Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Red Hot Chili Samurai, vol. 1

Created by Yoshitsugu Katagiri
Published in the US by TokyoPop

Slugline:  Just as spinach gives you strength chilis make you a swordsman.

Kokaku is the son of the Han's (or province) leader.  The province is small and poor so Kokaku has to help in keeping the peace, which he is glad to do because it allows him to kick butt on a regular basis.  Unlike many other samurai Kokaku does not feel the need to use his sword to kill, having been taught while he was young and impressionable that the sword was to protect people.  Kokaku has some friends who help out in upholding justice and other cool sounding catchphrases like that.  These are the studious and serious guy, the competitive girl and the silent ninja, all of whom do not really need names since they are their appearances.  Despite his need to make sure that the people are protected and justice is served, Kokaku still has more than a healthy ego, often revealing his family tattoo of a black crane when knocking out his opponents so that they know who beat them.

Something about the name Red Hot Chili Samurai led to the impression of the title being more energetic and interesting than the resulting rather standard adventure story with samurai trappings.  The samurai aspect does not seem to be that important since anachronisms are introduced on the flimsiest of reasons.  The use of the chilis, rather than being symbolic of characters or having some subtle meaning becomes just another gag.  The supporting characters are straight out of central casting with only the smallest of flourishes to make them unique.  While there is an attempt to show Kokaku's motivation, by the time it is introduced there is already ample evidence that shows instead his desire to be the center or attention and put his opponents in their place.  That way, Kokaku gets to be arrogant in an acceptable way.  None of the characters are mean, but neither are they as heroic as they think they are.

Red Hot Chili Samurai, vol. 1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga


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