi Yojimbo: Yokai


  • Words: Stan Sakai
  • Art: Stan Sakai
  • Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
  • Price: $14.95
  • Release Date: Nov 11, 2009

The Samurai Rabbit celebrates twenty-five years of award winning and all ages friendly comics with his first ever graphic novel!

For more then 120 issues, Stan Sakai has brought the world a delightful creation - the honorable Miyamoto Usagi.  During that time, we have seen historically inspired battles.  We have been taught valuable life lessons.  We’ve been entertained, sometimes we have wept, sometimes we have rejoiced.

We have watched a character mature and grow a little taller.  We have seen Stan Sakai emerge as a master storyteller sprinkling his adventures with a touch of Japanese mythology and history.

Commemorating this monumental year, Fantagraphics has released a hardcover box set of their material.  Here, Dark Horse and the creator celebrate with his first long form single narrative - in all, 56 pages of water colored folklore.

It is a dark and hazy night.  The kind that ghouls and monsters relish in.  The kind of night where little girls go missing and brave warriors must put their own fears aside as they do the right thing.

In the Land of the Rising Sun, there is a legend that states that every summer there is a “Night Parade of One Hundred Demons.”  During this event, the monsters gather and go about their business of scaring people.  This night is extra special though.  It is the hundredth year of such an event, an anniversary requiring a soul to help the Yokai bring about their own domination of our world. 

And it is this night that Usagi and an old friend must fight to save the world and each other.

Along the way, Sakai does his best to expose the reader to his native culture.  Through Japanese stories and words, he enriches his readers.  Of course, there is the benign moral that marks any good fable.

He populates the story with monsters new and old.  Traditional and closer to his own heart.  It is fun, inventive and exciting - you know, your standard issue Usagi adventure.

The real star here is the artist’s use of watercolor.  Gone is the trademark texture of the series.  In its place we find thick black lines that give the book a feel similar to the very first Usagi stories.  Instead of a standard brushed look, Sakai gives the book an expert stroke that accomplishes the goal of the missing textures while giving the colored book a smooth look.  The line work is as kinetic as any long term fan would expect.  The watercolors just bring the book more vividly to life.

Adding an interview detailing the creative process behind this graphic novel and a detailed step by step creation of a single panel - the publisher gives the hardcover the extras that the hardcore fans love while humbly demonstrating how far his creation has come and a minor glimpse into its future.

Whether this is your first exposure to one of comics' most enduring icons or your own silver anniversary celebration - there is plenty to love in this book.

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