Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Usagi Yojimbo and The Sakai Project


Usagi Yojimbo is a fantastic series - blending the best parts of American storytelling, and Japanese setting. Created by Stan Sakai, over 30 years ago, the Rabbit Bodyguard Miyamoto Usagi, is loosely based after real life Samurai Miyamoto Musashi. Thoroughly researched, the stories of Usagi Yojimbo detail elements, both major and mundane, of Japanese history and culture. It was a fantastic learning experience - all while being entertained by the hero of the book on his adventures.


Usagi Yojimbo has been on hiatus for 2 years, while Stan illustrated the epic comic "47 Ronin". Now, finally, Usagi is back -- and he's coming back in a HUGE way, with a special mini-series called Senso (War). This mini-series is unique and exciting - as it features a story where, it's posited, what if Aliens from H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds landed in Japan first - during Usagi's time period. Its a wacky, but extremely fun premise, which shocked me to see! A space ship crash lands, during an epic war, in Feudal Japan!


As if that wasn't exciting enough - Senso also shifts 20 years into Usagi's future. He is now once again a full Samurai, serving under the Geishu Clan - leading their army. Gen, another former Ronin Bounty hunter also acts as a general for the Geishu Clan. Usagi's son Jataro (who supposedly doesn't know Usagi is his father) also serves as a Samurai in the war. All these revelations -- it's mindboggling to me, who's been reading the series on and off for years -- seeing the Wandering Ronin Samurai, suddenly engaged in a massive war again.


The proper Usagi Yojimbo (without aliens) will return after the Senso Mini-series concludes. It's a wonderful series, and I hope if you interested, to visit a comic store and check it out. (They might have to order the series for you, though; the series isn't always heavily ordered. BUT - books and volumes are ALWAYS available on Amazon, and other book carriers.)

The Sakai Project

Here is a video, showing Stan appearing at San Diego Comic Con, answering questions about Usagi Yojimbo, and about the Sakai Project. (its sort of hard to hear; I also sped it up to where they start talking)

The Sakai Project is a wonderful outpouring of help and support from the Comic Community, when Stan Sakai's wife fell ill, and they needed help with medical costs not paid for by insurance. Comic creators from all over contributed artwork, to sell on ebay -- and so much art work was given, they decided to create a Hardcover volume, showcasing the artwork.


The volume, though, ISN'T available on Amazon.com, or other major retailers. You have to order it through specialty comic stores. Most have probably already ordered their copies -- so online stores are the best bet. I bought mine here, at Dreamlandcomics.

All proceeds of the book go directly into a fund, to help with care for Stan's ailing wife. Thats why Amazon doesn't carry it; Darkhorse Comics wanted all proceeds to go directly into the fund. If you want to help support Mr. Sakai, ordering the book certainly helps. Reading Usagi Yojimbo, and buying issues or volumes, probably helps too ^_^


I really look forward to seeing the amazing artwork from all these generous creators.

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