Tag Archives: Hiroaki Samura


Blade of the Immortal volume 2 boicover2
“Cry of the Worm”
by Hiroaki Samura
Dark Horse Comics / Studio Proteus
Translated by Dana Lewis and Toren Smith
BW, 192 pgs
$14.95 US / Higher in Canada

“Cry of the Worm”, the second collected volume in Hiroaki Samura’s punk samurai epic, contains two stories for the price of one. For my money, the first tale is the best. It’s the shorter of the two; a sword fight nestled between two very telling moments of character development.

Rin has come face to face with an artifact from her past. A Chinese sword that used to belong to her grandfather is now in the hands of one of Anotsu’s kenshi. (For those of you who are new to Blade of the Immortal, Anotsu and his Itto-ryo sword fighting school have been destroying other sword fighting schools, including the one run by Rin’s father.) When Rin tells Manji about the sword, he offers to return it to her. She tells him not to do so because she wants to start putting the past behind her. She feels it is time for her to start growing up and move on with her life. Her thirst for revenge will only die with Anotsu, so going after his minions is pointless. Continue reading BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL volume 2


by Hiroaki Samura
Dark Horse Comics

BW, 248 pgs w/ ads
$12.95 US / More in Canada

Blade of the Immortal was the first manga I read. It was my introduction to manga, showing me Japanese comics weren’t all big hair, big eyes, and big robots. It took me three volumes before I really got into the samurai / punk storytelling, but Hiroaki Samura’s artwork had me hooked from the very beginning. I knew going into Ohikkoshi that the stories within were going to be very different from Blade of the Immortal. This is a collection of early Samura creations, each told in “modern” Japan.

ohikkoshi_panelThe first is the longest of the bunch and it gives this collection its name. It’s the story of several twenty-something university students as they fall in love, in lust, play in rock bands, get drunk and basically try to avoid entering adulthood while they still have the energy to do so. The core of the story– the lust affair the main character, Sachi, has with the sexy Akagi – didn’t do it for me. I found Sachi annoyingly hopeless and loud, and while Akagi had her charms, she is too mature and worldly for Sachi. I didn’t stop reading, however. What kept me going was waifish Kobarukawa. This young woman is the quietest of the group, and yet she’s a star performer on the local rock and roll scene. She’s a real cutie, and she harbors strong, unspoken feelings for Sachi. They’ve been friends forever, but he’s too wrapped up in his own personal lust for Akagi to notice little Kobarukawa, although I feel Kobarukawa has dodged a bullet there. Sachi is no catch. Another strength of note is Samura’s art. Even though the subject matter differes greatly from Blade of the Immortal, Samura employs some of the same art techniques, but they don’t have the same dramatic effect because Ohikkoshi is a romantic comedy. Continue reading Ohikkoshi

Blade of the Immortal volume 1: Blood of a Thousand

Blade of the Immortal volume 1
“Blood of a Thousand”
by Hiroaki Samura
Dark Horse Comics
Translated by Dana Lewis and Toren Smith
BW, 136 pgs
$14.95 US / Higher in Canada

Blade of the Immortal is the story of Manji, a samurai who killed without question on behalf of his master. Realizing his master wasn’t the good guy he thought, Manji assassinates him, a most heinous crime in ancient Japan. Hunted as a criminal, Manji is tired of living and wants to die, but can’t. An old woman has stuffed him full of Kessen-Chu, bloodworms that repair even his most grievous wounds. Manji is immortal and if he is to die, he must slay one thousand evil men.

Blood of a Thousand is the English translation of the first six issues of the manga, Blade of the Immortal. The manga itself first appeared and continues to be published in the Japanese magazine Afternoon. Dark Horse Comics also publishes English versions of the individual issues before collecting them into trade paperbacks.

In this collection, we are introduced to Manji and to the personal demons that compel him in the present. He also meet Rin, an orphan who seeks to revenge the death of her parents at the hands of the Itto-ryu. Together, Manji and Rin begin a journey to hunt down this merciless band of men.

Blood of a Thousand would be little more than a gory action story if not for Hiroaki Samura’s delicate handling of the relationship between Manji and Rin. As a ronin, Manji is a swordsman of high caliber and a man of questionable morals. At times he seems like nothing more than a cynical street punk possessing a gallows humour. And yet, he also shows moments of great philosophical insight and tenderness. Rin is an aspiring swordswoman. She portrays herself as a strong woman ready to take her revenge, but beneath her tough exterior she is still hurting over the loss of her parents. These two damaged souls meet and together they begin a journey of unending violence in an attempt to find peace.

The story unfolds in the second year of Tenmai, which is approximately 1782 – 1783 by Gregorian calendars. Manji may be a masterless samurai, but Hirokai Samura has decided not to steep his tale in historical accuracy and the way of Bushido. Instead, he has created his own arsenal of fantastic weaponry and fighting techniques in order to escape the scrutiny of samurai fanatics. Samura has also used a variety of linguistic styles, alternating between the mannered style of old Japan and street slang more likely to be found in a city of our own time. The result is a tale edged with science fiction and punk sensibilities, a blood-soaked tale of stunning brutality, beauty and passion.

Samura’s elegant artwork alternates between ink and pencil lines. When he is working with the fine point of a pencil, his illustrations are filled with enough detail and atmosphere to transport the reader to ancient Japan. He captures both the frantic energy and brutality of battle with his climatic full-page illustrations, but it is in the quieter moments when Samura really shines. His fine hand invokes, in the reader, a wide range of emotions toward his protagonists, the foremost of which is empathy. (Chad Boudreau)