Title: The Elusive Samurai Vol.1
Author: Yusei Matsui
Release Date: July 5, 2022
Publisher: VIZ Media
Weekly Shonen Jump has been known for having a wide range of genres for the shonen demographic in its magazine, from classics like Hunter x Hunter and One Piece to less conventional series like PPPPPP and Witch Watch. Elusive Samurai Vol. 1 seems somewhere in the middle, balancing comedy, action, and historical events in Feudal Japan while keeping the reader hooked with its unusual writing style.
The story focuses on Hojo Tokiyuki, the son of Lord Hojo Takatoki. Without diving into the intricacies of feudal japan’s ruling system too soon, Yusei Matsui – the author – showcases the complications for Tokiyuki as the son of a Shogun who is merely a puppet to his advisors while also being known as the untalented, weak-willed but kind son who will only become the new puppet once his father passes.
It’s impressive how in a concise amount of pages, Matsui can adequately portray the core dilemma for the story and then leads it into the central antagonist of the story; whom I won’t name, to keep the tension of the first chapter high for those who haven’t read it yet.
That is what makes the first volume such a gripping read, the reveal of the true enemy and the goal that Tokiyuki must achieve lays the groundwork for the ambiance of the story. Basically, Tokiyuki ends up on the run after a coup d’etat happens in his, and he is the last in the royal bloodline, but this is the ideal situation for him because he has been known for his elusive his entire life, pun intended.
The first volume of Elusive Samurai hones in on the reasoning behind the title, pretty much the foundation for the shenanigans and historical exaggerations that fuel the narrative and the character’s motives.
Even with such tense and overlying severe issues, the Elusive Samurai vibe stays comedic and light-hearted. It’s almost jarring how the characters can be so comedic in moments of action, tension, or casual conversation. Yet, through Yusei’s creativity, it gives off a warm feeling that is hard to replicate without genuine energy.
Overall, the first volume felt like a teaser to what could become a more extensive and more intricate plot that could even become highly political, depending on the decisions made in the writing room. How far Tokiyuki has gone in his quest to reclaim his place as Shogun, and the new allies that have joined him should be complex characters to keep an audience for the series in Japan and 70 chapters released in Weekly Shonen Jump.
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