Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Booknote: 47 Ronin

Mike Richardson, 47 Ronin. Milwaukie, OR: Dark Horse Comics, 2014. ISBN: 9781595829542.

This is Dark Horse's version of the classic Japanese true story of bushido, with Kazuo Koike consulting on the tale as well. Koike is very well known for his works such as Lone Wolf and Cub (link to my very brief review of the first volume in the series). The art in this volume is inspired by classic Japanese woodcut work by Ogata Gekko; the result is an art style that evokes the era of the Ronin and their tale of honor and revenge.

The graphic novel opens with a small frame story of a man visiting the Ronin's graves shortly after their honorable deaths. From there, we go straight to Lord Asano's tragic fate and the resolute quest of his retainers to restore the honor of their master. This version of the tale is meticulously researched and excellently illustrated. It is a powerful and moving tale of strong emotion and honor that draws the reader in right away.

Compared to the Shambala edition I read recently, the art in this one is much better: it is in color, and the characters are better defined. Though I like both versions, I do like this one a bit better. However, I would happily collect both for our library here. The story is the same, but the nuances and ways of telling the story vary from one volume to another. The different interpretations are interesting to see, and in the end, I think the readers can decide which version they like better.

In addition, the Dark Horse edition includes various extras such as a cover gallery, bonus artwork, interviews, and other material. If you like these kind of extras, this is for you. I do think they add a bit more value to the volume.

Disclosure note: Yep, you guessed it. I read this book as an e-book review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley. It was provided in exchange for an honest review. So there, we have appeased The Man.

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