An elderly samurai hangs up his sword, trading in the violence of his past to spend time with his family in the present. Tragedy strikes as he returns home to find his son murdered and his granddaughter kidnapped. Now, Ojichan must head out for one last mission to bring his little Kimiko home. Throughout this journey, he’s confronted by new and old adversaries, each presenting a unique obstacle, both physically and mentally.
What you will first notice with Samurai Grandpa is Shawn Daley’s artwork. It is absolutely gorgeous and sets a pitch-perfect tone for the comic. His beautiful water colors create an almost otherworldly environment where anything can happen. This story sits on the line between the natural and the supernatural, dealing with good-old fashioned samurai, as well as mythical creatures out of folklore. There are also monkey ninjas.
As Ojichan continues down this road, replacing his sword with a special walking cane, we receive brief glimpses of his past. Some are regrets of his brash actions as a youth. Others are longing for a lost love. In his heart, he’s a good man, but he’s done some bad things in his life. This journey is like his penance for all of the questionable decisions he’s made. Does he deserve to have his family torn apart for these actions?
These flashbacks are shown in a different light, giving them the look and feel of a faded photograph, or to be more in line with Samurai Grandpa’s aesthetic, an old parchment. These are fleeting memories. They contrast nicely with the vibrant colors of the present. Each new land that Ojichan reaches has its own unique qualities, primarily when it comes to the colors.
Although he’s long in the tooth, Ojichan can still handle himself in combat. Even armed only with a cane, he can still dispatch monsters and ninja alike. Daley creates some impressive fight choreography. You will believe an old man can fight a dragon after reading this graphic novel.
Samurai Grandpa is a comic that can be read and enjoyed by anyone in any stage of their life. By showing us different aspects of Ojichan’s long time on this planet, we see how he’s grown and we can relate to various stages, whether that’s an upstart young man or an aging patriarch who just wants to bring his family home. Writer Eastin DeVerna expertly guides us on this emotional journey that’s packed with action and reflection. This is a beautiful book and it’s really something special.