The saying goes, “to know this story is to know Japan” and I have to say that they’re right. Honor above all else is the message of this story. Not just your own honor either, but that of your leader and comrades. The journey of this story has been kind of crazy and while this ending wasn’t the spectacular blood bath that I was expecting, it was still very powerful and moving. As we saw in the last issue, the Ronin have gone through incredible lengths to get their revenge and the night has finally come. Kira has dropped his guard and sent away most of his retainers and so our Ronin have prepared for battle. They’re very careful though and even alert Kira’s neighbor of their intention and ask them to stay indoors and not interfere. They storm the compound and kill all of the retainers in their way losing a few men themselves along the way, but for the most part it’s a clean mission. The only problem is they can’t find Kira even after sealing off the entire house. Until they notice a crooked painting and a hole behind it that even the builder’s son-in-law wasn’t aware of. At last, they have Kira.
This issue is very light on the action. Really there are only a handful of panels with any, but they’re amazing due to Sakai’s artistic talent. Honestly this issue wasn’t anything like what I thought it would be. I was expecting bloodshed and everyone dead at the end due to injury. Instead it was honorable. It was logical and most importantly probable. Richardson did a fantastic job with this series and though the impact of the ending was different than what I was expecting, it will stay with me long after its conclusion.
What can be said about Sakai’s art that hasn’t been said in numerous other reviews or with prestigious awards from the industry? Nothing, but I will try anyways. His art is fantastic and dynamic. The facial expressions from the characters capture so much and Sakai does a fantastic job of keeping the Ronin looking intense. They don’t come off as revenge hungry villains, but rather nervous and yet in control. It’s an incredible visual because you’re able to paint yourself on to the men and feel empathy with their situation.
This is a fantastic series and it’s honestly one that I hope Dark Horse keeps in print for a very long time. It has a timeless feel to it that makes it a worthy classic. The quality of the writing, mixed with the masterful artwork makes it a work that anyone can enjoy. If you missed out on the series then it’s up to you at this point on how you check it out. I would encourage back issues or digital issue, but you could wait for the trade/hardcover which I’m sure will be equally amazing. Whatever option you pick, just be sure to check out this instant classic.
Writer: Mike Richardson
Artist: Stan Sakai
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: 7/3/13