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Jason Thompson's House of 1000 Manga - Path of the Assassin

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Joined: 08 Jun 2004
Posts: 58
PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2012 9:46 am Reply with quote
I've read every Kazuo Koike manga published in the US (at least to my knowledge). Goes without saying that I dug Path of the Assassin, though I'd have to give the edge among Dark Horse's historical Koike series to Lone Wolf and Cub and Samurai Executioner (gotta love how many stories in the latter end with a panel of a severed head flying through the air).

Lady Tsukiyama is a hoot in PotA; I admit to being rather envious of Motonobu when she becomes a greedily demanding devotee of his performance of that "horrific nighttime habit." Laughing
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Joined: 05 May 2006
Posts: 383
Location: Florida
PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2012 1:03 pm Reply with quote
It's fascinating to me that Lone Wolf and Cub is Dark Horse's best-selling manga title and one of its most acclaimed, yet Samurai Executioner and Path of the Assassin are written off as trashy. Asa and Hanzo don't get the kudos that are directed towards Ogami Itto. Perhaps it's because only Lone Wolf and Cub has the Frank Miller connection and endorsement, which means a lot to Dark Horse's "existing US comics readers" primary readership. It's not like the general manga-reading, anime convention-attending audience is the main group consuming this stuff. The fact that Lone Wolf and Cub was flipped to read from left-to-right whereas Path of the Assassin was not was likely also a significant factor in the "read this, but not that" decisions made by that audience.

It's unfortunate, because Path of the Assassin, like Samurai Executioner and everything Koike writes, is delightfully mad underneath its visual and narrative veneer of claimed historical accuracy. For some reason people forget that in the later volumes of Lone Wolf and Cub, Ogami Itto too finds himself doing the weirdo sex stuff that Samurai Executioner/Path of the Assassin come running out of the gates with. I suspect that reason for many is "because they didn't read that far" or "those stories were skipped in the original US release."

15 volumes is asking a lot, but the good thing about the Dark Horse Koike ninja/samurai manga is that a lot of it is available digitally. And get this: the digital editions are actually cheaper than the print for a change. $6 a digital volume gets you over 300 pages of NINJANIGANS, and if you've got any sort of modern tablet device the pages will be bigger than what you'd get if you bought the pocket-sized physical editions anyway. Goseki Kojima's artwork is so dense that the compressed printing of those editions takes away from it, so if anyone's interested in reading it you should by all means go the digital route.

As a special bonus treat, several years ago I tricked, er CONVINCED several other podcasters to perform a radio play style re-enactment of Hanzo Hattori's first assignment in Path of the Assassin, which Jason has alluded to in his column. You can listen to that beautiful disaster here. It's near the end, though earlier in the recording you can hear Mike Toole of The Mike Toole Show column performing his rendition of the theme song to Moon Phase. And yes, that's current ANN videogame reviewer Dave Riley as one of the firefighters and Shelf Life author Erin Finnegan as the poor fisherwoman. Look, that character runs aground of a ninja. Erin's a Ninja Consultant. It made sense at the time, okay?! (Also, she didn't know what she was reading for, and we probably supplied her with completely fake lines and then reconstructed what the actual lines heard were in post, but I hereby reserve my Fifth Amendment privilege.)
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