Among recent re-tellings of one of Japan’s most famous historical moments, this manga version of “The 47 Ronin” tells the true tale of 47 samurai, who after becoming leaderless, enact a plan of revenge against their late master’s adversary. In stark contrast to the upcoming Keanu Reeves film of the same title and very, very, looselybased on the same incident, this book promises to be more historically accurate. Where Reeves’ film features fantastical elements such as witches and giants, the manga focuses on historical drama, and the humanity of the characters, rather than spectacle fantasy.
Despite being widely known in both Japan and abroad, the story of the assasination of a court official named Kira Yoshihisa by the 47 Ronin, and their subsequesnt suicide has seldom been retold with accuracy since it’s occurrence in December 1702. Shogun censorship laws in early Japan prevented true depictions of the story in both theater or print, so many historical retellings do not tell the complete story.
The work is presented in traditional manga style, with both English and Japanese captions accompanying the black and white illustrations. This art is welldrawn although at times it can be difficult to tell characters apart as they look too similar. The simplified narrative is entertaining and it moves swiftly, however the character dialogue may feel a little lacking at times. Despite these qualms, readers interested in accurate Japanese history rather than Hollywood embellishment will enjoy this well-done retelling of this legendary event.