47 Ronin HC

by Sean Tonelli on March 12, 2014

47 Ronin HC
To know the tale of the 47 Ronin is to know Japan. Thanks to Mike Richardson and Stan Sakai’s beautiful adaptation readers stateside now have an opportunity to know and love a culture very different from their own. The 47 Ronin hardcover is a beautiful labour of love that is a must have in any household. A timeless tale, respectfully and masterfully adapted by Dark Horse founder Mike Richardson and brought gloriously to life by artist/legend Stan Sakai.

The tale for those of you who are unfamiliar, revolves around the death of Daimyo Asano Takumi-Naganori. After being summoned by the Shogun, the moral Asano takes his ill advised trip to the corrupt house of the shogunate. Much like poor old Ned Stark, Asano’s honour has no place in the city, and he quickly learns that the bushido code is not what it once was. After being forced into committing seppuku by the shogunate’s lackey Kira Yoshinaka Kozuke-No-Suke, the news of Asano’s dishonourable death travels the land. Thus starts the year long tale of revenge as Asano’s men look to restore honour to their master and his house.  

Writer Mike Richardson had been carrying the seeds of his adaptation for 15 years by the time the pieces fell into place and the wait was well worth it. Working within the confines of history can often drag a story down, with many writers struggling between the legend and the fact. 47 Ronin, while historically accurate is a timeless tale, so rooted in beauty and culture that any legend added to the story would greatly detract from its heart. Audiences were unfortunately subjected to one such adaptation, luckily Richardson is no amateur. 

What we are given is real and respectful toward the audience. Richardson trusts that we don’t need mystical dragons or 247 ronin to make this story interesting. This story has already stood the test of time, even if we are just hearing of it now.

There could be no other artist more suited to draw this tale than Stan Sakai. Sakai, who rarely breaks away from his own Usagi Yojimbo stories. Sakai is a legend whose body of work can speak for itself, but its hard to shower praise on this humble man. Heavily influenced by the art of Ogata Gekko, 47 Ronin has a unique style that is rarely seen on comic shelves. Paying a loving homage to Gekko’s woodblock prints of the early 1900’s, 47 Ronin’s visual style is simple, forward and gorgeous. Colourist Kindzierski works in perfect tandem with Sakai, driving home simple painting techniques and colours of a time long since passed. 

Outside of the story, the hardcover boasts a pretty impressive amount of extras. From a cover gallery, to the Mike Richardson's journey with writing, there’s plenty here for fans to come back to long after the read.

There’s nothing more that can be said about 47 Ronin. This is a treat for readers with a creative team that only comes around once a millennium. A perfect piece of art that should be on everyone's shelf.    

47 Ronin HC
Writer: Mike Richardson
Artist: Stan Sakai
Editorial Consultant: Kazuo Koike
Colours: Lovern Kindzierski
Lettering: Tom Orzechowki & Lois Buhalis 
Publisher: Mike Richardson
Purchase: http://www.darkhorse.com/Books/21-375/47-Ronin-HC

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