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CompleteMartialArts.com - Path Of the Assassin Volume 1: Serving In The Dark (Path of the Assassin)

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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: 741.5952
EAN: 9781593075026
ISBN: 1593075022
Label: Dark Horse
Manufacturer: Dark Horse
Number Of Items: 1
Number Of Pages: 320
Publication Date: 2006-07-19
Publisher: Dark Horse
Studio: Dark Horse

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Editorial Reviews:

Path of the Assassin, called Hanzo no Mon in Japan, is the story of Hattori Hanzo, the fabled master ninja whose duty was to protect Tokugawa Ieyasu. Ieyasu was the shogun who would unite Japan into one great nation. But before he could do that, he had to grow up and learn how to love the ladies! As the secret caretaker of such an influential future leader, not only does Hanzo use vast and varied ninja talents, but in living closely with Ieyasu, he forms a close friendship with the young shogun.

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: Tri-focal Alert
Comment: This story is a four stars - but if you are over fifty, then the type is so small you may find it an uncomfortable read. A bit more real estate on the page would be a big help.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: An New Original of an Old Story
Comment: I'm a big fan of the Lone Wolf and Cub series. It tells a story with multiple, multiple layers on morality and honor. Path of the Assassin tells a great story, the relationship of a ninja and his master, whom he must protect "in the shadow" without others knowing his existence. The two are 16, players navigating the traps of the adult political world. While this first book lacks the many layered complexity of Lone Wolf and Cub the stories are high energy and deals with morality issues between the bonds of master and servant. Look for other books in this series to enjoy after this 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: Well done
Comment: Right in line with Samurai Executioner and Lone Wolf and Cub.

Engrossing story, as well as a good view into how Japan was back in the Samurai era.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: "Lifelong friends, with the Same Dreams, Striving to Grow into a Rising River"
Comment: "Hanzo no Mon" ("Path of the Assassin") is a manga by writer Kazuo Koike and artist Goseki Kojima that was originally published in Japan in 1972. Because it is a relatively short series, compared to Kokie and Kojima's "Lone Wolf & Cub" and "Samurai Executioner," Dark Horse is only now getting around to publishing these books now that those other series have both been concluded. We are still talking a Parental Advisory for explicit content, but unlike the previous series it has been oriented in the right-to-left reading format of the original (at at the creator's request apparently). This is the story of Jattori Hanzo, the fabled master ninja whose duty was to protect his master Tokugawa Ieyasu, who was destined to be shogun who would unify Japan and great a modern nation. As told by Koike and Kojima, not only doez Hanzo use his ninja talents to serve the future leader "in the dark," but also forms a close friendship with the young shogun.

"Path of the Assassin, Volume 1: Serving in the Dark," is set in the Sengoku period, when ambitious samurai warriors were releasing ninja, called "suppa," to be part of various plots and intrigues. The "suppa" who works for the Matsudaira clan is Hattori Hanzo Yasunaga of Iga, who orders his son Mattori Hanzo Masanari, to serve Matsduaira Jiro Saburo Monotnobu, later known as Ieyasu. When these stories begin, Motonobu, the master is only sixteen, while his servant Masanari is fifteen. This first volume has seven "chapters on relinquishing pain":

No. 1: "Suppa Unsheathed" beings with Hattori Hanzo Yasunaga ordering his eldest son to steal a giant vase with a flower and a bird on it, and to do so without being noticed. If the eldest son, Yasutoshi fails, the task will fall to the next brother, Yasumasha. When neither brother can accomplish the task, the youngest son requests the opportunity to succeed. He does with "the skill of an unsheathed suppa," and the brother who was last becomes first and is ordered to "serve our master in the dark."

No. 2: "Serving in the Dark" tells of how Masanari introduced himself to his new lord, only to have to do it a second time. The future shogun does not look that impressive, but there is some reason to believe that he is truly samurai. This is really the second part of the first episode in bringing the two characters together.

No. 3: "Mizuki" is Japanese for "water princess." Facing his wedding, Motonubu orders his servant to show him what to do with a woman who has a will of her own (a round about way of saying Motonubu is a virgin). Masanari creates a diversion in a fishing village, captures one of the half naked diving girls, and sexually assaults her while his master watches. Fortunately this one takes a couple of major twists and the character does know that he has raped a young woman, but despite the Luke & Laura ending this one is a bit unsettlng, although certainly consistent with the world Koike and Kojima present in their manga.

No. 4: "Oppressive Night of Ass" shifts the attention to Motonubu and his wedding night. Despite the illustration provided by his servant in the previous story, Motonubu and his bride take a slightly different approach to their love making, which leads the future Shogun to become rather philosophical.

No. 5: "Technique of Jisatsu" is a key story because it clearly signals that Motonubu is not on the traditional path of a tyrant. After being humiliated in a test of his swordsmanship by Asahina Yasuyoshi, the strongest samurai in the clan, Motonubu cannot get over the insult. When Motonubu asks his hidden "suppa" if he can take down Yasuyoshi, Masanari says it should not be difficult. But Motonubu insists he is only asking if it is possible and not ordering it to be done. Instead he asks for proof that hsi "suppa" can do it, which results in Motonubu learning a lesson of a different sort. Here is where we get the sense for the first time that these two might both be on the road to greatness, because prior to this point Masanari is clearly the more important and more laudable figure.

No. 6: "Kite Kato" is about Kato Danzo, who has the nickname "kite" (which means raptor) and who boldly asks permission from the viceroy of Shuruga to complete a mission of revenge. Seventeen years earlier a Harunobi exiled his own father, who became a monk (and therefore as good as dead as far as Kato is concerned), and now the time has come to claim vengeance. As Kato explains his complicated plan, Motonubu admires the "suppa," and wonders how good Masanari is at the skill of hiding his thoughts and emotions. The thoughts make him nervous.

No. 7: "Who is He in the Rain?" continues the story of Kite Kato, who has backed the viceroy into a corner. But when the viceroy orders his retainers to kill Kato, the one who does not move is Motonubu. The first part of this episode is the conclusion of Kato asking the viceroy for permission to kill two men, but the second half hinges on a brief story told by Kato that sets up a "suppa" battle between Kato and Masanari. If there is a common theme in these early stories, it is that Masanari's mind is faster than his sword, and once again it serves him in good stead and these seven stories are good enough to justify rounding up, even without taking into account the stellar reputation of their creators.

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