Focus Magazine
4/16/93
Strange Rabbit -
Popular American Comic Author is Third Generation Japanese
    Nowadays a rabbit is hopping around in America.  In addition, some cats and bats are also pretty active.  Further more, they have Japanese names like Miyamoto, Chizu, and Gennosuke.
    These characters sprang forth from the talented Mr. Stan Sakai (39).  A third Generation Japanese-American, he is currently the author of the popular American comic, "Usagi Yojimbo".
    The main character is Miyamoto Usagi, and according to the author, he originally served a Daimyo named Mifune who was killed in a rebellion.  Now Usagi has become a Ronin, a wandering Samurai.
    Tomoe Ame is a woman who he secretly harbors feelings for.  With her long hair and bright smiling face, not surprisingly resmbles his third generation Japanese-American wife, Sharon.
    That being said though, featured characters are all animals.
    "Usagi is something of a mix of the passionate samurai of Kurosawa movies and also comes from the heroic Sheriff of Hollywood westerns," says Sakai.
    Originally Sakai's father was a second generation Japanese-American, but Sakai was born in Kyoto when his father came to Japan as a soldier.  From childhood he was raised hearing Japanese folklore and fairytales.  Hawaii being close to Japan, he spent these tender years in Japanese Movie theaters.  "I loved to go to see Samurai Movies."
    Recently because there haven't been many good Samurai Movies, he has been reading the English version of Eiji Yoshikawa's "Miyamoto Musashi".  Of course he has also been studying "Go Rin no Sho" (A Book of Five Rings) and anthropomorhic comics.
    According to the Managing Editor of "Usagi"'s publisher, Fantagraphic Books, "It's extremely unique; I have never seen another comic book universe like it my experience."
   L.A. Bookshop owner Bill Libowitz admires, "It has an abundance of information about feudal Japan.  The author sympathetically depicts bushido extremely well."
    Practically, thus far when different words such as "Ten" (Heaven), "Chi" (Earth), etc. are used, proper explanitory footnotes are there.
    Because he draws every issue himself, the comic only comes out once every two months.  However, it sells at a constant 20,000 copies.  Already the series has been collected into five graphic novels.  Recently Usagi has been placed in to future with the "Space Usagi" publication.  Talks are also progressing of a television animation.  With the Mutant Ninjas as precedent, perhaps this topknot-eared Hare could race past the Turtle in Japan!