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CompleteMartialArts.com - Samurai Executioner Vol. 1: When the Demon Knife Weeps (Samurai Executioner)

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Our Price: $9.95
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Manufacturer: Dark Horse
Average Customer Rating: Average rating of 4.5/5Average rating of 4.5/5Average rating of 4.5/5Average rating of 4.5/5Average rating of 4.5/5

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Binding: Paperback
Dewey Decimal Number: 741.5952
EAN: 9781593072070
ISBN: 1593072074
Label: Dark Horse
Manufacturer: Dark Horse
Number Of Items: 1
Number Of Pages: 328
Publication Date: 2004-08-11
Publisher: Dark Horse
Studio: Dark Horse

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Editorial Reviews:

From the creators of Lone Wolf and Cub comes Samurai Executioner. It's true! Few know of this precursor to the legendary ronin saga, but before Koike and Kojima created Itto Ogami, they created Kubikiri Asa, better known to Lone Wolf readers as Decapitator Asaemon. He was the equal to Itto, bearer of the sword Onibocho, the man charged with the duty of testing the swords for the shogun. Shogun Executioner is based on the decapitator himself, in life before his fatal duel with Lone Wolf. Expect the same legendary drama, frantic action, and stoic samurai stature, combined with the exemplary art and storytelling that made Lone Wolf and Cub one of the most popular and influential comic books in the world!

Spotlight customer reviews:

Customer Rating: Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5
Summary: anime
Comment: The content is kind of hard to understand. Reading this one would think that the Tokugawa period was filled with people that needed to be in institution. If you like wierd content this is the book for you.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: Another legendary book
Comment: Before these two creative powerhouses brought forth "Lone Wolf and Cub," there was this, a tale of a man who decapitated criminals and tested swords. ("Lone Wolf and Cub" readers will recognize him from that series, too.)

As to be expected, these does not read like the typical manga. It is cinematic in scope and more like literature with a bit of a pulp twist. The dark underbelly of Japanese society is explored, deplored and dissected, and at the heart of it all is the Samurai Executioner. This first volume sets things up exceedingly well as we meet a young man who grabs his destiny by committing one horrible act. This act comes to haunt him in later volumes, but here it is merely presented.

If your only exposure to comics is Superman, or if you think all manga is like "Fruits Basket," you need to check out this series. It will change the way you look not only at manga and comic books, but also life and its many different values. It sounds like hyperbole, but it's true. We live in a time where honor has no place and where greed justifies everything. Now you can read of a time where honor is king (but slowly losing ground), and greed is the vice of the weak man.


Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: Samurai Executioner
Comment: Dark Horse Manga, an imprint of Dark Horse Comics, has recently begun publishing English translations of Samurai Executioner, written by Kazuo Koike and illustrated by Goseki Kojima ($9.95 US, available in the UK). Koike and Kojima are best known as the creators of the critically acclaimed and wildly popular Lone Wolf and Cub series (also published by Dark Horse). Available for the first time in America in the Japanese format, these individual volumes look nothing like regular comics. The Samurai Executioner books are 4x6 inches, soft cover, and average around 300 pages with approximately 3 complete stories per book.

Fans of Lone Wolf and Cub and manga generally will want to pick up this book, slated to run for 10 issues, in order to see the formal origins of an extremely successful manga which spawned a veritable pop culture industry in Japan. Samurai Executioner, set in Edo Period (Feudal) Japan, was the precursor to the Lone Wolf and Cub characters and series. Because of its close connections to Lone Wolf and Cub, it's hard to judge Samurai Executioner based solely on its own merits. Every evaluations feels like an implicit comparison. If that is how it is being marketed, though, then perhaps comparisons are warranted.

Like Lone Wolf and Cub, Samurai Executioner presents its readers with meandering, but poetic, narratives punctuated by graphic, sometimes gratuitous, violence and sex (it is labeled "Mature Readers"), as well as samurai philosophy illustrated through a simple yet strong pen and ink style artwork. The titular character, Kubikiri Asa, is not so much an executioner as a "sword tester." It just so happens that he tests the swords on the bodies, sometimes living and sometimes dead, of criminals. Lone Wolf and Cub gave its readers a view into Samurai high culture as that period was drawing to an end. It is a world populated by nobles and ronin. Samurai Executioner's strength lies in its differences. Asa's role as sword tester is one of the few places where high and low, rich and poor, condemned criminal and judge all meet and interact. This is what makes the book so interesting- not the samurai, but the peasants, and the gangsters, and the prostitutes, and the police who try to keep Edo functioning as smoothly as possible and come in and out of Asa's world.

