Samurai bunnies fun for everyone

Ally Melling

Photo Courtesy of Dark Horse Comics.

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

You may be wondering how a comic book about a samurai bunny could possibly be so awesome.

To quote Monty Python and the Holy Grail: “This is no ordinary rabbit.”

Dark Horse Comics’ “Usagi Yojimbo” is a stylish, action-packed monthly release that has been praised by the comic world for decades.

In this feudal Japanese setting, “Usagi Yojimbo” (translating to “rabbit bodyguard”) is Miyamoto Usagi, a masterless, ronin samurai wandering the country as a bodyguard-for-hire. Usagi never lets the innocent go unprotected. Whether up against one bandit or thirty ninjas, Usagi never compromises the Bushido samurai code and sheaths his swords only when the job is done.

The newly released issue number 91 wraps up the two-part storyline of “The Ghost in the Well.”

Part one left Usagi deep within the bowels of Geishu Castle, trying to solve a fantastic murder that had left all others clueless. He was baffled when the only murder clues pointed him in the direction of a woman who had died more than a decade ago.

In the conclusion of “The Ghost in the Well,” Usagi must team up with friend Tomoe Ame to solve a new murder in addition to the previous one. The mystery is heightened when he becomes a suspect himself. It is up to Usagi to prove his innocence and solve the mystery of the Geisha ghost before the body count rises.

“Usagi Yojimbo”

Written and drawn by Stan Sakai

Published by Dark Horse Comics

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Since its inception, “Usagi Yojimbo” has proven itself to be more than a cutesy action cartoon with animal motifs through adult undertones, violence and heart.

A combination of wonderful writing and fantastic artwork has earned “Usagi Yojimbo” creator Stan Sakai countless honors, including multiple Eisner Awards (basically the Pulitzer of the comic world).

“Usagi Yojimbo” came into popularity during the height of the mid-’80s black-and-white-comic boom, shortly following newcomers Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird and their new comic, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” When “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” became popular enough to earn its own 1989 cartoon, Usagi even made guest appearances in episodes.

It was the fresh creativity and raw content that left “Usagi Yojimbo” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” as two of the few books to survive the late-’80s downfall in black-and-white-comic popularity.

Today, 20 years since its first printing, “Usagi Yojimbo” continues to run strong.

Sakai’s engrossing tales of the ronin bunny seem to channel a mixture of Akira Kurosawa and Tex Avery and consistently showcase ’70s kung-fu cinema visuals steeped in historical accuracy.

Though the books are not bogged down with history, nearly every issue also gives the reader a small lesson in Japanese culture. Informative tidbits range from random Japanese words explaining names for tools or clothing to common phrases and customs. There are also occasional lessons on major battles and fables that are the basis for the entire Japanese culture.

Not convinced yet?

Throw down the $3 and buy this latest issue. Whether for a younger person or an older audience, “Usagi Yojimbo” remains a notable literary work and one badass bunny.

Contact ALL correspondent Ally Melling at [email protected].