Titan Comics 2016
Written by Jean-Francois Di Giorgio
Illustrated by Frederic Genet
The sun has risen on the last day of the
tournament and Takeo must prepare to face the
master swordsman Shobei one final time – but
the rules of engagement today are different.
Shobei has requested that this encounter
be a fight to the death...
Nobunaga is also facing death,
as the hideous rash spreading across his
body proves beyond the skill of the
local doctor – or so he claims..
This has been one of the most gorgeous and interesting stories I’ve been honoured to read and review. It’s been so well written, the pacing of the story, the weaving between characters and their own stories with the tournament itself has been illuminating and cast this very unique cast of characters such different lights. Also let’s face it we don’t get a lot of stories like these in the States and to see one so well crafted, honouring the legacy and culture it comes from well it’s just beautiful.
Frederic’s interiors are the definition of gorgeous, look it up in the dictionary if you don’t believe me--or just check out the interiors. The attention to detail, the use of pages, panels and backgrounds highlight the characters in that moment. The way these characters come alive is mesmerising to me. They have this great power and beauty full of life and a grace to them that it almost literally takes your breath away at times.
Princess Terumi’s story opens this issue and we see that her studies haven’t been for naught as she’s devised a potion for what afflicts the townsfolk. Seeing her interest and what she’s done to her captor Nobunga it shouldn’t come as a surprise her actions towards these poor people. While part of me wished she were to play a larger role in Takeo’s life and who knows that still might be the case but she’s a wonderful character, strong and willful and a delight to see in this book.
I loved Nobunga’s reaction to his rash. Everything he had coming to him came and that more than anything else was perfectly done. I still maintain that what Jean-Francois does with him is brilliant, he is a product of his time and should be seen as such and yes he was a villainous person that’s all he knew.
We do see the final confrontation between Shobei and Takeo this issue. Everything we’ve seen of their back stories leads up to this. Even the story focusing on the young man, Masato, is tied into this as the entire saga and everyone on this island’s outcome depends on what happens here. Such an emotional encounter this is, one that could cut to the core as deftly as the sword they wield.
As the issue draws to a close and the focus shifts to Takeo and his brother it also sets up the next story. I’m a die-hard fan after these four issues and I’ll gladly follow whatever tales Jean-Francois wishes to tell. Along with Frederic they’ve brought back this elegance to comics with their style of storytelling. Not only do we learn about another culture, society and way of life it’s done with respect and honour the Samurai are known for.