Itto Ogami, the main character of Lone Wolf and Cub, lived and breathed Bushido, the warrior code or philosophy of the samurai class, often imparting wisdom to those that he was about to cut to pieces. Asa, on the other hand, is trapped by his role in society. It is his awareness of his role that gives him a complexity that Ogami was lacking. Forced to kill his own father, having vowed never to have children, Asa is man who is waiting for the end. Itto Ogami attempted to rebuild his family clan, whereas Asa is counting the days until his can end. Bushido, family, responsibility: for Asa, these are a chore, not a joy or path to enlightenment. If there is any character development in the traditional sense, it is about how Asa feels about being inextricably stuck in this role as sword tester.

Samurai Executioner is being market on the strength of Koike and Kojima's previous work, but it can and does stand up on its own and serves as a good introduction to manga culture.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: Punished is not the man but the evil that resides in him
Comment: "Samurai Executioner" comes from Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima, the creators of "Lone Wolf and Cub." However, this precursor to the legendary manga saga is not as well known. The title character is Yoshitsugu, known to "Lone Wolf" readers as Decapitator Asaemon, bearer of the sword "Onibocho" and the man who was charged with the duty of testing the shogun's swords. Volume 1, "When the Demon Knife Weeps," begins with becoming the third Yamada Asaemon and represents the same carefully researched re-creation of Japan's Edo Period as "Lone Wolf and Cub." The biggest difference between the two works is that main character is not on a quest that provides a larger story arc in which each story fits. The stories are more about those that he has to executes, and are similar to those in which other characters have fatal meetings with Ogami Itto:

(1) "When the Demon Knife Weeps" begins with Yoshitsugu's father requesting that his son be made the third Yamada Asaemon. To do so, the son must pass one final test ordered by his father.

(2) "Yoshitsugu: Yamada Asaemon the Third" is given his chance to be O-Tameshiyaku and show the essence of Yamada-Ryu. This requires him to test a sword on the body and head of a commoner sentenced to death. But then a decapitation of a life subject is required and it turns out he knows the young woman who is brought forward quite intimately.

(3) "Monkey Fire Song" begins with Izuichi, blind masseur of Kanda Nishki-Cho, killing his divorced wife, Otatsu, and her lover, apothecary clerk Izoro. Before he can pay for his crime, Izuichi takes a woman hostage and is hold her in a storehouse. Decapitator Asaemon is called in by the authorities to help end the situation.

(4) "Toshu Daigongen" starts with the strange sight of Decapitator Asaemon walking through the streets of Edo holding an umbrella on a sunny day. Then Yoshichi, a plasterer, is discovered to be a child molester who has been murdering children for years. Such a monster must be executed, but Yoshichi just laughs because he thinks he has come up with a way to beat the system: he has tattooed "Toshu Daigongen," the holy name of the first shogun, on the back of his neck. To slice through the name is unthinkable.

(5) "Asaji" are the names for the lowly female servants in the prison. They are the ones for inspect the women prisoners and who have the responsibility for washing the heads of women who have been executed. When the ronin Saisho Shinkuro, the Terror of the Eight Provinces of Kanto, is captured and brought to Tenmacho to be executed, one of the Asaji requests to speak to Yamada-Sama. She wants to be allowed to wash the head of Shinkuro and tells her story to explain her request.

These are compelling stories, but this manga is intended for mature audiences, more so for the sexual violence towards women depicted in these stories than the bloodletting. Rape and abused are common elements in most of these stories, and I want to point out that Koike and Kojima present then as inhumane acts. The degradation of women is presented as a part of the culture and is certainly not being endorsed. These stories take place in violent times and ultimately it is not the violence but the ideals represented by Yoshitsugu and a few other characters that stand out.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5
Summary: Not Great but OK
Comment: I loved lone wolf and cub, as for samurai executioner it is not as good. I did enjoy the first story in the book where he becomes the executioner however. After I finished reading it there were still no real emotions that i had for Aseamon or in other words i don't care about the character like i cared for Ogami after reading LWandC 1. It seems that all Asaemon does is chop off heads..he doesn't go anywhere and doesn't seem to have any other life outside of his job as decapitator. There was a story in this book concerning a child rapist and there is a scene in which he is actually shown assualting a little girl. I thought that was a little much. Even after the resolution i was still a little disturbed that they drew that in there. This is darker than lone wolf and cub so far there are scenes of decapitaed bodies being carried arround and the whole rape and much more sex scenes that in Lone wolf.. It can kinda turn ya off. I hope the rest are better.

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