The Art Of Tatami-Crafting: ‘Usagi Yojimbo #8’ Reviewed

by Josh Davison

Mild Spoilers Ahead

We are shown how tatami mats are made and the time and care that go into the items. Lord Gifu has invited an envoy of the Shogun to his palace in the North Provence and he has ordered a great many tatami from a master craftsmen. Miyamoto Usagi witnesses the heavily-guarded shipment of tatami leave the craftsman’s workshop and a nearby guard explains the purpose of the mats. Usagi decides to follow the convoy and provide any needed additional aid. This proves to be a beneficial choice, as the Neku Ninja Clan attacks the convoy far from town.

Usagi Yojimbo #8 cover by Stan Sakai and Tom Luth
Usagi Yojimbo #8 cover by Stan Sakai and Tom Luth

Usagi Yojimbo #8 finds Usagi on his next self-determined quest: protecting Lord Gifu’s tatami mat shipment in the North Province. 

The episode finds the ronin Usagi wistful for the days of old. The North Province is his home and it is where his former master, Lord Mifune, once ruled before being killed and deposed by Lord Hijiki. This feeling is exacerbated when the town guard notes Usagi’s Mifune mon and reveals that he too once served Lord Mifune.

Usagi is also reunited with an old friend, an ally after he joins Lord Gifu’s convoy. Plenty of action also awaits Usagi on that adventure.

Also, the opening really does give us a lengthy explanation on how tatami mats were made and it is a shockingly grabbing lesson in history and craftsmanship. Stan Sakai is just that compelling a writer.

Usagi Yojimbo #8 art from Stan Sakai and Tom Luth with letters from Stan Sakai
Usagi Yojimbo #8 art from Stan Sakai and Tom Luth with letters from Stan Sakai

Sakai’s artwork once again brings this all to life in wonderful and energetic detail. The visuals in the book are as beautiful and full of personality as ever. Tom Luth supports it with a vibrant and gorgeous color palette.

Usagi Yojimbo #8 is another fantastic issue for the storied samurai hero. We watch as he struggles with his past losses while trying to find purpose without his master. It’s a highly-engaging read which easily earns a recommendation. Check it out.

Usagi Yojimbo #8 comes to us from writer, artist, and letterer Stan Sakai, color artist Tom Luth, cover artist Stan Sakai with Tom Luth, and variant cover artist Stan Sakai with Emi Fujii.

Final Score: 8/10

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