Current Reviews


Usagi Yojimbo #120

Posted: Monday, June 8, 2009
By: Andre Lamar

Stan Sakai
Stan Sakai
Dark Horse Comics
“Merchant Assassination”

Kiyoko is on the run from the police after they notice her stealing food at the market place. In an effort to ditch the cops, she hides in an abandoned temple. In the vacant temple Kiyoko is startled to hear two men arranging a plan to murder the rich merchant Motooka. Although she saw one of the men, Kiyoko was unable to see the other culprit in the temple. Upon returning to Usagi, and a recovering Kitsune, Kiyoko reveals the sinister plan to the ronin rabbit. Usagi then warns the merchant but Motooka dismisses the dastardly plot, believing he doesn’t have any enemies. Nonetheless Motooka’s life is still at stake and Usagi appoints himself as his personal bodyguard.

Author Stan Sakai delivers an entertaining, and straightforward, script for his 120th installment of the Usagai Yojimbo series. Although the script isn’t a one shot story it’s written as such and first time readers will be able to dive straight into this issue. Sakai’s ability to provide bite sized chunks of humor without deviating from the plot works well in Usagai Yojimbo #120. I truly enjoy Kiyoko’s failed effort at lying to Usagi for stealing. Instead of sticking to her initial alibi, involving haggling with a merchant that wanted to sell her overpriced food, she tells the ronin rabbit it was “Free Food Day” at the market place.

Visually Stan Sakai offers a Japanese manga approach to his comic. The entire book is rendered in black and white. Not to mention the characters facial expressions often use blush marks to reflect embarrassment or happiness. Sakai’s lack of color allows readers to appreciate his decent character designs and backgrounds. Since Usagai Yojimbo is approached as more of a manga than an American comic, readers will notice the inconsistencies in the artwork. For instance, characters become less detailed from one page to another. Usually this includes characters featuring beady eyes, or no eyes at all. Normally, artistic inconsistencies serve as a downside to American comics. However this technique works well in Usagai Yojimbo as it’s essentially a Japanese comic, and mangas typically lack detail throughout their panels to give their books a more humorous tone.

Unfortunately at the tail-end of Usagai Yojimbo #120 the plot seems to resolve it’s self a little too quickly. I would have liked to read more background information on the men plotting to kill Motooka. Not to mention utilizing color would add a more compelling aesthetic too.

Usagai Yojimbo#120 is an interesting and funny book. Despite the lack of color in this comic, and a fairly rushed conclusion, it’s still a fun read.

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