October 6, 2007

Syura Yukihime: Lady Snowblood

lady snowbloodTitle: Lady Snowblood (Syura Yukihime)
Story: Kazuo Koike
Art: Kazuo Kamimura
Volumes: 4
Genre: Seinen

Ever since I read Lone Wolf & Cub, I've been interested in Kazuo Koike's works. Lady Snowblood, Syura Yukihime in Japanese, is one of them.

It's a mature manga with lots of nudity, violence and other forms of profanity. Don't get me wrong though. I think all those are needed to build up the story. Like the nudity, for example, it doesn't go to the extent of being called pornography. The sexually graphic scenes are all essential in portraying the personalities of the characters. And the violence? It is needed since this is a bloody path towards revenge.

So what is it about? Well, Lady Snowblood tells of the life of Oyuki, otherwise known as Lady Snowblood. Ever since birth, she has had the weight of vengeance on her shoulders and she is on the path of syura - a Japanese Buddhism term for demons (correct me if I'm wrong though).

Oyuki was born to kill the four people who ruined her mother's life by killing her husband and Oyuki's brother. Barely out of being a toddler, Oyuki has been trained by a swordsman to act on her instincts. The training was hard and as you read that part, you'll really see how much she had to go through, even as a kid, just to fulfill her duty in this world.

Oyuki eventually became an assassin for hire by anyone who can afford her services. At the same time, she helps those whom she sees righteous and stuff. It's more of helping people whose goals aren't clashing with her principles. It wasn't clearly stated in the manga, but that's my interpretation based on her clients.

The four-volume manga follows her life - from her background to the day she finds the men she was born to kill. Yep, four volumes fit all that but you don't feel as if you were rushed into the story, neither will it leave you hanging and wondering what happened.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that Lady Snowblood's story happens during the Meiji era in Japan. Since this was a time when Western influences were entering the country, you will see various references to that period, both local and foreign cultures. You won't get lost with the references though because there's a glossary at the end of each volume - a complete one for those who aren't that well-versed in Japanese history and culture.

Overall, the story is great and the artwork gives justice to the story and characters. I recommend Lady Snowblood for those who are fans of history-themed manga, fans of manga like Samurai Executioner and Lone Wolf & Cub, and well..those who want to try something new or found this review interesting enough.

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