New Manga Editions of the Samurai Classics The Demon's Sermon on the Martial Arts and The 47 Ronin Released This Year by Shambhala Publications

May 1, 2013—The Demon's Sermon on the Martial Arts: A Graphic Novel is a classic collection of martial arts parables, written by Issai Chozanshi, an eighteenth-century samurai, and published earlier this year by Shambhala Publications. The stories, which feature demons, insects, birds, cats, and numerous other creatures, may seem whimsical, but they contain essential teachings that offer insight into the fundamental principles of the martial arts.

Infused with Chozanshi's deep understanding of Taoism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Shinto, the tales elucidate the nature of conflict, the importance of following one's own nature, yin and yang, the cultivation and transformation of ch'i (life energy), and the attainment of mushin (no-mind). Ultimately, the reader learns in a visually exciting way that the path of the sword is a path of self-knowledge and leads to an understanding of life itself.

Also available in November, and just before the release of Universal Pictures film starring Keanu Reeves, is The 47 Ronin, a new graphic novel based on the Japanese national legend. In the eighteenth century, forty-seven samurai avenged the death of their master in a plot that would take over two years to complete. After succeeding in their mission, the masterless samurai—known as ronin—all committed ritual suicide.

The historical event has inspired many writers and artists over the years and numerous fictionalized versions and adaptations have emerged. In The 47 Ronin, Sean Michael Wilson has created a historically factual portrait, enhanced by evocative and often lyrical drawings by Akiko Shimojima. While there are other depictions of the story in manga form, this version stands out as being the most accurate and most compelling.

Sean Michael Wilson is a Scottish comic book writer who lives in Japan. He has had more than a dozen books published by a variety of US, UK, and Japanese publishers, and he often works with Japanese and Chinese artists on manga-style books, such as Hagakure and AX: Alternative Manga.

William Scott Wilson is the foremost translator into English of traditional Japanese texts on samurai culture. His best-selling translations include Hagakure and The Book of Five Rings.

Michiru Morikawa is a Japanese illustrator and manga artist. She has won the prestigious International Manga and Anime Award in Britain, and earlier in her career received a prize for Best New Manga Artist from Kodansha.

Akiko Shimojima lives in Tokyo, Japan, and has been working as a professional manga artist for about 10 years. Her work has appeared in the anthologies of major Japanese manga publishers, and her work appears in the charity book Aftershock: Artists Respond to Disaster in Japan and the forthcoming bilingual edition of The 47 Ronin.

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