Hagakure was originally a group of stories and musings by a samurai named Yamamoto Tsunetomo, which were collected by the scribe Tsuramoto Tashiro between the years 1709 to 1716. It wasn’t until 1979 that William Scott Wilson translated the book into English, and it is upon this translation that writer Sean Michael Wilson (no relation) created the script for the manga. …The plot for Hagajure revolves around a young samurai -in this case he is actually depicted as the scribe Tsuramoto Tashiro- learning the philosophies of the samurai from an old master – the original author Yamamoto Tsunetomo… The stories are divided into chapters which group them loosely together in themes, such as loyalty, revenge, kaishaku & seppuku, and sincerity. …The story that will seem the most shocking, perhaps, is the one in which Yamamoto discusses the practice of beheading in frank detail, claiming that to be unnerved by the practice is to be a coward. There are plenty of anecdotes about ritualised suicide as well, and squeamish readers may find it difficult to wade through -particularly with the effective illustration work of London-based Japanese artist Chie Kutsuwada, who manages to convey the horror and brutality of the stories without allowing the gore to take centre stage. …All in all, this is a great introduction to one of the most important works on samurai philosophy, and an excellent way to dip your toes into what is a very lengthy and involved piece of (original) text. –NEO Magazine; Jan 2011
About the Author
SEAN WILSON has written a number of comic books and manga, including Sweeney Todd (Classical Comics, due summer 2010, also a Johnny Depp movie), Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol (Classical Comics, winter 2008), Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights (Classical comics, due Autumn 2010), Lafcadio Hearn’s Japanese Ghost Stories (2007, in both English and Japanese versions) Oscar Wilde’s Canterville Ghost (Classical Comics, spring 2010), The Japanese Drawing Room, with RING horror manga artist Sakura Mizuki (summer 2006), The Story of Lee (due summer 2010, NBM Inc., NYC), Buskers (winter 2009, in tandem with a movie of the same name with several well-known actors attached), Iraq: Operation Corporate Takeover (2007), with an exhibition in London in 2009. He is presently editing AX: Alternative Manga, a 400-page collection of cutting-edge Japanese manga in English (summer 2010, Top Shelf, USA). For the Dickens book, he is working with famed comic book artist Mike Collins, who’s done Batman, Superman, Harry Potter, and others. He has received several grants from both the English Arts Council and others. A well-known figure in teaching manga in the UK, CHIE KUTSUWADA first graduated as an art major from a Japanese college before her moving to London, where she continued her studies at the Royal College of Art in London. After finishing her education, she settled in London, where she started creating manga. Her first unique 100-page love story, King of a Miniature Garden was published in 2007 as a part of The Mammoth Book of Best New Manga 2. In 2008, her short, heart-warming ghost story Moon Light was short-listed for the competition at the Japan Embassy in London and included in Best New Manga 3. She drew the manga for an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s As You Like It with the writer Richard Appignanesi and published by Self Made Hero. She’s now busy illustrating The Story of Lee (due summer 2010, NBM Inc.) with Hagakure co-author Sean Wilson. Ms. Kutsuwada also runs manga workshops and gives talks on drawing manga around the U.K., including such well-known venues as the Victoria & Albert Museum, British Library and British Museum.
This manga adaptation of what Ivan Morris called the most influential of all samurai treatises is told in a form reminiscent of The Arabian Nights;. A young, upcoming samurai seeks the advice of an older, experienced warrior who has become a Zen monk. The ambitious young samurai humbly begs to learn from the old master, who consents. So begins a series of eventful meetings. At each sitting, the seasoned samurai tells his young student tales of samurai past. Tales of famous warriors are recited. With brutal, unrelenting samurai justice, wrongs are righted and judgment is passed. With each incident, the young novice learns what it means to be a samurai. Learns what courage and right thought are. Learns the harsh realities and subtle wisdom of his age. With text by scriptwriter Sean Wilson, and vivid manga by Chie Kutsuwada, Hagakure will enthral legions of manga and martial arts fans. An important Afterword is provided by William Scott Wilson, translator of Yamamoto Tsunetomo’s orginal Hagakure.