They are a wonderful blend and distillation of authentic Japanese culture and folklore, the values of bushido, personal courage, and sacrifice portrayed in themes we can all deeply identify with. The Introduction by actor George Takei pinpoints the spirit of Robin Hood, or the Lone Ranger as being instrumental in the appeal and success of Usagi Yojimbo.
These are standalone tales, although I suspect we may see the titular Red Scorpion in future. Having said that the Lord of Owls and Kitsune & Kiyoko appear giving us some great dialogue.
The background notes tell us all about Toad Oil, Owls and Seppuku, ensuring we are a little more enlightened after our enthralling read.
The art is superb. Despite being animals their faces are mesmerizingly expressive conveying sincere and dramatic emotions. The fight scenes so integral to samurai drama flow effortlessly just as a master swordsman. Sakai also knows when to focus on the little details. A sandal, a rock or a hand in close-up tells us more than a tiny frame should and there is a hysterical moment where Usagi is bouncing up and down in the frame and you have to work out why.
Double Thumbs Up!