ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘Samurai 8: The Tale of Hachimaru,’ Volume 3

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Samurai 8: The Tale of Hachimaru

Creator Masashi Kishimoto, legendary artist who’s work on Naruto can’t be understated, has been telling a cyberpunk samurai story that fuses fantasy, bushido code, and science fiction together to create a unique world where a young boy, Hachimaru, becomes a samurai aided by his dog. Together, the two represent the future of the world and their quest to protect it from destruction is just beginning. Published by VIZ Media in English, the series is written by Kishimoto and features art by Akira Okubo. Last volume, Hachimaru has survived the attack of the deadly assassin Ata, but only because his father sacrificed his life. Now in Samurai 8: The Tale of Hachimaru Volume 3, it’s clear that Hachimaru and his companions aren’t out of danger just yet.

Samurai 8: The Tale of Hachimaru Volume 3 covers chapters 16 through 24 and begins with the moon plummeting toward the planet, having been by destroyed by Ata. With the threat of disaster, Hachimaru will have to use his master’s powerful technique to save everyone. Plus, in order to save the entire galaxy, the other samurai keys will have to be found which starts Hachimaru’s adventure. But, in true shonen fashion, there are a lot of troubles that await him as he leaves his home for the first time.

While the first two volumes of Samurai 8: The Tale of Hachimaru captured my heart with a balance of worldbuilding and emotional storytelling, Samurai 8: The Tale of Hachimaru Volume 3 doesn’t strike this balance nearly as well. As Hachimaru begins his journey after he accomplishes a star-breaking feat, Daruma has to explain his power, the affect on his body, and more about the samurai keys. With pages of exposition, the dialogue becomes too heavy and even with breaks for actions scenes, from chapter 17 until chapter 21, its too hard to focus on the story’s characters and instead, I was trying to make sure I could follow all of the lore being presented.

That said, chapter 21 begins a battle royal as a menacing figure watches removed from the violence, alá Mojo World. From the start of the battle royal to the end of Samurai 8: The Tale of Hachimaru Volume 3, there is enough action and gorgeous art to make up for the slow exposition of the first half. While the pages feel crowded with too many speech balloons, the large interior splash pages showcase Okubo’s inventive cyberpunk samurai.

Sadly, much in the same way Naruto struggled with its female characters, so does Samurai 8: The Tale of Hachimaru Volume 3. Ann, the princess paired with Hachimaru is consistently not seen as an equal throughout the volume and ultimately, even the chapter that showcases her background largely revolves around her brother. While I hope that this changes, I don’t know if it will, which is par for the course of action shonen but sad nonetheless.

Overall, Samurai 8: The Tale of Hachimaru Volume 3 is weighed down by its exposition and filling each page with speech balloons that obscure phenomenal art and tell the story rather than trusting the audience to infer while reading and taking in Okubo’s art. While this isn’t a bad volume per-say, it’s middle of the road which is frustrating given the emotional power of volume 2.

Samurai 8: The Tale of Hachimaru Volume 3 will be available from booksellers on August 4, 2020.


Samurai 8: The Tale of Hachimaru Volume 3 
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TL;DR

Overall, Samurai 8: The Tale of Hachimaru Volume 3 is weighed down by its exposition and filling each page with speech balloons that obscure phenomenal art and tell the story rather than trusting the audience to infer while reading and taking in Okubo’s art. While this isn’t a bad volume per-say, it’s middle of the road which is frustrating given the emotional power of volume 2.