For going on 25 years Stan Sakai‘s Usagi Yojimbo has been taking its anthropomorphized rabbit Samurai protagonist on adventure after adventure through Edo-era Japan while maintaining a steady rhythm of excellence in both storytelling and cartooning. Usagi Yojimbo #143 is no exception.
We find our hero in a new town and quickly embroidered in a new exploit defending the poor and defenseless against the powerful and bullying. It’s pretty standard fare for many samurai stories, or westerns for that matter. Sakai, of course, makes it worth our while with his richly detailed recreation of feudal Japan. When he sets the plot aside for a number of pages to take us on tour of a soy sauce brewery, showing us the process from soy bean to fermentation, it’s not tangential, it’s part of the fun.
For those who have never picked the book up before this is the first of a two-part story and is a good place to jump on. While it may be light on action, it’s heavy on character and tone and for a book that has such an original take on both those two things, that’s really not a problem. And don’t worry, I’m sure there will be plenty of action in the next issue.