Usagi Yojimbo: The Hatamoto’s Daughter (#159) – Stan Sakai

4 out of 5

An average – though for average, Usagi equals  damn good – UY tale, despite its abrupt ending.

Issue 159 takes the ‘Usagi stumbles on to something’ path, which is pretty common for Stan’s setups, but how deeply involved he lets his rabbit ronin get is the flavor.  The Hatamoto’s Daughter was especially interesting in how Usagi comes across the scenario completely after the fact, and actually on his way to a destination for once – to visit Inspector Ishida – so there was a very pleasant matter-of-fact aspect to things.

The matter is a young girl, shocked into silence having witnessed her father’s death at the hands of three bandits.  Daddy’s body lies nearby when Usagi finds the girl in hiding.

Escorting her into town, he is quickly engaged by the same bandits, and puts together enough pieces to summon Ishida to put the law smack down.  The ending starts to shape up like the usual morality play – ya get what ya give – when Sakai goes one level deeper, seemingly setting up the story for more but ending it there.  As this setting carries over to next issue, perhaps down the road this question mark will pay off.

Sakai’s deft characterization is in full swing, especially notable with the mute young girl, whose shocked state you wholly believe.  The linework is muscular and strong; the fights are, as usual, fluid and exciting.

Ya know, the average greatness.