I’ll basically say that I’m a sucker for the samurai genre. I’ll give anything a shot, but I’m very picky about what I like and don’t like; there are no free passes. That being said I’m also a sucker for Highlander and this book raised all the hairs on the back of my neck when it combined the two of them together! That’s essentially the genre gist of the book, but not the story. The story opens with a samurai defending himself against three men he’s calling brother, they on the other hand are calling him a traitor and spy. The man, Amane finds himself mortally wounded from the battle and crashed in front of a tattoo artist’s home. The tattoo artist comes out and informs the man that he’s on death’s door, but the man begs him to save him. Two days later the man wakes up and wonders how he’s still alive. The tattoo artist explains that he tattooed an Oni demon into the man that gives him near invincibility/immortality.
The man freaks out not knowing what to do about the demon inside of him. The tattoo artist informs him that the authorities are looking for him and asks him to stay on as his apprentice. Years pass and the tattoo artist becomes very ill. He reveals that he had another apprentice once that became overwhelmed by his Oni soon became a murderer. He says that the old apprentice would cut the hearts out of his victims and consume the heart. This sounds suspiciously like the way that Amane’s sister died which plunged his life into chaos to begin with.
I really feel like I didn’t do this story justice in my review, but I will say that this is a very good book with a strong concept and great pacing. You spend enough time with the characters that these gaps in their past or missing chunks of their story really don’t matter. There are a lot of books adapted for the US market from Japan and frankly a lot of them suck. Sure there are those long running series that everyone seems to get into, but gems like this tend to slip through the cracks.
Thankfully Dark Horse adapted this from the novel Ura-Enma by Fumi Nakamura and did a fantastic job of making it work in the US format. The translation is smooth and makes sense from beginning to end. Really at the end of the day its Highlander set in Japan with a Batman/Joker (you created me, I created you) element to it that makes it interesting and a fun read.
Writer: Ian Edginton Artist: Vincenc Villagrasa Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Release Date: 12/21/11