Richardson and Sakai’s ballad to Japan continues this month and while there isn’t much action or suspense, it does offer tender character moments that set the series up for a fantastic conclusion. Oishi Kuranosuke has given up his life for his master and now finds himself stumbling around as drunk with no honor. He passes out in the street and a beggar attempts to pick his pocket until a samurai stops him. The samurai begins to pick Oishi up, when he recognizes him and throws him back down. He demands that as a samurai he lift himself up and when he cannot he calls him out in the middle of the street. In an even bigger disgrace he takes his long sword and spits on him. Later Oishi awakens and stumbles to a whore house that he’s been staying in and sleeps the night away.
The story checks in with Isogai Masahisa as his fiancé has tracked him down finally. He’s working a job and the foreman won’t let her talk to him directly, but passes on a message to him. Isogai tells the foreman to tell her to forget about him and move on with her life. She runs away crying and Isogai begins to cry as well while he continues his work.
The story flips back over to Oishi whose own family has tracked him down and is begging for him to come home. He grabs his son and tells him that he can stay, but publicly divorces his wife and disowns the rest of his family. He leaves his wife in tears in the street while he takes his son away and Kira’s spys witness the entire event.
If you’re not looking to be bummed out then you may want to skip this issue because it’s a bummer for sure. We basically see how far these men are willing to go in order to get their revenge and its taken years to get to the point they’re at and now they must sacrifice even more. The chances of them surviving the siege on Kira’s home are pretty slim, which means that most of the men won’t ever get to see their families again and tell them they’re sorry for the things they’ve said and done. It’s a tragedy for sure.
The writing and art are once again perfectly balanced and feed off of each other. Richardson’s writing is improved via Sakai’s art and vice versa. Frankly if you’re not reading this story then you’re missing out on one of the best series of Dark Horse’s publishing career.
Writer: Mike Richardson
Artist: Stan Sakai
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: 5/1/13