Samurai 8: The Tale of Hachimaru Graphic Novel Volume 1 cover image
Rated “T” for “Teen”
Samurai 8: The Tale of Hachimaru is a shonen manga series created and written by Masashi Kishimoto (of Naruto fame) and illustrated by Akira Okubo. VIZ Media is publishing an English-language edition of the manga as a graphic novel series, released under its “Shonen Jump” imprint.
Samurai 8: The Tale of Hachimaru, Vol. 1 (entitled “The First Key” – Chapters 1 to 6) introduces Hachimaru. He has always dreamed of becoming a samurai. Samurai carry special souls within themselves and can travel through space as easily as they walk the earth. Only the most powerful warriors are able to transcend their human bodies and become something even greater – samurai!
Hachimaru, however, is as weak as they come, and he is so sickly that he can’t even eat solid foods. Being too weak to leave his house has turned Hachimaru into an expert at video games, so at least he gets to play samurai video games, at which he is very good. But one day, his father's secrets and the arrival of a samurai cat named “Daruma” combine to give Hachimaru a chance to live his dream. With enough heart, could Hachimaru become a true samurai?
THE LOWDOWN: The Samurai 8: The Tale of Hachimaru manga is creator Masashi Kishimoto's follow-up to his legendary, smash hit manga, Naruto. [The Naruto sequel, Boruto: Naruto Next Generations, is written and drawn by a new writer-artist team.] Kishimoto created Samurai 8 and writes the story and produces the storyboards. Newcomer artist Akira Okubo draws Samurai 8: The Tale of Hachimaru.
Samurai 8: The Tale of Hachimaru Graphic Novel Volume 1 is quite a read. Kishimoto packs the six chapters that comprise Vol. 1 with internal mythology, although the cast, as yet, is not large. The lead character, Hachimaru, seems like a blank slate. What he does share with Naruto is a sense of determination, but Naruto was a more fully formed character in his first volume than Hachimaru is in his first volume. However, Hachimaru's innocence is endearing, and that is the thing that draws me (at least) to him.
I don't know how much of Akira Okubo's work in these first six chapters is drawn with the aid of assistants, but Okubo's graphical style is gorgeous. Okubo draws like the late Moebius, but the younger artist's compositions are not as streamlined as Moebius'. In this first volume, the illustrations are so cluttered that they sometimes fill the graphical storytelling with the kind of static that comes between the artist/storyteller and his audience.
I don't want to make it sound like I have reservations about Samurai 8: The Tale of Hachimaru. I am excited about this series, and like Naruto and Boruto, I am eager for more.
I READS YOU RECOMMENDS: Fans of Naruto will want to try the Shonen Jump title, Samurai 8: The Tale of Hachimaru.