Review: 47 Ronin #2

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Lord Asano is goaded into an assault by a corrupt court official in the Shogun’s palace, and then forced to commit seppuku! Learning that Asano was sentenced without a proper investigation, his retainers set in motion a plan to enact revenge on the official whose insults proved too much for Asano to bear.

47 Ronin is written by Mike Richardson with art and cover by Stan Sakai. Lovern Kinkzierski provides color with Tom Orzechowski and Lois Buhalis working on lettering. The comic book adaptation of one of the most famous stories in Japan continues with book 2, The Tale of the Loyal Retainers.  Does the second of five chapters do the legend justice?

ronin coverLord Asano has found himself in a tough situation. After going to the Shogun’s palace to learn proper court etiquette but being dishonored by a corrupt and greedy teacher, Asano drew his sword in the palace. The crime is punishable by death. Asano defended his honor, but the court official’s word against his works in the court official favor.  The investigation into the incident and the punishment are the focus of this issue. Lord Asano’s fate is decided after a hastily thrown together investigation. While that is happening at the palace, word finally arrives at Lord Asano’s estate. His men are none too happy to hear what has transpired. While the court proceedings are happening, they decide what course of action they will take.

Richardson continues to adeptly adapt the tale of the 47 Ronin in this chapter. Lord Asano stays true to his sense of honor while facing down the corrupt official. The characters are put into place and a course of action is laid out. There are several Japanese terms in the text, but Richardson spells them out through the character’s conversation or actions through the art. Sakai does a great job of making the Japanese story feel authentic. There are times when his work on character’s faces feels off or too similar to other characters, but there are only a handful of times.

Bottom Line: The 47 Ronin is one Japanese tale that works perfectly in the comic book medium. Richardson and Sakai make the story feel Japanese while being accessible to all readers. If you’re a fan of the culture and its legends, this is certainly one to check out 4.5/5

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