‘The Usagi Yojimbo Saga Volume 2 Ltd.:’ Advance Hardcover Review

Hey there, sports fans! It’s another collection for your shelf.

In yet another massive compilation, Usagi Yojimbo’s story continues from the first book, but this one has a lot more in store for you.

I’ve already extolled the incredible skill of Stan Sakai, and I don’t think there’s any way for me to top what I’ve already said, but he has continued to top himself in the stories collected here, including the Eisner Award-winning "Grasscutter."  This story is as massive an undertaking as any I’ve seen in comics, and though there are a myriad of paths and goals, Sakai manages to bring the story to a cohesive and wonderful whole.  Reaching into the origin of the Japanese culture and lands, he weaves a tale wrought with anger, violence, hope, joy, celebration, and mourning.  The gods themselves begin this tale, and their works live on in the lives of the mortals who come upon their leavings.  Mysticism and history combine to make a tale worthy of the term Saga.

The artwork on display once again is a showcase of his talent, evoking a whole range of emotion from the reader, allowing the simplicity of form to convey incredible happiness and heartache all within the same page.  Never allowing a death to pass unnoticed, the care and attention paid to each character gracing his panels shows the depth of respect for each part of his stories and the infinite care he has in crafting them.

I once was told that Eastern and Western art approach things differently (be it visual, martial, performance, or other);  Western artists try to learn and master a range of techniques, working outward in a broad approach to incorporate manyinto their unique style, where Eastern artists delve deep into one subject until they achieve mastery.  This is true in many instances of cultural heritage, from the Tea Ceremony to a longbowman perfecting his craft.  Stan Sakai draws and writes the same character and chemistry, the same action, the same lands, yet with each repetition finds another layer, another foot of depth to mine in order to display his mastery.  There is no mundane here.

If you’re still not hooked on Mr. Sakai’s work, please check out this volume. There’s more to be had between its cover than can be expressed on its pages. It is a journey that will affect you and leave you changed in some way, however small it may appear to be.  There are lessons in this work that can be applied to all our lives, and therein lies the brilliance. Each panel can teach - will you learn?

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Last modified on Monday, 31 December 2018 21:55

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