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CSBG Archive

365 Reasons to Love Comics #164

It’s still Anthropomorphism Whenever, and I present to you the star of a long-lived, somewhat beloved, independent series created by someone praised for their lettering skills. Yes. The time has come for…

(Oh, right, and– archive.)

6/13/07

164. Usagi Yojimbo

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What, you were expecting someone else? Bah! (Remember, Usagi creator Stan Sakai lettered Sergio Aragonés‘ Groo).

If Akira Kurosawa made a funny animal picture, it’d probably be a lot like Usagi Yojimbo, the fourth rabbit I promised you, oh those several days ago. The book owes its inspiration to real-life samurai Miyamoto Musashi and also such works as Lone Wolf and Cub and the films of Kurosawa himself. The titular rabbit, Miyamoto Usagi, is a ronin on a warrior’s journey, and that journey’s taken him from simple beginnings in a couple comics anthologies to ongoing series put out by multiple publishers. Usagi is still going strong. The current series just cracked the 100-issue mark. Rock on!

Right, so, “Usagi” means “rabbit,” and “Yojimbo,” which is totally not his last name, means “Bodyguard,” and so we have the story of a lone rabbit swordsman and his love affair with Whitney Houston. Or not. He does take bodyguard jobs, though, as the series shifts from epic storyarcs to short adventures and everything in-between. His journey has also taken him into team-ups with a certain group of shelled ninjas (I proudly own the Usagi action figure from that line), but we’ll talk about them some other time.

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I’m not much of an expert on Usagi Yojimbo, but it’s an exciting series by a cartoonist at the top of his game, and while it’s not lighting the internet on fire or anything, it maintains a sense of high quality and is acclaimed by all the critics. Sorry if this column isn’t long or too in-depth– I might update it at a later date– but I urge you to try the series out and give Usagi some love. It’s a brilliantly unique series.

Don’t forget, Stan Sakai is also the creator of Space Usagi. As we all know, everything is better when it’s in space. Bucky O’Hare proved the viability of rabbits in space– and Usagi kicked it in the face. That doesn’t even make sense, but by God, it sounds cool.

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Apparently, a Usagi RPG even came out, which sounds quite interesting. What can my smart readers tell me about it?

The official Usagi Yojimbo website is here, and it is chock full of Usagi Yojinfo. (Urgh. That one was bad.)

There are currently 20 or so trade paperbacks collecting the main Usagi series, with another one on the way soon. And the Wiki is a huge, huge source of information on the series and its characters. Enjoy!

9 Comments

Space Usagi was an actual comic? Wow, I thought that was just a bizarre choice by the toy company. Unless the toy came first.

Thanks for continually linking to the archives, reminded me I meant to check out Tales from the Bully Pulpit, and managed to find a copy to borrow. That thing needs a reprinting, and bad.

Gotta love Usagi too.

Pretty amazing how consistently good Usagi still is after all those issues. Though I surely haven’t read all of them I’ve known them for years and I honestly can’t remember ever reading one bad issue. It’s a sure bet and it’s great, definitely a reason to love comics.

Now if only Dark Horse would put the early UY volumes back into print so I can find the farggin’ things at a reasonable price, all would be well with the world.

one of the best. Stan Sakai is awesome.

Lowell Francis

June 14, 2007 at 5:51 am

I think there’s actually been two rpgs for this– one from Gold Rush written by Greg Stolze and then a newer one from something called Sanguine Productions. Unusual for a smaller licensed property.

Usagi is one of those books I never read but I’m about 90% sure I’d love. It just seems like it would be too expensive to ever catch up.

Usagi is still hanging out with the Ninja Turtles. He has had a couple of appearances in the current cartoon that are more true to his character. All of which I think were good episodes.
Oh, and I had the figure too, but the ears fell off of mine.

I think Usagi is a reason to love comics all by himself, however I think the fact that a property like this can survive to 100 issues over 2 decades is more of a reason to love comics.

Usagi is currently my #1 reason to love comics. I can’t recommend it highly enough!

Usagi was the star of a computer game in the 80′s (Sinclair ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64). That game put me in contact with him but i only find out is comics in 1998. I have all the fantagraphics trades, DH trades until the first Grasscuter Arch and all the DH comics since n.º 20. The TBP are the best way to red Usagi but over the years i´ve never been able to stop buying the comic.

Cheers

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