Usagi and his friend Gen stumble upon Sakura, a gambler on a quest to find her long missing brother sold to an umbrella maker after her family was disgraced. Of course Usagi and Gen offer to help her. However, Sakura runs into more trouble and soon adopts a slave girl owned by the local gambling den’s patron. Can Usagi and Gen defend Sakura against the village’s gamblers and other goons who want the girl back?
Every comic book has the potential to be someone’s first and this was my first exposure to Usagi Yojimbo outside of the old Teenage Mutant ninja Turtles cartoon series from the 1980s. I was impressed by how juvenile and immature Usagi was. I expected him to be an old zen master, not someone who hasn’t reached greatness yet. And this is what is charming about this issue where he rushes in to save the girl without thinking. He's brash and young and not this untouchable fighter that no one can defeat. I like that. I also like the frankness of the characters and how he and Gen fight over food. I really enjoyed this comic book and it shows that even after years of knowing about a property, nothing beats firsthand experience.
I really like Sakai’s work. It’s got that Gil Kane vibe I love so much in comic books. It’s filled with somewhat irregular lines and strokes that have not been refined endlessly. I imagine him just lashing out at a blank page without nothing more but the guides in his mind about what he wants to include in his panels. Well that gives his work a lot of energy and brashness.