A wayward samurai visits the final resting place of several of his comrades, begging forgiveness from the spirit of one in particular. The shrine’s priest asks if he can be of help, and the samurai begins to tell of his events from two years previous. The tale is of a daimyo’s trip to the court of the Tokugawa Shogunate to entertain envoys from the Emperor. While at the court, the lord refuses to give into corruption and hand out bribes to his etiquette instructor, thus prompting the instructor to exact revenge in the form of embarrassment and resentment. Fearing he could take no more insults, the daimyo draws his sword and strikes the instructor, dooming himself and possibly his family for failing to adhere to proper court etiquette and the protocols of bushido.
The use of small, informative blurbs about historic Japanese culture allows a reader who is not already familiar with the cultural meanings to understand just what is taking place in the comic, and I really like how it brings not just entertainment, but a sense of teaching, to the story. The concept of honor—of the code of bushido—seems to be very real from what I’ve observed in my own historical lessons, and I applaud the creative team for actually looking into the background well before taking this series on. Many a time have I seen dramatic reenactments of Japanese culture that just don’t seem to fit the mark, and I’m glad that this one seems to have been right.
I also very much enjoy the art style—simple, colorful, but not bland; the style and the colors mix in well with the telling of the story, not overshadowing it with a lot of splash pages, but also allowing the reader to see a colorful depiction of feudal Japan. I do wish there was more scenery than what is shown at the time of this particular issue, but given the specific places involved in the storytelling, I know why it hasn’t been shown . . . yet.
It is rare for me not to find at least something wrong with a comic (or other storytelling medium), but aside from the fact that this takes place “several years ago” according to the narrator (and it’s just two years previous), I couldn’t see anything wrong with this issue. This was a great read for me, and I look forward to the next issue.
The next issue is sure to give a lot more information about just what will happen to the now-disgraced courtier, the striking daimyo, and what the punishment will mean for his family. I’m very eager to find out just how this will last five issues, as it already seems to be close to ending within just the next one. What else can they pull out to make it last as long as they’re planning?