Thursday, May 29, 2008

Satsuma Gishiden

Hiroshi Hirata's Satsuma Gishiden is set in the feudal period after Tokugawa Ieyasu unified most of Japan bringing about an uneasy era of peace. Most samurai are poor, restless and quickly becoming outclassed by merchants and peasants. Starving, they are left with little but the memories of the glory and power they and their families once had.

The story focuses around a lowly samurai felon fighting for his life after refusing to compromise his code of honor to the moral degradation that permeates the village bureaucracy. The story shifts between history lesson, wartable politik, and bloody swift violence.

Hirata's artwork beautifully captures this turbulent period of Japanese history. With a style reminiscent of the well renowned Goseki Kojima's Lone Wolf & Cub combined with that of Blade of the Immortal, Hirata inks out a number of beautiful full page spreads. Giving focus to the human form, Hirata uses one page to illustrate a gory ninja decapitation and the next to depict the various handicrafts undertaken by samurai laborers giving stunning detail to a variety of action and setting.

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