Strange Rabbit -
Popular American Comic Author is Third Generation
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
"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
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
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!