Comic Review: Usagi Yojimbo: Origins Vol. 1 (IDW Publishing)

IDW Publishing releases a graphic novel about the origins of a wandering samurai with some amazing tales in Usagi Yojimbo Origins Vol.1. So, this is the comic that before it […]

IDW Publishing releases a graphic novel about the origins of a wandering samurai with some amazing tales in Usagi Yojimbo Origins Vol.1.

So, this is the comic that before it became an inspiration just to have the manga series Rurouni Kenshin, however, this comic came out in 1984, the same year as the manga series Dragon ball came out, so this year marks the 37th anniversary of Usagi Yojimbo series. Now, I never heard of this series before, but I’ve seen this comic from one of the TMNT comics which shows a lot of cameos including this one. But since I have some knowledge of the Japanese culture, then this review should be a breeze. The comic is created by Stan Sakai or Masahiko Sakai, he’s a Japanese American cartoonist and comic book creator who has a long history drawing Usagi Yojimbo series. Before drawing that comic, he began his career by lettering comics and wrote and illustrated comics such as “The Adventures of Nilson Groundthumper and Hermy”, a comic series with a medieval setting. What makes him amazing for creating Usagi Yojimbo, is the whole plot which involves medieval Japan in the late-sixteenth and early-seventeenth century. I always think that the Japanese artists actually become so amazing and I always admire them. He and Yoshitaka Amano are not really that for illustrators to draw something amazing, and I want to talk about Sakai’s art style later.

The front cover shows a distinctive scene that represents the battle during the Edo period. Here is Usagi wearing samurai armor and wielding its sword, riding a horse, battling against the soldiers throughout the war and somehow this is becoming more of a samurai drama show, except this comic took place during the age of civil wars. So the story goes about a warrior named Miyamoto Usagi who is battling against the soldiers of Lord Hikini because he took away Lord Mifune’s life. Then it became to know that the Shogun brought peace to the land and the Samurai found themselves unemployed, but for Usagi, he had to travel and his allies around the country just to hone their spiritual and martial skills, just to defeat Lord Hikiji and his armies. After that, Usagi continues to travel across the nation as a wanderer, searching for harmony. Before all these events happened, when he was a child he was raised by a family of samurais, however, he and Kenichi is sent to the Dogora Fencing School to learn of their souls of the samurai, then one day they saw another samurai who just insulted the way of the fencing school because one of the students are being arrogant because they think that they’re better than him because his swordsmanship skills have no place for the likes of them. The samurai just single-handedly took them down, and the children just saw him very amazed with his skills, and he was determined to become one of his students. After that, the master made him do all the labor work just to raise his metabolism as a warrior and to become more disciplined. And he taught the actual basics of a samurai, just to develop a strong spirit and soul. The sword is the soul of the samurai and his badge of the station. After a few years later, he learned very well of the ways of a warrior and he is very well disciplined to become a samurai warrior with his soul and spirit. The rest of the story goes on how he and his friend Kenichi was reunited, but he was more twisted than before. And they fought some wars with each other, after those events Usagi had a big adventure meeting new allies and fought battles for himself, and he goes on another journey as a wanderer.

I find the story very interesting in the fact that Usagi’s journey is never-ending and it makes it inspirational for readers out there. I really do like samurai stories, even the Rurouni Kenshin manga series is amazing, to begin with, I find this comic series to be more amazing to know the whole story of his origins, of any other samurai story that I’ve ever witnessed. The art is incredible too. Not only that the artwork is similar to the TMNT series, but the art style is manga-like style too, especially an art style similar to Akira Toriyama. The characters are very lovable and it seems that the characters interact whenever they started a battle or something is going on. Usagi’s facial expression almost shows how serious he is. After I read the whole Rurouni Kenshin manga series, I see what’s the difference between the characters’ personalities, and they seemed to be determined to learn swordsmanship, but in a peaceful way. Too bad that there’s a lot of deaths around in this world. Usagi’s journey is actually more of learning self-discipline and learning the way of the samurai, while Kenshin Himura proclaims to be skillful in swordsmanship and vows that he would never kill again and became a traveler, which is more of going on a Musha Shugyo over the principle of not killing and lives with his wife at a dojo afterward his wandering days are over. So anyway, Usagi Yojimbo is an amazing comic to read, and I look forward to having another samurai story to read.

About Kevin Bermeo

I'm a New Yorker Artist, and I traveled a lot. I enjoy making comics, illustrations, paintings, and digital art. Besides drawing, I'm also a writer, I used to be a Gamer, and I love adventures, food, and dragons.