Once again I am in awe of Stan Sakai‘s brilliance in storytelling. Usagi Yojimbo: Two Hundred Jizo is another example of the amazing gift that Sakai has for adding new and exciting elements to his long running series, while remaining true to the heart of the titular character and his journey. In the 29th volume, the ronin rabbit continues his travels through Edo period Japan, and in what becomes a common thread throughout all of the collected stories, encounters lovers and creators of art and those who would do them harm.
The theme of art is introduced in the first story, “The Artist,” as Usagi must protect an incredible painter from men who forbid foreign forms of art. As the stories progress, Usagi comes across skilled potters, poets, and other artisans who use their talents for boasting or for the benefit of others.
As usual, the latest addition of Usagi Yojimbo is rife with philosophical ideas, deeply human characters (oh, the irony), and of course, its fair share of humor. My favorite line comes from Usagi himself as he thinks, “Artists! They’re worse than spoiled children.” Drawn and written by Sakai, this line had me laughing out loud.
Reading a new volume of Usagi Yojimbo is like seeing a close friend after an extended period apart: some things are new, but the most important aspects remain the same, and the interaction is beautifully familiar. I encourage you to pick up Two Hundred Jizo, whether you’ve read this comic before or not, it’ll feel just right.