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The 47 Ronin HC

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  • 47 Ronin, The

    Released by: Dark Horse Comics
    Released on: February 19, 2014
    Purchase From Amazon

    This hardcover collection gathers the five-issue series telling this popular old Japanese tale. Written by Dark Horse president Mike Richardson and illustrated by Usagi Yojimbo's Stan Sakai this version is an excellent and faithful telling of the story of Oishi and his quest to avenge his wronged master in feudal Japan.

    Based on actual events the story of the 47 Ronin has been put into popular formats several times over, in a variety of formats. The basic story is as follows: Lord Asano is spending time with his duties at the castle of the Shogun. However, he soon runs afoul of a corrupt official named Kira who provokes Asano into attacking him in the castle. The penalty for this action is death but Asano, a simple and honorable samurai lord, meets his end true to the samurai code of bushido.

    His sentencing is quick, though, due to more corruption and small-mindedness and the full sentence forces Asano's castle to be handed over to the Shogun's forces. As his chief retainer, Oishi is not satisfied with this but knows he has no chance of revenge against Kira unless he complies with the sentence. Oishi is clever and manages to secure the commitment of many other retainers to a plan of revenge.

    This plan involves a long waiting period, with each of those committed to the plan having to make themselves appear to truly be masterless samurai, despicable ronin. This way, they're finally able to get Kira to let down his guard long enough for the 47 to mount their surprise attack. They carry off their attack, finally, and are able to bring Kira's head to Asano's gravesite in final fulfillment of their promise of honor. For this action, though, they are sentenced to death by the Shogun - but are all allowed to die with honor, all committing seppuku and respectfully buried.

    “To know the story of the 47 is to know the story of Japan.” This quote is featured as the driving force behind this telling of the story, according to the interview with Mike Richardson included in this collection. Other extras in the Behind the Scenes of 47 Ronin include a gallery of the five single-issue covers, an interview with Stan Sakai, a short bit about legendary Japanese comic writer Kazuo Koike's assistance in getting this version created, an overview of the prints of artist Ogata Gekko who created many famous woodblock prints of the story in the late-19th century, and author bios.

    This version of the story - as “Japanese” a story about Japan as exists but told by an outsider - is perfectly suited to the comic book format. Dark Horse's production is a thorough telling of the story that doesn't get too mired down in historical details, retaining just enough to keep the story moving at a pace. Richardson's handled the source material and pared it down quite nicely in this way. And the rich visuals from longtime vet Sakai also suit this telling of the story perfectly. A fantastic match-up and well worth picking up for any fans of the story, old and new alike.
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