There are sixteen tales of murder, revenge, love, lust, hope, and silliness, each given room to breathe in this 700-page omnibus.
Along for the ride are two new characters, who help split the stories with Asaemon. Sakane Kasajiro, one of Edo’s best policemen, and his wife Sakane Shinko, who is a reformed criminal. Koie and Kojima use the pair to step out of their own box of individual stories to focus on the growth of a couple. The ups and downs, how they each grow with each other. How they learn to love each other even more. It’s an incredible contrast showing this living, breathing life amidst the constant death that Asaemon is having to contemplate. Together, he learns a great deal and so do we.
If you want to be a storyteller in any genre, I recommend you read Koie and Kojima’s works, Executioner or Lone Wolf and Cub. Comic book creator, filmmaker, novelist, poet, artist – you’ll learn so much about what it means to tell an effective story through words and through images. There isn’t a moment wasted in the entirety of this book. Even in the silent moments. It’s beautiful. A work of art. And, it was the second time reading a comic in the last week in which I suddenly started crying. You’re simply drawn into the work, into this world, and even when you’re done, it won’t let you go.