By Avi Weinryb
Jul 19, 2007 - 19:40
I recently became a fan of Koike and Kojima’s Lone Wolf and Cub series, so it was with great pleasure that I undertook reading the first volume of their Samurai Executioner. Dark Horse’s manga division has kept the Japanese format, and Dana Lewis has done an excellent job translating the text to English.
The first volume in the series introduces the title character, Kubikiri Asa. He is the son of a ronin and is extremely adept with a sword, katana included. When he is enlisted to serve as a local executioner for his town, he must keep his wits as sharp as his weapons. Treachery is everywhere and each chapter of the volume brings new obstacles and dangerous characters. As the tale progresses, Kubikiri Asa, also known as ‘Decapitator Asaemon’, develops at a slow pace. He always remains a mystery. His motivations are pure but unknown. He is a stranger amongst men, and the wielder of the sword Onibocho.
As always, the late Goseki Kojima’s artwork is stunning. Characters emote deeply and sincerely through as little as a stare. Life is thrown onto the page in a masterful fashion that can only be summed up as perfect. Every line of ink stands on its own accord, daring the reader to turn the page without taking a longer look.
The gorgeously rendered artwork is sustained by Kazuo Koike’s deft writing skills. He is deeply familiar with the ancient Japan he depicts, and the story flows effortlessly as the protagonist moves from one trial to the next. Especially poignant was the final chapter of volume one, featuring a women’s prison attendant.
The creative team meshes their voices together, crafting an excellent book that is poignant in its depiction of love, honour, and sacrifice. Dark Horse Manga offers each volume with a different coloured band running across the spine, making the books addictively collectible and attractive for display.
Highly recommended for manga fans, East Asian history buffs, and comic fans in general. This is an excellent book.
9.8 / 10
Avi Weinryb is a feature writer at The Comic Book Bin.