At first glance you’re likely to think that Punk Ass Samurai is the newest manga to be ported over from Japan; and why wouldn’t you? It’s got the look, the substance, even just having “Samurai” in the title gives the impression of a newly translated series… but it’s not and that’s honestly what makes this first issue so impressive. The story is set in the near future, but is riddled with references to popular music scenes of this millennium. The setting is Scenester City which is awesome because you either get that or you don’t. The issue actually opens up with a great back story in which Punks were more of a race/culture of people that congregated and lived in one location rather than a scene of music spread throughout.
Within the issue itself Sid (the last punk aka Punk Ass Samurai) and his longtime friend Richie (SXE Mosh Ninja) have come to the big city to learn more about the Scenesters. They convince their new friend Johnny D (Rude Boy) to take them to a bar where they can get drinks and information. The bar keep busts out some special sake for Sid and he chugs it like an asshole and ends up revealing himself to the Emo bounty hunters looking to collect on his head. At this point the story pops up a wanted poster that is pretty damn funny and cool looking and now we get to see if this Punk Ass Samurai can live up to his name or not.
First off the world that’s created here is cool in concept, it’s still new so don’t expect it to feel fleshed out and populated. It is just fifteen pages and mainly focused on introducing the characters, but the story has a wonderful flow. The pacing is steady which keeps the story interesting. If anything I would have liked to hang out with the characters more.
The conflict against the Emo kids was humorous, but also entertaining. Again it was all manga influenced in its execution and it just goes to show that you really can use the formula for North American storytelling. Kudos to JR Norfleet for rocking an excellent script with dialogue that’s actually funny.
The art oozes with the same influence as the story. There are two artists on the issue and I couldn’t tell you when one begins and the other ends they’re that damn seamless. Rebecca Saffran and Charlene Shuhart do a tremendous job with their visual storytelling and produce some of the finest manga inspired art you’ll find outside of Japan. I wasn’t joking at all when I said this could be mistaken for a translated piece of work.
The action sequence in the bar was not only easy to follow, it was cool. It also wasn’t too over the top giving the action somewhere to go, but giving the reader just enough to know that our boys can throw down and will. The character designs have a punk esthetic to them, but again there’s the pinch of near future style to them as well. Overall it was a wonderfully crafted world.
The first issue is a quick read, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t want more instantly. There’s definitely a larger story to be told as this falls into the “Shonnen” style of storytelling so hopefully the team will be back with more. Honestly publishers would be stupid not to pick this series up. Just the combination of references is enough to hook you, but then the fact that it’s a well put together issue is even better.