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CompleteMartialArts.com - Samurai Executioner Volume 7 (Samurai Executioner)

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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
EAN: 9781593072766
ISBN: 1593072767
Label: Dark Horse
Manufacturer: Dark Horse
Number Of Items: 1
Number Of Pages: 304
Publication Date: 2005-12-28
Publisher: Dark Horse
Studio: Dark Horse

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Editorial Reviews:

As Samurai Executioner continues moving into its own world of crime and punishment, honor and bushido, we are beginning to learn more about the characters and situations involved in Edo-era justice. We're learning about Kubikiri Asa, the Shogun's decapitator, and his stoic life. This man's joyless existence is backed by stories of his past as a child, and how they reflect on his current day. But we also learn more about the peace officers of the era. In particular, there's the character "Catcher Kasajiro," the charming young man who uses a hooked rope and chained cudgel with such great skill. With these two characters, one with the guilt of many generations, and one bearing the naivete of a young buck, bring an odd sort of tenderness to a world of pain, death, and quirky kink.

Spotlight customer reviews:

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Summary: "Catcher" Kasajiro tries to solve the mystery of the Bamboo Splitter
Comment: "The Bamboo Splitter," Volume 7 in the collected "Samurai Executioner" tales of Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima, continues their look at crime and punishment in the Edo period of the history of the island kingdom of Japan. There are five stories collected in this volume, the first three of which are more examples of how Yamada Asaemon makes sure that his execution conform to both the law and his own personal standards. The last two stories make up a single tale in which Asaemon is more of a bystander as a pair of familiar supporting characters again play major roles in the tale being told.

(29) "Heading to a Festival" is an ironic title because the locals do not want Yamada Asaemon around for the coming Myojin festival, because they believe it will bring them back luck. After all, who wants the god of death looking down on them during a festival? So the executioner goes to the constables' office to stay for the three days of the festival. There he hears of Runaway Kichibee, who has been exiled to an island for twenty-four years and wants to see his hometown festival once more before he dies. Asaemon wonder if a festival is something so nostalgic that it would be worth dying for. That night he remembers when he was a small boy and found a mask worn by others attending the festival, and it turns out he still has the mask. You would think that he could use the mask to attend the festival in secret, but Asaemon did not do that as a boy and he has a different use for the mask as he performs his duties the next day.

(30) "The Last Performance" is the story of Sakurakawa Shuntei of the Dotegura stage, who was having an affair with Michi, the wife of Rokuemon of the Asuke-ya sock store. Caught in the act, Rokuemon kills his wife and then the actors kills the husband, for which he is sentenced to die. When Asaemon listens to his last words, the storyteller begs to give a final performance and submerge himself in his art so that he can die without dishonor. Asaemon agrees and we finally get to hear the executioner laugh.

(31) "Karmic Fire" is about an old crone who succeeds in fooling her prison guards and who insists "headchopper Asa" will not be able to cut off her head when he faces her magic. To the surprises of the guards, Asaemon asks to spend the night before the execution with the old woman, who is apparently insane. She tries to hypnotize Asaemon and he pretends that she has succeeded. You see, if you decapitate someone who does not understand that they have committed a crime, that is not true punishment. So Asaemon devises a test to see if the old woman is truly insane (possessed by a fox according to the legends) and should be spared, or merely playing a game.

(32) "The Bamboo Splitter" begins with the investigation of the latest of a series of murders. When more occur the next night "Catcher" Kasajiro consults Asaemon to see if he can solve the mystery. Asaemon has a few ideas, but then announces he would like to get some bamboo. Surprisingly, this all becomes a prelude to a pair of surprising confrontations. But then, surely you remember whom Kasajiro married, right? No wonder this becomes the title story in this collection, even though Asaemon is a minor player. However, once the bamboo splitter is caught, that is only the first part of the story as the interrogation turns into a torture session. To be continued in...

(33) "Toothless Yoshici" is the ruthless interrogator who has never failed to crack anyone and who is torturing the bamboo splitter. This two-part story is why the parental advisory for explicit content appears on the front cover of this paperback book publishes in the Japanese format. Yoshici may not be sadistic, but he is leaning in that direction and while what he does ends up being effective, it is not fun to watch, even in a manga. Then we get to the confession and another one of those horror stories that shows how wretched a life can become for some at that place and time. Taken together this two-part tale is one of the most memorable to date in the series.

Once again we see how Koike and Kojima can present fully developed characters in only a few pages. You also get a sense of the varied pacing they use in telling these stories, mixing a short story such as "The Last Performance" with a two-parter that takes up sixty percent of the volume. Time and time again we realize these stories about people and not executions. After all, we must always remember that, "Punished is not the man himself, but the evil that resides in him."

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