REVIEW: ‘Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles,’ Season 1 Delivers A Fun Story

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Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles

Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles Season 1 is a kid’s animated series from Netflix based on the comic book Usagi Yojimbo by Stan Sakai. Yuichi Usagi is a young rabbit with dreams of becoming a samurai. Having grown up hearing tales of his ancestor, the legendary Miyamoto Usagi, he wishes to take the same path toward action and adventure. But he has much to learn. But before he does, Usagi’s impulsiveness is going to land him, and all of the city of Neo Edo in a world of trouble.

While many animated features aimed at kids try their best to entertain the older viewers as well, Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles Season 1 does not. Don’t get me wrong, the short ten-episode series has its moments where it managed to get a laugh out of me, but it is geared purely toward a younger audience. So while I’ll endeavor to give my best thoughts on the series, I’m not the target audience.

This series splits its narrative into three distinct parts that come together to form a cohesive tale. With the opening storyline seeing our would-be hero set out for Neo Edo, the viewer’s initial impressions of the young Usagi are not great. The excitable young man is impulsive to the ninth degree, repeatedly causing more harm than good. While the character’s need to think before acting is Usagi’s biggest personal challenge, the episodes where the show addresses this issue is easily its weakest.

The biggest problem with this plotline is how hard the show tries to drive home Usagi’s impulsiveness. Mistake after mistake is made, apologized for, and then immediately made again not even five minutes later. The exasperation of his friends was shared by myself as I sloughed through these moments. Happily, this only really hurts three of the season’s episodes.

The rest of the time, Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles Season 1 provides a fun tale of new friends coming together to help each other, as well as their city. With threats of spirits called Yokai, roaming gangs made up of bats and finger-snapping moles, and a clan of cat ninjas, Usagi and company have plenty to keep themselves busy.

When the core group is all together is when the show is clicking at its best. There are a few moments of genuine comedy that had me laughing, as well as numerous moments I can see a child goes nuts for. Combine this with a varied assortment of acceptable martial arts fight sequences and the show provides lots of solid enjoyment.

Along with the humor and action, Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles Season 1 also delivers the kind of life lessons one expects from a solid kids program. Lessons about patience, making broad judgments of people, and forgiveness are all present throughout the series.

The visual presentation in this series is quite good. The show’s two strongest visual elements are the design of Neo Edo itself and how it delivers flashbacks. A fusion of hovercars and classical Japanese style and ornamentation,  Neo Edo is both beautiful and memorable. I always found even the smallest elements well designed and interesting.

Frequently during Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles Season 1‘s tale, the viewer is treated to some gorgeously done flashback sequences. These moments abandon the CGI that makes up the bulk of the series for painted looking presentation that borrows heavily from classical Japanese art. Feeling more like a motion comic, these sequences deliver an air of gravitas that doesn’t jive with the rest of the series, but are so cool I’m loathed to complain about it.

The animation of the characters and world is fine. While some movements are a bit stiff and combat sequences are often choppy, the presentation manages to deliver the story in a way that gets the focus of each scene clearly to the viewer.

When all is said and done, Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles Season 1 is a fun adventure I think many kids will enjoy. While it doesn’t hold as much for adults, it certainly shouldn’t be one that will bother you if the child in your life decides they want to repeat Usagi’s adventure a few times.

Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles Season 1 is streaming on Netflix.


Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles Season 1
  • 8/10
    Rating - 8/10
8/10

TL;DR

When all is said and done, Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles Season 1 is a fun adventure I think many kids will enjoy. While it doesn’t hold as much for adults, it certainly shouldn’t be one that will bother you if the child in your life decides they want to repeat Usagi’s adventure a few times.