HomeComics/MangaMANGA REVIEW | "The Elusive Samurai" - Vols. 6 & 7

MANGA REVIEW | "The Elusive Samurai" - Vols. 6 & 7

MANGA REVIEW | "The Elusive Samurai" - Vols. 6 & 7

Even if you have a perfect strategy ready to go, one single piece of info can cause you to toss it aside and think of a new one. As Hojo Tokiyuki aims to reclaim Kamakura, he must be careful with any plan that may be implemented. So when a certain somebody arrives that can throw a monkey wrench into the plan, it’s high time for Hojo and his Elusive Warriors to take the high road towards safety. And as we see in the sixth volume of The Elusive Samurai, the most safest spot is where the enemy least expects them to be: right under their noses!

Although the Suwa forces suffer lost ground and many casualties in their recent fight against the Ashikaga governor, the help Hojo gave them aided in keeping the death toll lower. On top of that, Hojo’s wisdom and knowledge have grown from this experience, resulting in him becoming a more well-rounded individual. But a glimmer of hope arrives in the form of Uncle Yasuie, whose true nature can literally be read on his forehead. However, when Genba comes face-to-face with a Tengu warrior, the time to stick around these parts comes to a swift end for Hojo.

Before all that chaos ensues, The Elusive Samurai puts a focus on the relationship between Hojo and Suwa. There’s a loving side to their bonds, even if the head of the Suwa Grand Shrine can be a little overbearing. With him losing his entire family, Hojo sees Suwa more and more like a father than a mere advisor. From talks about pure hair length to promises revolved around important life events, the duo showcase a plethora of trust and love that not even some blood family can muster up.

That’s when Suwa’s bloodline pops up to cause a little mischief. The appearance of his grandson (wait, how old is Suwa?) Yoritsugudono puts a rift between the warriors and the faithful. With the grandson challenging Hojo to a holy game of Tag, he quickly realizes that he’s made a grave mistake. After all, when you are as elusive and fast as Hojo, you’ve got no chance to either catch him or — in this case — evade him. It’s a teachable moment that allows Hojo to add Yoritsugudono to his ever growing number of allies.

But there’s no time to rest, as Genba’s news of a Tengu warrior being close by forces everyone to pack it up and leave for Kyo. Although the home of enemy Takauji, there’s a better chance of survival there rather than staying put. With the aid of Uncle Yasuie, Hojo and his Elusive Warriors head into Kyo and start blending in. And by blending in, I mean shopping, sightseeing, and — in the case of Genba — losing everything to a game of dice with the ladies.

It’s here where Shizuku shines the brightest in this volume. Her means of playing dice takes everyone by surprise, with Hojo resting on her lap and their lips…well, you best read it yourself, you scamps! This tactic takes everyone by surprise, with Shizuku taking the cake in more ways than one. Respect is earned, and a new ally enters the fold. Unfortunately, said new friend turns out to be the daughter of Sasaki Doya, one of Hojo’s biggest enemies!

In Volume Seven, Hojo finds himself growing as a leader and a strategist. On top of meeting the right people in Kyo, including one Kusunoki Masashige. Not only is Masashige talented with his sword and brain, but he shares the same flee-based philosophies of Hojo himself. It’s this aspect that allows Hojo to earn Masashige’s trust, to the point where the War God allows the boy to see what went into every plan made for the Mikado. Unfortunately, his chicken scratch-like writing makes for a very, very, VERY difficult read for Hojo.

However, there’s not enough time to decipher the manuscript, as The Elusive Samurai gives readers one of its most intense moments yet. On top of the plan to kill the Mikado, a second person arrives in town that comes out of left field: Ashikaga Takauji! A plan comes together for The Elusive Warriors to kill Takauji, which would make taking Kamakura back a whole lot easier. But despite Hojo and the gang growing to become better fighters than they did starting out, these are still kids we’re talking about! As such, both plans go south, albeit in ways that are still impressive.

While the trip to Kyo ends in failure, it does show that not all battles can be won, even with a solid plan in place. Disappointment hangs over Hojo’s head, but better that than a blade ready to decapitate him, right? Even Suwa is glad about what happened in Kyo, as it gave Hojo the chance to grow more both as a warrior and a leader. With more warriors waiting to lead the charge into battle, it’s become clear that Suwa and Hojo’s plan to reclaim Kamakura is shaping to be more successful than it was in the first volume.

On top of the main storyline, there’s also a surprising chapter in the seventh volume regarding Sadamune’s scariest warrior: Shokan. It’s clear that he’s a bloodthirsty killer, and will do anything to gain a victory. Yet when chatting with a child servant, his mannerisms transform into something more zen-like. Readers also get a glimpse of his true mentality, one that has a lot more guilt and remorse than one could’ve imagined. Even if he’s evil, for a brief moment, readers see that he still has a humanistic side of him that could lead to a surprise or two in the narrative’s long run.

Volume Six of The Elusive Samurai placed more focus on the fun aspect of the series, while Volume Seven brings things back to the action and strategy-oriented parts. There’s a great balance of both comedy and drama in these two volumes, as it demonstrates Yusei Matsui’s strengths in the storytelling and art department. The Elusive Samurai delivers with so much energy, that one would be forgiven if a late-night pillow fight broke out. Just make sure the pillows aren’t made of wood though…


Promotional consideration provided by Chantelle Sturt of VIZ Media.

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The J-POP king of America, Evan has been bringing the hottest sounds of the Land of the Rising Sun to the English-speaking public since his college radio days. He's also an expert in the gaming, anime, & manga realms, never afraid to get critical when the times call for it. Born & bred in Boston, he achieved his biggest dream yet by making the big move to Tokyo, Japan in Summer 2023! For personal inquiries, contact Evan at evan@b3crew.com. For press/band inquiries, write to us at thebastards@bostonbastardbrigade.com. (Drawing by AFLM of Wicked Anime)