To put it lightly, Samurai Executioner is a spin-off of the famous manga, Lone Wolf and Cub. The same art style and storytelling in the latter is used in the former. However, the plot of the two are very different. As its name suggests, Samurai Executioner is about a Samurai who’s profession is that of an executioner. Yamada Asaemon, is an honorable man who is greatly respected, and feared, for both his position and demeanor.
Not only is the manga written with historical accuracy, but the original terms are transliterated in the translation.
Rather than following Yamada, the plot follows the stories of the characters around Yamada, more than it does his stories. The pasts of those executed are often explored but the stories of those who come seeking guidance from Yamada are also followed. Instead of being lead by a plot, Samurai Executioner, is lead by characters instead. The writer of the manga, Kazuo Koike-sensei, was quoted saying, “Comics are carried by characters. If a character is well-created, the comic becomes a hit.” Having a story following characters rather than a plot is unorthodox, but as Koike-sensei said, if the characters are well made than the story will be successful. This manga is proof.
I mentioned that the original terms in the original manga were kept in the translations. This, as someone who doesn’t speak Japanese, confused me. The meanings of these words were unknown to me, and sure, there was a glossary at the end of each chapter but I did not want to constantly reference the page while reading. As you can imagine, this subtracted from my enjoyment of the manga. That was, however, only during my first reading of the work. During the second reading, I surprised myself by recognizing most of the words used. I assume this is because, although it feels like you are barraged by a wall of foreign words at first, as the manga progresses you are introduced to the meaning of each word one step at a time.
The depth conveyed through the eloquently phrased dialogue is something that I can’t put into words. I have gained much from reading this work. I have learned about life in the feudal era of Japan, about the judicial system, and gained something intangible, and spiritual, from the wisdom I absorbed.
Instead of attempting to relay the magnitude of the writing, I will try something new. The following is an excerpt from Samurai Executioner, chapter 35:
Disclaimer: Samurai Executioner contains a large amount of nudity.
GO Rating: 5/5