Lady Snowblood (aka Syura Yukihme) Vol. #01 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A-

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  • Art Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: Dark Horse
  • MSRP: 14.95
  • Pages: 282
  • ISBN: 1-59307-385-2
  • Size: Short B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Lady Snowblood (aka Syura Yukihme) Vol. #01

By Jarred Pine     October 17, 2005
Release Date: September 07, 2005

Lady Snowblood (aka Syura Yukihme) Vol.#01
© Dark Horse

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Writer: Kazuo Koike / Artist: Kazuo Kamimura
Translated by:Naomi Kokubo
Adapted by:

What They Say
From the pen of Kazuo Koike, of Lone Wolf and Cub fame, comes Lady Snowblood.

A story of pure vengeance, Lady Snowblood tells the tale of a daughter born of a singular purpose, to avenge the death of her family at the hands of a gang of thugs, a purpose woven into her soul from the time of her gestation.

Beautifully drafted and full of bloody, sexy action, Lady Snowblood lives up to its title and reputation.

The Review
The revenge manga that would inspire movies and countless other inspirations gets a solid release from Dark Horse that will please all Koike fans, and serving as a point of reference for all the Kill Bill fans as well.

Finally a Koike title from Dark Horse that isn’t flipped! This volume is packaged in a slightly smaller B6 that is jam-packed at 282 pages. Dark Horse is using the same format as the 2004 Koike Shoin editions that were released in 2004 in order to ride the momentum of Kill Bill when it was released in Japan. In fact, the cover art is the same as the Japanese release which features Kill Bill style lettering and colors with a great illustration of Yuki. This title was shrink-wrapped with a Parental Advisory stick on the cover itself. The print reproduction is solid, with no apparent fading despite the heavy use of black tones.

Kamimura’s artwork is very much based in realism, creating wonderfully detailed work in order to display the cultural aspects and people during the Meiji period of this story. Yuki’s designs are very elegant and pure, with her revenge-filled eyes giving me the chills. He perfectly illustrates her character to match her tragic story. There is a lot of sex and violence in this story, all of which is handled in poetic fashion with Kamimura’s artwork. I also really enjoy the storyboard style of the panels, using a “zoom” camera effect that feels quite cinematic.

The SFX are translated and subbed next to the originals. The subbing job is great, small text mimics the original and never feels like it is cluttering the panels. The translation reads very smooth and there is a glossary in the back that helps explain a lot of the cultural terms. The one thing that seemed slightly awkward to me was the frequent use of “bitch/bitches” to refer to the prostitutes and other women in the story. I’m not familiar with the original terminology, so it might be a valid translation, but to me it just seemed to stick out amongst this Meiji Era story.

Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
Originally created in 1972, Koike’s Lady Snowblood is considered by many to be the ultimate revenge story. The manga would inspire two live-action movies to be created, which Koike co-wrote, as well as Tarantino’s recent homage, Kill Bill, and I’m sure countless other inspirations could be found. With the Kill Bill hype pretty much gone, it will be interesting to see if Dark Horse can still ride that momentum as well as please the English reading Koike fans out there with this wonderful, poetically violent tale of vengeance.

The strength of Koike’s tale hinges greatly on our heroine of avengement, Yuki, who is referred to as “Lady Snowblood”. The Meiji Era assassin-for-hire vignettes set up entertaining stories, filled with political and social commentary, but it is by seeing this world through the eyes of Yuki that this story becomes quite intriguing and horrifying. Born in a women’s prison for the sole purpose of revenge, Yuki now travels the land doing assassin jobs for the higher-ups and powerful heads of families.

These jobs though are merely training for Yuki, as her sole purpose is to find 3 of the remaining killers of her parents. The little twist on her story is that Yuki has no memory of her parents; her father and older brother were murdered before she was born and her mother died while giving birth to her in prison. Her mother’s thirst for revenge lives on inside of her soul, as she learns about the tragic story of her parents through the midwife that helped with Yuki’s birth. Since day one of her life, Yuki has been “programmed” for revenge. She carries herself with elegance, trained in many of the cultural arts, using all these tools to help her with her trade. She will kill off her targets in a pool blood as well as use non-violent tactics in order to land them in the hands of the authorities.

They way that Yuki skillfully and cold-heartedly carries out her tasks is exciting, but it’s the tragic sadness behind her actions that draws me to her character. It’s not her pin-point or acrobatic attacks with her sword that make her interesting, but rather that emotionless look on her face and those steely eyes that gives me the shivers. Yuki will calmly place herself on the verge of rape, or possibly actually being raped, only to lure in her victims in order to lower their guards so she can jump in for the bloody attack and then walk away like nothing happened. She knows no fear, but does someone who was raised for revenge know any other emotions? Her character fascinates me. While we don’t get to see Yuki get her revenge in this volume, what we learn from her background story and assassin jobs really turns her into quite the character despite her not saying too many words.

Dark Horse scores well here by finally releasing a Koike title un-flipped and jam-packed with content. Koike fans and those looking for the origins of the Kill Bill story should be quite pleased with this release. Touted by some as the ultimate revenge story, it is not the story that has sold me on this title but rather the complex and tragic lead character. The assassin-for-hire vignettes intertwined with political and social commentary are entertaining, but it’s by watching this emotionless beauty at work and figuring out what she’s like behind those steely eyes that really draws me to this title. Highly Recommended.


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