My Love of Usagi Yojimbo

I recently turned thirty seven and with that comes a birthday party.  Brooke throws one every year.  I got some awesome stuff this year.

I mean really awesome.

Through all the gifts I received a gift card to Barnes and Noble.  That in itself isn't all that spectacular, but what I bought with it I think was.  Barnes and Noble is one of my favorite stores right now.  I can always find something there.  Whether it be a book, a Funko Pop (That's a "My Love of" blog for another time) or a graphic novel.  I can find something.  This happens to be about the latter.

For weeks now I've been eyeing this bad boy.

Usagi Yojimbo Saga Vol. 1

I've been a fan for years now.  The library has a myriad of the original Mirage studio graphic novels.

I first came across Usagi through Ninja Turtles.  There was something about him that was captivating  The idea of an anthropomorphic samurai rabbit is an amazing idea.  Years later I came across the library's cache of Usagi Yojimbo graphic novels.  I picked up the first one up in hopes that what had drawn me to him on TMNT would pay off.

Pay off it did.

Not only was a sword wielding bunny awesome, but there was more to it.

The culture that it opened up to me was awesome.  I learned about Japanese culture more than I ever thought I would.  Stan Sakai opens up the world of feudal Japan in a great way.  In the guise of a fun animal creatures, you learn about a lot of the ancient Japanese culture.

Heavily inspired by Akira Kurosawa there's lots of sword fighting action.  You'd think that it would be a bloody affair, but Sakai presents it in a way that doesn't take away the violence that has been known to happen in such situations and makes it presentable to even the youngest readers.  Usagi uses his sword to take down bad guys without the blood and gore that should come along with it.  It's adult subject matter presented in a way that you wouldn't be worried if your kids came across it.  Heck I've even introduced both Kylie and Leslie to it and they've asked if I can read this when I'm done.

Usagi is a respectable hero.  Only drawing his sword when he needs to and it's usually only in the defense of himself or the innocent.  Fighting the evil Lord Hikiji and his Neko ninja, Usagi meets a long line of characters that you can't help to get invested in.  From the bounty hunter Gen, the rhino, to the female cat warrior Tomoe Ame.  These are just a few of the interesting characters.

Through Usagi I learned about what it takes to be a samurai.  What a Ronin actually is.  I've even learned some Japanese words and terms.  I became enthralled in Usagi's warrior pilgrimage.  On the surface each story looks simple but always has a deeper meaning in the ongoing story.

Through Usagi I've come to appreciate shows like Samurai Jack, which has many similarities. The best thing is that I've learned from it, like I mentioned before, all why enjoying some fun engaging stories.

Which is the best kind of learning.