A futuristic tale of samurai adventure from the creator of Naruto!
Becoming a samurai seems like an impossible dream for Hachimaru, a boy who can’t even survive without the help of his father. But when a samurai cat appears before him, his whole life changes! A legendary manga creator and a rising star come together to bring you this science fiction samurai epic!
Samurai 8 made me go like WTAF is going on multiple times during reading the book, which is ironic considering how much of its time it devotes to exposition. You’d think a story about samurais in space would be hella cool, but the plot is so clogged up in its introductory first volume, skipping from one thing to another, that it just ruins the concept. Short version of the story – its the future, there are many planets, samurais are a thing but they are transformed from this ball thing into cyborgs, and there is some prophecy about seven key samurai. Heavy implication that they are chosen from simple bushi and it isn’t always successful, and Hachimaru is chosen. Hachimaru has been sickly since birth, and his father has him connected to a machine to stay alive, plus the kid has prosthetics, so he’s disabled and basically grounded at his house, and a master at video games, especially those involving samurai, and when a famous samurai comes at his door, and then a little latter, trouble comes knocking, and Hachimaru gets transformed into a samurai, and his adventure begins. There’s some other subplots going on but I won’t even begin to be able to explain it here, so nevermind.
In any case, that plot alone doesn’t warrant the low rating, tbh. But my frustration with the artwork, too, along with the plot thing, does. The art is so chaotic, and each panel is filled with elements and flying objects, that it renders the whole set-up to be quite confusing; applying tones would have mitigated the chaos a bit, but they were sparingly used. Even the action panels suck because you can’t even make out what is going on. The samurai armor and stuff are blocked behind aforementioned objects, so it isn’t even aesthetically pleasing. It feels like a mish-mash of totally inorganic exposition by characters, underwear jokes, some random jumps through the plot, flying pets, and stuff. Where’s the spaaace????
And then where to start on the problematic elements?! Hachimaru’s disability is barely given any consideration, only in the form of it holding him back; like, I get it, he’s a kid, he feels confined in his house as he isn’t allowed to go out, and, well, cyborg body can be like advanced prosthetics, but the line ‘this is the real you’ from his samurai master (after he becomes a cyborg) tips it over into ableist territory. Then there’s the character of Nanashi – they don’t specify which gender they are, and talk through imagining their hands as a man and a woman instead, so they switch between pronouns as they talk, and mention that they have no idea what their name or gender is. Hachimaru just says to determine gender based on what is dangling between his legs. *facepalm* What’s the point of having a futuristic element if you’re still gonna be transphobic, dude? Also, I don’t know what the deal is with those princesses and the samurai having to be their ‘boyfriend’ so I’m not even going to address that one. What a waste of the futuristic genre if it’s the same gendered BS again.