- Grade Level: 4 - 6
- Series: Usagi Yojimbo (Book 23)
- Paperback: 244 pages
- Publisher: Dark Horse; First edition (July 8, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1595822984
- ISBN-13: 978-1595822987
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 9 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,232,989 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Paperback – July 28, 2009
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Showing 1-8 of 9 reviews
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If the previous volume (Tomoe's Story) felt a tad light-hearted and cute, Bridge of Tears (vol. 23) flies in the opposite direction, delivering story after story of rich tragedy and savage brutality.
The volume begins with "Remnants of the Dead," a story that starts like so many of Usagi's others: he seeks to protect two innocents from the murderous desires of a band of assassins. However, this time around, it's a father and his particularly endearing little daughter. Watching the daughter get caught up in the struggle with a sword held to her throat is shocking. Add to this the particular lack of scruples that this band of assassins has, killing each other in cold blood when it suits their purposes, as well as one draw-dropping, eye-watering surprise ending, and you know you've got one heck of a story.
And the savagery doesn't end there...
"Shizukiri" depicts the tragic downfall of an assassin who was going to quit and live happily with his wife after one last job, "Boss Hamanaka's Fortune" is the tale of how greed tears an entire town apart, once again leaving bounty hunters and assassins to betray each other in the most savage of ways, and "The Return of the Black Soul" is the most raw and ferocious battle with Jei ever depicted on the comics page. Watching Gen and Stray Dog reduced to howling, whimpering shadows of themselves on the rain-soaked battlefield makes for an incredibly intense moment in Usagi history.
Finally, "Bridge of Tears" is a tragic near-love story in which Usagi finds a new potential love interest (a bit too quickly after just saying goodbye to Tomoe) and must decide whether there is room for one more in his solitary warrior's pilgrimage. This story, in particular, struck a powerful chord with the Usagi fan community, especially after an alternate to the controversial published ending was revealed. Creator Stan Sakai expects to include the alternate ending in the (hopefully) forthcoming Art of Usagi Yojimbo vol. 2.
This volume also includes Stan Sakai's 100th issue celebrity roast which, while endearing to those of us who hold deep affection for the creator of Usagi Yojimbo, is completely out of continuity and has little to do with the world of Usagi.
Bridge of Tears is a surprising Usagi installment in that it takes the ruthless brutality of Usagi's world one step further. The villians are more cruel and sadistic, the combat is more terrifying, and the tragedies are far more evocative. All of this makes for fantastic storytelling and, if you like this darker approach, then you haven't seen anything until you get to the next volume. Still, I would caution that this volume is probably not for the kids. While Usagi is usually a very child-friendly comic, this volume and the one that follows are serious departures from that mold.
AND Gen and Stray Dog finally catch up to Jei/Inazuma. This volume doesn't disappoint with story and action. Some of my favorite panels from the series are here.