The Elusive Samurai, vol. 1 | Review
The Elusive Samurai, vol. 1 by Yatsui Matsui
Viz Media, $9.99
To be published 7/5/22
Age rating: Teen
When his family is betrayed and slaughtered by a traitorous retainer (a vassal who provided services, especially military, to a lord who in return offered protection and land), eight-year-old Toriyuki flees with the help of the loyal retainers that have survived the purge. Guided by an inept ally named Yorishige, who claims to be a clairvoyant, Toriyuki must learn to grow up fast and hone his skills as a swordsman to take back his stolen kingdom.
Oh, did I forget to mention that Toriyuki is EIGHT-YEARS-OLD?!
That’s a lot for a little kid to handle.
While this story, which is the latest from Yatsui Matsui of the widely popular Assassination Classroom, had a slow build-up, it started to become more interesting as we learn that Toriyuki can be a great swordsman, with skills that he and his fellow survivors can use to take back the home that was stolen from them. It also doesn’t help that he’s pretty lazy, and his best plan of attack is running away.
I mean, he’s only eight. In actuality, his fellow survivors are also around his age, but they have already begun training in order to serve Toriyuki when he’s of age.
However, when attacked by assassins sent by the traitor Ashikaga Takauji, Toriyuki does his best to fight back without killing his opponents. He effortlessly evades their strikes until they tire. The illustrations that depict his movements are beautifully well done.
I should mention that there are a couple scenes that might be a bit much for the reader. After surviving the massacre with his friends, Yoriyuki is shocked to discover that his betrothed (who is also a child) was “violated” before being killed, and the reader gets a scene of the girl’s body after the act. It’s not graphic, but it is still disturbing. Another scene that will definitely raise eyebrows is where shrine maidens offer our EIGHT-YEAR-OLD protagonist “comfort,” which causes him to run away in fear.
I think any sane kid would, to be honest.
With all that being said, I would recommend giving The Elusive Samurai a chance. The violence is really not that graphic, but it’s a tale of revenge and survival that will keep readers enthralled.
Filed under: Manga, Reviews, Young Adult
About Renee Scott
Renee Scott is a young adult librarian based in NYC, as well as a dedicated otaku and gamer. She is a lifelong fan of comics, anime, and manga. She can be found on Twitter at @libraryladynyc, and on her review blog, The Library Lady of NYC Reviews.
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