Path of the Assassin (aka: Hanzou no Mon) Vol. #04 -

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Mania Grade: A-

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  • Art Rating: B-
  • Packaging Rating: C+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 18 & Up
  • Released By: Dark Horse
  • MSRP: 9.95
  • Pages: 299
  • ISBN: 1-59307-505-7
  • Size: Bunko
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Path of the Assassin (aka: Hanzou no Mon) Vol. #04

By Matthew Alexander     February 14, 2007
Release Date: December 27, 2006

Path of the Assassin (aka: Hanzou no Mon) Vol.#04
© Dark Horse

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Story by Kazuo Koike / Art by Goseki Kojima
Translated by:Naomi Kokubo with assistance by Jeff Carlson
Adapted by:Naomi Kokubo with assistance by Jeff Carlson

What They Say
Path of the Assassin is the story of a young shogun on his way to unite Japan, and the trusty ninja assigned to protect him. Be it in crafty maneuverings of war, political push and pull, or bedroom adventures, young Hattori Hanzo will not be kept from his duties.

The Review
The Path of the Assassin series has an amazing amount of political intrigue as it follows the rise of Ieyasu with the help of Hanzo Hattori, and volume four is no different. Up to this point, Ieyasu has been the pawn of the Overlord Yoshimoto. But with Yoshimoto's death at the hands of Oda Nobunaga, Ieyasu must make the biggest decision of his life. Should he side with Ujizane, Yoshimoto's replacement, side with Nobunaga, or strike out on his own? Eventually Ieyasu strikes out on his own, making enemies with both Nobunaga and Ujizane, and every other samurai lord with ambitions of ruling the country.

Ieyasu's decision to go against Ujizane puts his wife and young child, who are still in Ujizane's castle, in harms way. Ujizane is putting to the sword the wife and children of every general opposing him, but he's trying a different tact with Ieyasu's wife, Ujizane decides to take advantage of her body and hopefully knock her up with his own child before sending her back to Ieyasu. It remains to be seen whether she is pregnant with Ujizane's child.

Hanzo must also fight for his woman in this volume. Tsukumo, the ninja girl Hanzo deflowered in the last volume, has a very formidable father. Her father is the head ninja for an enemy clan and he is more than happy to see his daughter marry Hanzo. However, this means his daughter is dead to him and Hanzo will be his enemy the next time they meet.

I really like this series and the other titles by Koike and Kojima, but I have a love/hate relationship with Dark Horse's Packaging for this particular title. The last volume was nice a crisp after the first two volumes had problems with blurred printing. Now, volume four is good for most of the book, but towards the end there is a lot of blurred dialogue text, which made my head hurt.


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