Monday, June 8, 2015

Book Review: Usagi Yojimbo: Yokai by Stan Sakai

 Usagi Yojimbo: Yokai writing and art by Stan Sakai

Miyamoto Usagi is a traveling warrior (the "Yojimbo" part of the title). He's wandering through a dark forest when he comes upon some monsters and ghosts from Japanese folklore (the "Yokai" part of the title). After an initial run-in with a fox-fire, Usagi finds a beautiful, well-dressed woman who is crying. Her daughter has been kidnapped by one of the spirits and taken deeper into the woods. This particular night is a sort of Halloween, when all the spirits get together to cause trouble for the living. Usagi promises to find the girl and return her. He soon discovers that this night is extra-special--the Yokai want to use the girl to raise a terrible demon who will bring about the end of the world! His adventure leads him into many fights with the Yokai as he joins an old friend, Sasuke the Demon Queller (just the sort of person he needs on a night like this), to save the world.

This story is a twenty-fifth anniversary special edition of Usagi Yojimbo, so it is in full color and is a stand-alone story. I haven't read any other stories but I had an easy time following and enjoying this story. The monsters are interesting in their bizarre and quirky way (much like the monsters in Hellboy stories). The action and humor are well-executed. The art is watercolor, which is unusual for graphic novels but suits the story, giving it enough other-worldliness to make it fascinating and unique. I am definitely curious to read more adventures of this character.

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