Fear The Bunraku – Usagi Yojimbo #2 Reviewed

by Josh Davison

[*Mild Spoilers Ahead!]

An older samurai goes home after an evening at the bar to find himself being stalked. He challenges whoever or whatever is following him, and it turns out to be a swarm of puppets. The next morning, the town finds the samurai dead. Usagi and Sasuke find the dead samurai as well, and Sasuke knows this must be connected to why he was led to this town. Afterwards, Usagi and Sasuke reconnoiter at Takagi’s puppet show, and Usagi quickly notices that Takagi looks younger than before. Usagi and Sasuke fear that Takagi and his puppets may be behind the attacks. 

Usagi Yojimbo #2 cover by Stan Sakai
Usagi Yojimbo #2 cover by Stan Sakai

Usagi Yojimbo #2 continues the tale of Takagi and his Bunraku puppets as Usagi and Sasuke hope to stop the attacks taking place in the town.

As usual, Stan Sakai manages an interesting balancing act. There is often a fair amount of humor in Usagi Yojimbo, and the titular hero has an aloofness, awkwardness, and near-innocence that make him compelling and endearing. Despite that, the threat of the Bunraku puppets is unnerving and often even quite creepy. Sakai can make these coexist without seeming incongruous in one story, and that’s impressive.

Usagi is a great lead, and Sasuke is a decent foil for him. Usagi just wants to live a peaceful life while making sure the town isn’t under some threat. He doesn’t want to meddle in the supernatural affairs Sasuke often finds, yet Sasuke can convince him to come along and help nonetheless.

Takagi has the potential to make for a good villain too.

Usagi Yojimbo #2 art by Stan Sakai and Tom Luth
Usagi Yojimbo #2 art by Stan Sakai and Tom Luth

Sakai’s artwork is, as always, fantastic. His world is always distinctly cartoonish, but he has a specific flare and grit that he adds to every scene so that you know it is his. Tom Luth’s color art adds a lot of additional life and personality to the book as well, and I remain quite glad that Usagi Yojimbo is in color now.

Usagi Yojimbo #2 continues off of the strong start brought during this switch to IDW. The “Bunraku” story is interesting and compelling so far, ad Sakai and Luth remain a powerful artistic team. This one earns another recommendation. Feel free to give it a read.

Usagi Yojimbo #2 comes to us from writer, artist, letterer and cover artist Stan Sakai and color artist Tom Luth.

Final Score: 8/10

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