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CompleteMartialArts.com - Usagi Yojimbo, Book 6: Circles

Usagi Yojimbo, Book 6: Circles
List Price: $16.95
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Manufacturer: Fantagraphics Books
Average Customer Rating: Average rating of 5.0/5Average rating of 5.0/5Average rating of 5.0/5Average rating of 5.0/5Average rating of 5.0/5

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Binding: Paperback
EAN: 9781560971467
ISBN: 1560971460
Label: Fantagraphics Books
Manufacturer: Fantagraphics Books
Number Of Items: 1
Number Of Pages: 164
Publication Date: 1996-11-13
Publisher: Fantagraphics Books
Reading Level: Ages 9-12
Studio: Fantagraphics Books

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Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: Usagi's greatest turning point
Comment: Usagi Yojimbo is the kind of quality work that transcends time, genres, demographics, and even age groups. It crafts a delicate and beautiful balance between honor and savagery, cute innocence and dark brutality, simple heart-warming stories and multi-part epics that shape a dense continuity. Whether or not you've ever been a fan of feudal Japanese culture, furry anthro characters, or independent, non-superhero comics, Usagi Yojimbo is a comic that can't help but impress even the harshest critic.

Prior to this volume, Usagi was a fantastic character. Yet, as a seemingly flawless samurai both in spirit and in combat, I always found him a bit hard to relate to. Usagi always did what was right, and he always won. This is perhaps exhibited best in "The Bridge," the first story in this volume. It's my absolute favorite of the early Usagi stories in which he faces an impossible antagonist and not only wins, but wins with great dignity.

However, the four part "Circles" storyline, which begins part way into this volume, blows all of this out of the water. It begins with Usagi, whose premise has always been centered on his warrior's pilgrimage, deciding to finally go home. In attempting to do so, so much of what we've known of Usagi and his back story begins to shatter. From the return of his long lost sensei to a jaw dropping reunion with Mariko and, most importantly, a ground shaking revelation that has its roots in a mistake Usagi made years earlier, it becomes clear that Usagi will never be the same again. Once this volume concludes, he is a far different, more flawed, and far more human protagonist -- the kind of character you can root for while profoundly empathizing with him at the same time. In "Circles," the character of Miyamoto Usagi finally finds his soul.

Additionally, the introduction of Jotoro and the profoundly disturbing return of Jei add to an already thoroughly compelling story while building upon the Usagi Yojimbo universe at the same time. These are two of Sakai's greatest characters, and those qualities shine brightly even in this early adventure.

While Usagi Yojimbo is a title that continually gets stronger through the years, "Circles" is perhaps the earliest adventure that I return to on a regular basis, still absolutely holding its own in comparison to all the amazing stories and developments that came after.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: Stan Sakai is great
Comment: If you ask me, anything touched by Stan Sakai is good, Usagi Yojimbo is my favorite comic, because of the consistency and depth in Stan's story telling. Don't be scared off by the animorphic animals, it just sets the book apart. This is a genuinly good comic, just like every usagi Yojimbo book.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: Circles - one of the best
Comment: I think this volume is one of the most important turning points in Usagi's universe. You can miss some others but not this one as it says many important things about long-eared ronin. And much, much more..
Stories in this volume evolve about the symbol of homecoming when "heroes meet their past and see how far did they go". Each story is excellent. But the one that stands above others is "Duel" - maybe for the fact that it is absolutely believable story. "Duel" in some whiles overshadows even the ending of this volume where sadness of almost inevitable decision moves my heart every time I read it.
I highly recommend this volume. It is compact with atmosphere, it is foundation of later story arcs and it is truly masterpiece.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: My favourite in the series (so far).
Comment: To this point, (Shrouded Moon was just published) this is my favourite in the series. Not only are the stories strong, but the book provides a good look at where Usagi has come from and where he is going. Other than beginning the series at Book 1, this is the best introduction you could have to Usagi's world.

There are stories about characters that figure large in Usagi's life. His sensei Katsuichi, his love Mariko, his rival Kenichi, Kenichi's son Jotaro and Usagi's nemesis Jei (what is with Jei!?). There are also a couple nice stories that stand alone well, including "The Duel" which I think is one of the most poignant stories I've seen in comic format. It doesn't include anything about Gen, Usagi's friend and sometime companion, but to make up for that, the next book is called "Gen's Story" and deals almost entirely with him.

Sakai does a masterful job as usual and the stories will have you turning pages as fast as you can read until the end. I stumbled across this book at the library a while back and now I own a complete set. If you can't find Book 1 easily (no surprise, it's been out of print for quite a while), this may be the best way to check whether this series is for you before spending all that time looking for the out-of-print books.


Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: The Definitive Usagi Yojimbo Book
Comment: Of all the collections of "Usagi Yojimbo" I have, this one is my favorite, second to volume four (which includes the "Samurai!" storyline). Volume Six has everything that makes Usagi great: tales of derring-do and honor, stories about ghosts and demons, and the return of Mariko, Usagi's long lost love. Stan Sakai's art and scripting can't be any better as he spins an epic tale of a Japan that never was, but really should have been. Plus, it's got bunnies with swords. How can you go wrong?


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