Usagi Yojimbo: A Ghost Story (#27, UY #265) – Stan Sakai

3 out of 5

Fairly standard ghost tales / mythology retellings are a reliable fallback for Stan Sakai and Usagi Yojimbo. That most of them are fairly predictable – setting aside whatever cultural aspects from Japanese folklore that might seem odd to one not exposed to such things before – does not equate to these fallbacks being a bad thing; they are often injected with Stan’s storytelling skills, and further buoyed by the charm of seeing Usagi and others react to them. It’s even possible that we’ve gotten a one-shot with a similar generic name as “A Ghost Story” before, within the 200+ issues of UY.

But sometimes these things are fairly rote. Now, “rote” Usagi means we’re hitting an average that’s far above a midline quality in comparison to most titles, and Stan is never exactly going through the motions, artwise. In fact, the art and lettering are as energized as they have been of late, bringing a lot of life to this mostly walking-and-talking tale, especially when paired with Hi-Fi’s insanely precise color work, so varied and bright and yet subtle in its blend. However, maybe it’s that Usagi’s pal recently, Yukichi, hasn’t proven to have much of a personality yet – he’s even stuck with one constant kinda bug-eyed expression throughout – or maybe it’s that this particular ghost tale doesn’t have much in the way of depth or twists, but it does just kind of walk and talk, and then end.

UY and Yukichi hear the story of Midori, a woman working for a merchant who was impregnated by him, then murdered to cover up the affair. Soon, they run across a woman beset by assassins, rescue her, and come to learn that her life echoes Midori’s. The pieces fall into place easily, for an enjoyable but very familiar ride.