Usagi Yojimbo: Two Hundred Jizo (#141, UY #200) – Stan Sakai

4 out of 5

A 200th issue celebration would likely prompt some cheekiness from most creators – extra pages, winky cameos, somesuch – but for Stan Sakai, it’s just business as usual: a solid story with emotional bite. The ‘two hundred’ in the title could almost be coincidental; it’s not, of course, but that’s just to say that the story resonates naturally – the inclusion of a couple hundred of those little statues is not the aforementioned cheekiness. It’s also nice how this carries over from the Ishida mystery, with a character whose lack of appearance I questioned being answered by their appearing here, and causing trouble for Usagi, and the farmer who’s heard a message from the gods to construct 200 jizo statues in order to ward off the gangsters who’ve been plaguing him.

The rain-soaked panels are thrilling, and the buildup to an inevitable but immensely satisfying ending is well-paced, excepting a sequence where Usagi is down and out for the count – there are a couple of odd beats to the storytelling here where you’re expecting the (seemingly unconscious) Usagi to do something in-panel, and instead he just… lays there. It’s weird. But then, y’know, eventually he’s not laying there, and is instead kicking ass like a good bunny.