03rd Nov2015

‘Samurai: Omnibus’ Review (Titan Comics)

by Dean Fuller

Written by Jean-Francois Di Giorgio | Art by Frederic Genet | Published by Titan Comics | Format: Hardback, 192pp

Samurai_Omnibus

Titan Comics have been doing an impressive job of late in bringing relatively unknown (to UK and US readers that is) but very high quality European creator created material to a wider audience. Curated content, if you will, and so far they have pretty much hit the mark with everything, bar one or two misfires. Samurai: Omnibus collects together, for the first time, the previously published 4 volumes of Samurai, with the ambition of then reprinting material that has never before been published in English. So is Titan’s confidence in the book warranted?

Samurai tells the story of Takeo, a man living in feudal Japan who has achieved the status of samurai. He is a man though with a complicated history, seemingly abandoned by his family and raised in a monastery, and desperate to find his missing brother who left him. The reveal of Takeo’s back story is important as it drives the current story forward.Takeo’s personal quest feeds into a wider narrative involving General Akuma, perhaps the most powerful man in Japan behind the Emperor, who he is planning to betray. The mystery of the 13th Prophet is also something that Takeo gets drawn into, leading him to Akuma.

I think we can all agree there is plenty here to sink your teeth into. The hero on his quest, fighting, political intrigue, fighting, dark forces at play, and did I mention fighting?

The first thing I have to talk about on reading Samurai is, as good as all the plotting/ scripting/setup is, is just how stunningly good the art is. Incredibly detailed and textured, beautifully laid out and very clever use of space on page. Some pages have many panels on them, some just one dominant panel, yet the story always flows evenly and never feels too cluttered. Amazing figure work is even bettered by incredibly rendered background environments. I simply cannot praise the quality of the artwork enough. The use of colour throughout also has a major impact on the look and feel of the book, with the vivid colours making the art jump off the page, making it look even more impressive if that is possible.

The story itself is decent enough, and I actually enjoyed it, but is nothing that we have not seen before. Anyone familiar with heroic literature, and/ or traditional themes in manga will know what to expect. A brave, selfless hero, a dastardly villain, a journey, both physically and emotionally, and ultimately a redemption of sorts. I won’t spoil the specifics, but like me I think you’ll work out various connections and solve an early mystery well in advance of the story confirming it. It’s certainly never dull, maintains a nice pace and balances action and emotion well. It has a very cinematic scope to it, and actually reminded me a little of the old Onimusha games on the Playstation, with a sort of ‘play a level, move on’ feel to the chapters.

Epic, but with enough of a personal focus to make you care about the main characters, and illustrated in a stunning fashion Samurai is great stuff. If you enjoy manga and anime it is a must-buy, for everyone else highly recommended.

**** 4/5

Samurai: Omnibus is out now from Titan Comics

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