What is Usagi and Why should I read it?
Written by many time award winner Stan Sakai, for over 30 years, and published in over 14 countries (not including the bootleg in China), Usagi Yojimbo has to have something special to make it last so long!
Usagi Yojimbo is set in a unique world. Based in 17th century Japan, it features Miyamoto Usagi who is a skilled swordsrabbit, and follows his many exciting adventures traversing this unique world. Yojimbo is the Japanese word for "bodyguard" as Miyamoto Usagi was the personal bodyguard for a Japanese War Lord. Usagi is now a "Ronin" wandering swordsrabbit. Honing his skills, saving villages, and oftentimes stumbling into delicate affairs of national/political significance! It's quite clear that someone is writing his explosive life story.
It is loosely based on the legendary "Sword Saint" Miyamoto Musashi, who is famous for winning over 60 duels, the first of which was when he was only 13 years old.
What Makes Usagi Yojimbo So Special?
Usagi Yojimbo is versatile with a wide demographic of readership with an appropriate amount of awards. It has been utilized as college textbook material for its historical insight into Japanese history, as well as featured on TV and in Video Games. He's even had Comic Crossovers/TV episodes with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! Usagi Yojimbo also had its own exclusive exhibit at the Japanese National Museum in Los Angeles, California.
Like so many longstanding classics, Usagi Yojimbo is not simply a comic book series; it is an entire world. Adventure, Action, Comedy, Drama, Suspense, Romance, and Mystery are all commonly seen plots woven intricately into a seamless flow. Usagi Yojimbo has something for everyone!
What is Usagi Yojimbo's world?
Set in a truly unique anthropomorphic world including dinosaurs, Yokai (ghosts/monsters), cat, bat, and mole ninja's, samurai/ronin, bounty hunters, giant snakes, and even aliens! It's set in 17th century Japan so you also have immense castles, humble villages, exciting battles in the forest, sea, and land. Duels, murder mysteries, bounty hunting, and even helping haunting ghosts find peace...the list goes on. Sounds outlandish? When you read Usagi, it somehow all makes sense.
How do I start? It's a little intimidating with over 30 volumes.
First step would simply be to find a book and jump in. Thankfully, Usagi Yojimbo has many unique stories so it is easy to just delve into any of the books. Familiarizing yourself with the world is easy.
Personally, I'd suggest Usagi Saga Volume 1. It's priced inexpensively at $25 dollars for 600+ pages of comics! The first story is with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles so you know it's going to be quite action packed!
Who reads Usagi Yojimbo?
Usagi's readership includes a wide demographic of people. From six year old girls to teenage guys to seniors over 80! One loyal reader was an 82 year old woman living in Canada, who surprisingly ordered Usagi Yojimbo books not for her grandchild, but for herself!
17th century Japan was a violent time, is it okay for kids?
Usagi Yojimbo has won the prestigious Parents Choice Award, American Library Association Award, and the YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) award. Personally, I became hooked at six years old. However, the best thing to suggest is to read it yourself and see. Every child is different, so making a blanket statement wouldn't be accurate. Fair warning however: If you start reading it, you may get addicted!