Book Review – The 47 Ronin

The 47 Ronin adapts a classic Japanese story of Bushido, the Samurai code of honor.  This particular adaptation is in graphic novel form, having been written by Sean Michael Wilson and Akiko Shimojima handling the art duties.  It follows the tale of a group of samurai, disgraced and left leaderless after their lord had assaulted a court official in Edo castle and committed seppuku.  The samurai, believing that their lord had borne great offense from this official, set out on a plan for revenge.

The art and writing are both spare, perhaps too much so.  It seems less like a smoothly-flowing story and more of a series of standalone panels.  It doesn’t flow, to my eye.  The emotion shifts from one panel to the next are jarring.  On one hand it will feel like true Japanese writing, but then the next panel will feel like a somewhat rough translation.  I’ll actually be quite curious to see the movie version that Keanu Reeves is starring in (I know, I know) this winter.  It’s due out around Christmas, and other than Keanu, has a solid cast of Japanese actors, including Rinko Kikuchi of Pacific Rim, Hiroyuki Sanada (The Last Samurai), and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Mortal Kombat, Pearl Harbor, many others).  I mean, it’s hard to beat the look of samurai on the big screen, and an adaptation with a bit more energy could be epic.

Thanks to NetGalley for the early look, and if you are curious about the graphic novel, pre-order it here (looking at November for release, to hit before the movie).