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CompleteMartialArts.com - Samurai Executioner Volume 3 The Hell Stick

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Manufacturer: Dark Horse
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
Dewey Decimal Number: 741.5
EAN: 9781593072094
ISBN: 1593072090
Label: Dark Horse
Manufacturer: Dark Horse
Number Of Items: 1
Number Of Pages: 316
Publication Date: 2005-02-09
Publisher: Dark Horse
Studio: Dark Horse

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Editorial Reviews:

Readers of Lone Wolf & Cub came to know a samurai of such high honor that he was not only able to perform but enjoyed and, in fact, learned from basic daily tasks. Cutting wood, cooking food. That wasn't something a samurai did back in feudal Japan. These same human elements are apparent in Kubikiri Asa, the main character in Samurai Executioner. He's a man of the people, though his job is to separate many of those same people from their heads. In this volume, however, we're treated to three fantastic stories of amazing weapons skill, both on the part of Asa and those around him.

Spotlight customer reviews:

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 helps with three different problems
Comment: In "The Hell Stick," the third volume of the "Samurai Executioner" manga of writer Kazuo Koike and artist Goseki Kojima, the title character only has to perform one actual execution. In the pervious collection there was more of an emphasis on philosophical matters and to a large extent that continues in these three stories originally published in Japan in 1995:

(9) "The Hell Stick" is brought to Yamada Asaemon by Aya, daughter of Onagi Shirobee, Katana-ban of the Nagaoka-Han daimyo's house in Edo to be tested. But it is a Sengo Muramasa blade, which have a long history for which they are considered cursed by the Tokugawa family. Asaemon agrees to test the sword anyway, and Aya requests to stay until the day of the test. This has the neighbors thinking the Executioner has taken a wife to live in his creepy house. However, our interest is drawn to the long scar on Aya's back, for there is a story behind that scar and a very strange but important request that she has to make of the Executioner. One of the interesting things in these stories is how women, who are relatively worthless in the social system of feudal Japan, often show the strongest senses of honor and acceptance of the samurai code. As always, the political nuances of the period can be both complicated and yet subtle.

(10) "The Mad Sword of Tsukuba Bakushu" is about a postless gokenin who wants Decaptitator Asaemon's post. Bakushu has trained in a most unique and intense style of swordsmanship, and is supported in his challenge to Asaemon's position. After all, Asaemon is still only a ronin. But there is another factor in this challenge because the mad sword in question is a Muramasa, and there is a final encounter between the two as well that suggests Tsukuba Bakushu is not as crazy as he acts. For those of you who were thinking that you had seen just about everything somebody could do with a samurai sword in the manga of Koike and Kojima, this one has a few surprises.

(11) "Catcher Kasajiro" is another example of Yamada-Sama as a teacher. Sakane Kasajiro is a jomawari, a regular patrol man with the local police, who is already a okakaeseki (the lowest grade retainer of the shogun). He uses the kusari-jitte (a truncheon with a retractable chain) and the kaginawa (hook rope), but during this first assignment things go wrong and Kasajiro has been ordered to take a leave of absence. He constantly practices, but curses himself for being "one breath too slow," and his boss asks Aesemon to talk to the young man. The Executioner is unfamiliar with Kasajiro's weapons of choice, but knows that the young man must learn a different sort of lesson.

Having worked my way through the "Lone Wolf & Cub" saga, while the "Samurai Executioner" stories are decided more mature in orientation and execution, I am at the point where I take the sex and violence at the value of the Japanese culture being depicted. The key thing is that they are never the point of the stories being told, just part of the context in which the particular lesson is being set. The "Samurai Executioner" stories are obviously more episodic than "Lone Wolf & Cub," but because there is not a story arc that defines the entire series they strike me as being more moralistic (almost like parables, albeit with lots of blood and nudity). These are essentially prequels to "Lone Wolf & Cub," but narratively they are extensions of the legendary manga saga.

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