Usagi and Inspector Ishida identify the recent murder victims and find that their backgrounds hint at a much larger conspiracy. With the key piece of evidence robbed off the corpses by a thief, however, our daring duo must race against the clock to retrieve it before the killers do!
I jumped into Usagi Yojimbo the last issue at the request of a bunch of GFC Members (whoop! whoop!) and I'm glad I did. After the initial shock of reading a book of just pencils and inks, I was fully onboard and really wanting more. Well, more has arrived and I couldn't wait to jump in.
The issue opens with a little recap of last issue. Usagi and Inspectors Ishida and Nii are looking over the little evidence they have (which identifies the dead body as a Kirishitan) when Cheif Inspector Ito arrives to see what's up and throw shade Usagi's way. While it seems very personal, Ishida assures Usagi that Ito is an equal opportunity hater...he hates all Ronin. I'm sure that really made Usagi feel so much better!
A big thing that happened here was that Ishida did not tell Ito that there were Kirishitan involved and explains that if Ito knew that major piece of info, he would have closed the case quickly to avoid trouble and Ishida is a man of justice.
The little evidence they have leads them to question the gate guards from the previous night which leads them to one of the nearby inns. The investigation doesn't go far as the guards are attacked by assassins and while Usagi jumps in to save them, only one survives. He does kill all the assassins, though. Lots of killing going on in this book!
The remaining guard does have some really important information that expands the scope of the murders and leads Ishida and Usagi to the Ogawa Clan for questioning. To say things didn't go well may be an understatement and they are left with some threats thrown their way and more questions.
We then get a bit of a discussion about foreigners and the Kirishitan that once again shows that Ishida is a pretty good and open-minded guy before the two head off to the Inn to get some information from a crazy source.
This is a much more quiet issue than the first of the arc. We get some detective work, but the best thing for me was seeing the interactions between Ishida and Usagi. I must admit, Ishida is easily my favorite character in the book and I love how he goes about his business of Inspector. Sakai does a great job of showing so much with such little effort...bureaucracy, racism, elitism...that you get a lot of information without the usual halt in pacing. It all just flows as you read.
The art is still the first thing that any new reader will focus on and again, it is simplistic on the surface but really sets the tone and mood and Sakai uses little cues to tell more than most artists can. It is part of the storytelling and I really like it.
Bits and Pieces:
As a new reader to Usagi Yojimbo, I am impressed with the amount of information Sakai gives in each issue while still telling a well-paced story. Part history lesson, part detective story, part action movie, this book has a lot going for it. It's no wonder that Usagi Yojimbo has lasted so long and has droves of fans. After reading this issue and the last, you can add at least one more fan to that list!