In the wake of Asano’s tragic death, Oishi and his loyal samurai set their revenge in motion, with a plot that will span many months while taking a tremendous toll on its participants!
The retelling of the 47 Ronin, one of Japan’s most enduring stories, continues this month with the release of book 3 from Dark Horse. This book’s chapters are entitled The Tale of the Loyal Retainers and is written by Mike Richardson with art by Stan Sakai. Kazuo Koike helps out as an editorial consultant with Lovern Kindzierski providing colors. Tom Orzechowski and Lois Buhalis round out the team by providing lettering. With the book coming out every other month, is it worth the wait or does it start to lose steam?
Last issue lord Asano was forced to commit seppuku, a form of ritual suicide, his family and loyal retainers must deal with the coming fallout. The shogun has ruled that castle Ako must be broken up and all of the possessions must be transferred to the shogunate. The members of clan Asano are to be banished and all the retainers are ordered to disband. Plans are being laid as Asano’s chief retainer tries to rally the retainers to abide by the shogun’s orders while he tries to petition for Asano’s name to be restored. Some of them are outraged by the stance and thinks it brings further dishonor to Asano’s name. There is a division, but the chief retainer has been making other plans to help restore Asano’s honor a different way if it is needed. While the political machinations are going on and the Asano clan is faced with this dilemma, Kira, the villain of our story, know that Asano’s retainers will be coming for his head as they seek to avenge their lord. Kira is trying to protect himself, but things are already advancing and the Ronin are coming after him.
Richardson pens another great issue. The first two installments where setting up the situation and this issue serves as the turning point. The two remaining chapters are gearing up for what we’ve been waiting for- the 47 Ronin seeking to avenge Asano. There are a lot of subtitles with the story that has a lot of complex parts. This has been a series that demands a little something from readers. An interest in the culture helps as well. Sakai’s art is fantastic as usual. There are a lot of outraged and shocked people in this issue, and Sakai pulls off those emotions brilliantly. There are a few crowd shots when the retainers look a little too much alike, but there are slight differentiations in the face shape. The colors help compliment the art and help cement the Japanese print influence.
Bottom Line: The 47 Ronin is a fantastic and well researched account for one of Japan’s most famous stories. Richardson and Sakai have crafted something truly special. The 47 Ronin hasn’t been for everyone, but if you enjoy the storytelling it has been a great ride 4/5
Cody "The Thorverine" Ferrell
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