Customary Tragedy: Usagi Yojimbo #5 Reviewed

by Josh Davison

[*Mild Spoilers Ahead!]

Usagi finishes reading Mura’s story and is surprised by the dark ending. Afterwards, Usagi hears moving outside the abandoned temple, and he readies himself for an ambush. The bandits try to smoke out Usagi and Mura, and Usagi manages to scare them away. Finally, Mura and Usagi arrive at the homestead of Mura’s father. To Usagi’s surprise, Mura’s father chastises her for leaving her husband, Seizo. Her disobedience towards Seizo violates the Bushido code. Soon, Seizo himself arrives to take Mura home, but Usagi isn’t sure he can allow this to happen.

Usagi Yojimbo #5 cover by Stan Sakai
Usagi Yojimbo #5 cover by Stan Sakai

Usagi Yojimbo #5 concludes the “Hero” storyline. Though it doesn’t in a manner that will satisfy everyone, it is nonetheless a compelling and emotional end.

Mura’s tale is a tragic one, as she is constrained by the customs of her time. However, she cannot bear to live by those customs. Usagi wants to help her, but those same customs restrain him.

There isn’t as much action in this issue as a result; the conflict is interpersonal and primarily deals in customary power.

It’s quite a dark comic as well. I won’t spoil the ending of course, but I can say that its turns genuinely surprised me. It also managed to touch my emotions.

Usagi Yojimbo #5 art by Stan Sakai and Tom Luth with letters from Stan Sakai
Usagi Yojimbo #5 art by Stan Sakai and Tom Luth with letters from Stan Sakai

Stan Sakai continues to beautifully render the world of Usagi Yojimbo as he has for so long now. The action scenes, though brief, spring to life from the page. The body language and expression of the characters help convey the emotions of the book. Tom Luth’s colors support all of this with a vibrancy which injects vitality into every page.

Usagi Yojimbo #5 is a genuinely touching and tragic comic that shows the true destructive power of strict adherence to custom. It is an invisible power that entraps every character in the comic, and, as a result, the heroes are just as culpable as the villains. In any case, this one definitely receives a recommendation. Give it a read.

Usagi Yojimbo #5 comes to us from writer, artist, letterer, and cover artist Stan Sakai and color artist Tom Luth.

Final Score: 9.5/10

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