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CompleteMartialArts.com - Samurai Executioner, Vol. 2: Two Bodies, Two Minds

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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: 741.5
EAN: 9781593072087
ISBN: 1593072082
Label: Dark Horse
Manufacturer: Dark Horse
Number Of Items: 1
Number Of Pages: 304
Publication Date: 2004-12-29
Publisher: Dark Horse
Studio: Dark Horse

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Editorial Reviews:

In a prison world, there are few good stories, and this is the world of Kubikiri Asa, the beheader and master samurai under the Shogun. It's a world full of vengeance, greed, and violence. A world of depravity and sin. One man can set things straight if he can keep his wits. This is a story of extreme proportions, of sword study thick in tradition and with grim purpose, of blood rivers, agonizing screams, bondage, torture, and the evil prevalent in human failure. Drafted by the confirmed masters of the international medium of manga, Samurai Executioner is a shocking combination of darkness and fire, fine lines and a fine man in the face of human decline.

Spotlight customer reviews:

Customer Rating: Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5
Summary: And So It Continues
Comment: The saga of Asa the Samurai Executioner continues with this volume. As usual, the short stories deal with morality, violence, philosophy and justice in such a way that they will possibly make you re-examine how you view certain issues. Are all criminals "bad"? Is "justice" always correct?

Those who only read American comics (and there's nothing wrong with them), may not appreciate or even realize the subtlities presented here. Their loss. These are spectacular tales from the people who brought us the epic "Lone Wolf and Cub" saga, a storyline that influnced everyone from Quentin Tarantino to Frank Miller.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: Decapitator Asaemon waxes philsophical in Volume 2
Comment: If I needed a reminder that "Samurai Executioner" is a manga intended for more mature readers than those who enjoyed Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima's "Lone Wolf & Cub" epic, then that was provided by the fact "Volume 2: Two Bodies, Two Minds" showed up, wrapped in plastic, and carrying a Parental Advisory label warning of the explicit content. But the world of Kubikiri Asa is one where people end up under the sword of the Shogun's executioner, so it is sordid and violent. This volume offers up three stories, each of which is a numbered "cut," in this developing narrative:

(6) "O-Tsuya's Broom" is one of the stories where Decapitator Asaemon character shows up at the end to resolve a unique situation that is brought to his attention. O-Tsuya is a prostitute who becomes mesmerized by the sight of fireworks, and who becomes totally aroused when there is a fire. So she sets one. The boss of the firefighters knows that she is the arsonist and can prove that she is the arsonist, but cannot get her to confess or to believe that she is guilty of her crime. So he goes to the executioner and tells his story in hopes that Asa will help justice to be served.

(7) "Two Bodies, Two Minds" begins with Asaemon setting forth on a journey to train for the Shogunate's O-tameshi. But his training is interrupted when he discovers the brutal rape of a nun at a Buddhist monastery. Two men are taken into custody, but the Executioner knows that they were in the employ of a third man. He is Hashiba Tatsunosuke, the son of Tokube, who brews the Shogun's sake. But this does not matter to Asaemon, who insists that the guilty man must be turned over to justice.

(8) "A Takadaimono for an Irezomotsu" is the best story of the three in this volume, but Dark Horse has a tendency to avoid Japanese names and words in the titles of its reprint collections of these tales. A prostitute shows up at the home of the Executioner hauling a cart filled with muck buckets, which she uses to befoul his house, adding a personal more personal touch to insult Asaemon's name. The locals watch in horror, sure that the Executioner is going to cut her head off. But instead he simply cleans up both the front of his house and the woman who befouled it. What makes this a standout story is that when Asaemon finds out why she has done this, it goes in a new and interesting direction where the Executioner proves that his mind is as sharp as his sword.

The stories of this second volume of "Samurai Executioner" show that Koike and Kojima are not interested in only doing stories when Decapitator Asaemon chops off some heads at the end of the story. Yes, there is a story that ends that way, and there is not decapitation that takes place in the middle of a story, and for that matter there is slicing and dicing that involves more than cutting off heads. But what stands out in most of these stories are the philosophical discussions (in the broadest meaning of "philosophial") that Asaemon has in a couple of these stories. There are larger issues in play here, which would also be a key part of why these cuts are best appreciated by mature readers.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5
Summary: getting better
Comment: This volume of Samurai Executioner is a alot better than the first volume. The stories in here are pretty good. There is one that was very cool about a low ranking samurai who challenges Asa to a duel for his position, of course it gets deeper that that in lw&c; fashion. The hellstick story is also real interesting. Maybe there is hope for Samurai Executioner yet.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5
Summary: You have been warned!
Comment: But, if you're like me, some of the negative customer reviews this series has drawn will serve only to pique your curiosity. And, yes, this is great stuff - every bit as worthwhile as 'LW&C;', but pulpier, leaner and meaner.

While some readers may find all of this a bit too shocking and cold-blooded, it must be said that these dark tales of crime and punishment are not related without compassion. The rape and murder of a child depicted in the first volume was presented in sad and ugly terms - without the kind of salacious detailing that can creep in in some manga. (A lot of cultures differ from our own in that nudity does not necessarily equate with sex, by the way. Smut is definitely in the eye of the beholder.) Likewise, the story of a pyromaniac prostitute is meant to be a tragedy - and it is an effective one, I believe. There is a good deal of probing into sick minds that will interest some and repel others. The torture on display is merely a reality of the approach to criminal justice in that time and place - a matter of historical fact - The horrific nature of which is clearly not lost on the authors, as it becomes the occasion for many an ironic juxtaposition. I'd be lying if I said that this didn't have it's gratuitous elements - but what of it? Are, for example, happy endings grafted onto stories purely for the gatification of the audience any better? No, but we're used to it. (That is just the current lowest common denominator - wish fulfillment instead of sex and violence, and I must say I prefer the bad old days when exploitable elements were actually exploitative. I don't think what we have now is morally or artistically superior.) These stories, like a lot of crime fiction, are meant to be dark and somewhat disturbing entertainment. If you don't think you can stomach this kind of thing, stay away.

And if you're just looking for something shocking, you can easily find a lot worse than this.

What Koike and Kojima provide here are solid storytelling and a great deal of artistry; a matter-of-fact approach to sex, violence, the criminal mind and the often cruel morality of the day; emotional sweep in the depiction of shattered lives; wonderful period detail and Koike's trademark bet'cha-didn't-know mini-lessons in this, that or whatever.

Solidly entertaining, but definitely not for children or wussies. Recommended!

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: Excellent work from the creators of Lone Wolf and Cub
Comment: Ok, sanitized Sailor Moon for the American market this is not.

This is a look into the world that existed over 300 years ago in feudal Japan. A world where one's rank in society determined the likelihood of summary execution right in the street for seeming minor offenses such as bumping into the wrong person. Applying our modern day sense of values to this world is senseless and one must appreciate this work for what it is. Whereas in Lone Wolf and Cub we viewed the travels of the Shogun's former executioner of samurai, now we view the life of the Shogun's sword tester; a man who's a ronin. Sword testing was performed on the bodies of the criminals and low-life scum condemned to death for their heinous crimes and this is why Samuai Executioner is more violent and may upset some people. The art, dynamic story telling and the world of 17th century Japan is the same but just viewed from a different perspective. If you enjoyed Lone Wolf and Cub you WON'T be dissapointed in Samurai Executioner - just be aware that you'll see the seedier side of 17th century Japan.

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