Monday, April 25, 2016

Usagi Yojimbo: Yokai - Stan Sakai

Summary: Yokai are the monsters, demons, and spirits of Japanese folklore, such as the shape-changing kitsune, the obakeneko demon cats, and the evil oni ogres. Usagi faces all these and more when a desperate woman begs for his help in finding her kidnapped daughter. Tracing the abducted girl deep into the forest, Usagi finds it haunted by creatures of Japanese legend and discovers that they are amassing for a great raid on the countryside! Fortunately, Usagi is joined by Sasuke the Demon Queller, who is also fighting to prevent the invasion, but things aren't always as they seem; especially when dealing with the supernatural! (Summary and image from goodreads.com)

My ReviewUsagi Yojimbo is a graphic novel series about an anthropomorphic rabbit who is a ronin--a masterless samurai--traveling through Edo period Japan.  While this series is a fun and worthwhile read, (and I have highly enjoyed the volumes I've read) you don't need to in order to enjoy and understand "Yokai."

As someone who loves monsters of all sorts, "Yokai" was a fun read, following Miyamoto Usagi as he becomes lost in a wood filled with these Japanese demons. It's also a good introduction to the creatures that have inhabited Japanese culture for centuries, and still embody themselves into everyday life.  If you're like me, it will only make you want to search out more information on these monsters.

The story itself is a quick read and straightforward.  Yokai can be scary, but they can also be silly, and this book has a good mix of both. Sakai has always offered a lovely blend of humor mixed with drama, and this book is no exception.

The art is gorgeous--while the regular series implements only black and white line work, in this volume Sakai employs his watercolors, which add another layer to Usagi's world, and are visually pleasing and enriching.

My Rating: Four Stars

For the sensitive reader: sword-wielding ronin rabbit action.

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