“Softly Falling Snow” – Lady Snowblood (manga) – 9/10 Pencils

Revenge is a confession of pain. ~ Proverb

Mangaka: Kazuo Koike

Genre: Action/Historical/Drama

Review Status: Complete (4 Volumes/4 Volumes)

Licensed: Yes, this manga is licensed by Darkhorse in the US.

Art: This overall looks really good. This keeps to realistic anatomy while looking… refined, for lack of a better word. It also uses a lot of light and dark imagery, rarely going into shades of grey, which goes well with the dramatic themes of the manga. The lines are very crisp and clean, the faces very expressive. There’s nothing that’s really lacking in this department.

Summary: She spells out revenge with strokes of gushing blood. Her name is Yuki, Japanese for “snow.” Born to be a child of hell, walking a path of vengeance for cimes committed against the family she never met, Lady Snowblood will prevail. For the price of one thousand yen, she works as a mater assasin, with a blade and her wits as weapons. It’s a time of change, of modern culture pressing in on archaic Edo, but in Lady Snowblood’s mind, the old tradition of a bloody grudge lives on. (back cover of 1st volume)

Review: Whether you like Lady Snowblood will hinge on how you feel about her motives behind her journey for revenge. This is ultimately the driving force behind her actions, and even her jobs tend to reflect the uncertain nature of whether she’s doing the right thing. It’s fraught with shades of moral grey and notions of honor that are vaguely familiar.

Her motives aren’t clear at first, revealed through a series of flashbacks and incidents as she gets closer to her goal: finding those who destroyed her mother’s family. It’s the only thing she lives for, unable to lift the burden of her mother’s death and live her own life until it’s finished. Along the way, she encounters villains and rights wrongs to the few she does care about, feels responsible for, or even stains the honor of the nation. She will do any job, though, as long as she gets payment for it, but even with payment there’s no guarantee that the person who pays her will get off guilt-free as long as there’s some guilt in their past.

The variety of jobs she takes and trails she undergoes is astounding, from learning to pickpocket, to killing off many state officials.She encounters Yakuza gang leaders and small-time thieves. They are treated with the same amount of care and intensity with their stories, which makes her tales more compelling. The dramatic turn the last volume takes, with Lady Snowblood finding a way to flush out the criminals by revealing her story, seems as ingenuous a twist than any, making a story-within-a-story of sorts.

She does manage to find those who tormented her mother, and finish her revenge, but the story is as bittersweet as any. There’s a moral grey area that she must navigate, and it is never an easy task to find a way to save the innocent when all you want to do is kill the guilty and all associated – something that she has done before. It is a satisfying ending, though, feeling like the start of a new beginning at the same time.

Overall, this is one of the more interesting and compelling manga I’ve read, and it really does a good job of making me feel for the characters.

Recommended: 18+! This has some rather graphic violence – people are beheaded, imbs are cut off, they are shot and stabbed… Blood is a very common thing. There isn’t any graphic gore, but that doesn’t really help matters. Men, women, and children are killed. There are also a number of depictions of sex. Sometimes it’s rape, sometimes it’s consensual, sometimes it’s heterosexual sex, sometimes it’s homosexual sex, and while it never reaches pornographic it is fairly detailed in the implications. At one point you even see a penis right up there on the page (though it’s a filled-in-shadow, it’s a very detailed shadow).

Other titles you might enjoy:

Lone Wolf and Cub (manga)

Samurai Executioner (manga)

Sidooh (manga)

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Vivi
    May 16, 2012 @ 21:09:35

    This sounds great. You won me over with the mention of beheading/limbs/blood/stabbing/etc…. the story seems cool too haha jk.

    lol p-penis………………

    Reply

    • sweetpea616
      May 21, 2012 @ 17:52:15

      xD I know that these series appeal to people, and this had enough heart behind it that I was totally into it! ^.^ (and yes, penis. More preofessional than any other term I could use for it, yes?)

      Reply

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