03 July 2012

3 July 2012–Usagi Yojimbo: Bridge of Tears

Bridge of Tears

Image courtesy Dark Horse Comics

Written and Illustrated by Stan Sakai

Dark Horse Comics, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-59582-298-7 (TPB)

$17.95, Ages 10 +



The Rabbit Ronin, Miyamoto Usagi is back in another adventure (book 23). The life of a Ronin (lordless samurai) is often lonely, partially due to the rigors of the job, the need to stay mobile, and the fact that any distractions could lead to an untimely death. Usagi is no stranger to solitude, but after saving a young woman (who convinces him to take her along), is romance in Usagi’s future? How can he be sure to keep her safe and himself alive when the assassin’s guild is hot on his trail? This collection also showcases the 100th issue of Usagi Yojimbo with a comic roast of Sakai and his ronin rabbit, with special guest artists Frank Miller, Jeff Smith, and Sergio Aragonés, among others.


Usagi Yojimbo has been around since I was a kid (almost 30 years ago), and the entire time the series has been around, it has been haled by parental groups as a fantastic series. While the series concerns itself with an incredibly violent time period (medieval Japan), the violence is surprisingly tame. When a character is killed, there is never any blood spurting out or severed limbs flopping around. Instead, the deceased falls to the ground with a small skull and crossbones issuing forth (apparently signaling a death rattle). Moral ambiguity is rather rare in this series as well – Usagi is a straight arrow, while the villains are sleazy from the get-go. Occasionally, you’ll get a character that is much more devious than originally portrayed, but the surprise doesn’t feel forced. Usagi is a definite character of the “Do the right thing” school of thought, even if he gains no benefit from his actions, and he has stood (and continues to stand) as a very positive role-model for young audiences.

Final Thoughts

While Bridge of Tears was released over three years ago, I felt it was a title that needed to be examined again. Too often, Sakai’s work is overlooked because it’s published by Dark Horse. Now, Dark Horse is not a sketchy publishing company, but the majority of it’s titles are aimed at older audiences, and many teachers, parents and librarians tend to dismiss them out of hand when it comes to younger audiences. I have always enjoyed Usagi Yojimbo, and while it’s not a title I would have my 6 year old reading, I’ll be hanging on to them until he’s 9 or 10, and then introducing him to the amazing world of Stan Sakai. That being said, this series is great for Japanese studies, and would make a good parallel to the Naruto series. While the ending of the story arc is a little rough, I still recommend this to grades 5 and up.

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