Mania Grade: A-
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- Art Rating: B
- Packaging Rating: B+
- Text/Translatin Rating: B+
- Age Rating: 18 & Up
- Released By: Dark Horse
- MSRP: 9.95
- Pages: 317
- ISBN: 1-59307-210-4
- Size: Bunko
- Orientation: Right to Left
Samurai Executioner (aka: Kubikiri Asa) Vol. #04
By Matthew Alexander
September 27, 2006
Release Date: February 09, 2005
Samurai Executioner (aka: Kubikiri Asa) Vol.#04
© Dark Horse
Writer/Artist:Story by Kazuo Koike Art by Goseki Kojima
Translated by:Dana Lewis
Adapted by:What They Say
A frenetic mix of samurai honor, base violence, and the blood of beheading, Samurai Executioner is not for the faint of heart. For those who love blood and guts crime drama, historical fiction, and brutal action, this is right up your alley. The men who brought you Lone Wolf & Cub also created Kubikiri Asa, a young ronin samurai who helps keep the peace by putting the fear of beheading into Edo's criminals.
Full of squirting blood, fast-paced samurai swordwork, and the drama that comes from human corruption, Samurai Executioner is like no other classic manga.The Review
Making a living as an executioner could eventually turn a normal man into a heartless machine. Executioner Yamada is no normal man. Even after executing an imposing number of both men and women, Yamada still has strong convictions and believes human life is very precious. He also believes that each convicted criminal deserves to die with dignity.
A good example of this is the story 'Season of New Straw'. Yamada does not have a wife, but one day a woman selling fresh straw explains to him that women like placing new straw in their hair. Supposedly the straw increases blood flow and makes a woman's hair healthier and hence prettier. Yamada buys some straw and the next time he executes a woman he presents her with the gift of straw. No longer frantic at her impending doom, the woman prisoner calms down while she places the straw in her hair. This allows Yamada to execute her with a smile on her face instead of an expression of pure dread.
Something I really enjoy about Koike's writing is the historical foundation. He expertly uses fiction to highlight many aspects of Japanese history. During the Edo period, the merchant class was growing very wealthy. Since there was no war, many samurai found themselves destitute. To make matters worse, these samurai were forced to borrow money from merchants with ridiculous interest rates.
In 'An Offering of Cut Mochi', Koike uses Yamada's friendship with a group of low-level samurai to illuminate the beginning of the end for the samurai class. Yamada's friend Aoki is the leader and beneficiary of a group of destitute samurai. Aoki's group decides to make a statement to the government in the only way they know how. They murder the three leading rice merchants in the area and leave a note explaining how the merchants cheat samurai and the government turns a blind eye. Aoki and his group gladly accept their punishment as warriors and commit seppaku.