Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Graphic Novel Review: 47 Ronin by Stan Sakai & Mike Richardson

Japan’s enduring national legend comes to comics! The tale of the 47 Ronin and their epic mission to avenge their wronged master epitomizes the samurai code of honor, and creators Mike Richardson and Stan Sakai have done justice to their story! Meticulously researched and beautifully illustrated, this collection of the acclaimed miniseries recounts this sweeping saga of honor and violence in all its grandeur. Opening with the tragic incident that sealed the fate of Lord Asano, 47 Ronin follows a dedicated group of Asano’s vassals on their years-long path of vengeance!

I have always had an interest in Japanese history and culture.  It is not something I know a lot about but I enjoy reading about it.  I had heard of the story of the 47 Ronin but didn’t really know what it was about.  Unfortunately the first taster I had of it was the trailer for the movie which featured a woman that could turn into a dragon and a man that looked a little fish like.  So naturally I assumed that this legend dabbled in the supernatural.  That assumption could not have been more wrong.

47 Ronin is actually a true story about a group of samurai who avenge their wronged leader.  It is about honour and courage not dragons and fish men.  If you go to Japan you can actually visit these men’s graves and learn all about their amazing bravery and sacrifice. 

The graphic novel tells this story well enough it is detailed and well pieced together.  The illustrations are very classic and simplistic in their approach.  There are no big pictures or bright colours it is muted which really fit the time period of the novel and the subject matter.  What I really liked about this graphic novel was the added information at the end.  There are pages of stuff about the legend, Japan, the author and the men involved.  It is really interesting stuff and added a sense of realism that you don’t ever really get in graphic novels.

There are flashier and brighter Samurai graphic novels out there but if you want something a little different based on a true story with a ton of extra history thrown in then 47 Ronin is for you.  I really enjoyed it.

3 stars

Published February 19th 2014 by Dark Horse Comics.  Book Cover courtesy of Goodreads.  A free copy was provided by the publisher.

Review written by Kate Phillips 

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