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YMMV / Usagi Yojimbo

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  • Adaptation Displacement/Marth Debuted in "Smash Bros.": Most people know the characters through their appearances in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
  • Complete Monster:
    • Lord Hikiji, the ultimate Big Bad of the series, schemes to be Shogun. Having murdered Usagi's father, and his master Lord Mifune, Hikiji launches brutal attacks on his enemies to kill and conquer all they possess. Preferring to operate from the shadows, Hikiji often resorts to dark schemes to foment chaos and murder in order to give himself an edge. He frequently disposes of his operatives while treating them as disposable pawns. Hikiji shows how truly monstrous he is in the coda to the saga Senso when a group of aliens crash on the world. Initially thought to have been killed, Hikiji later reveals that he has joined the aliens as an ally and is leading an attack on his own province to slaughter his own people in order to demonstrate his power to the entire planet. No longer content with just Japan, Hikiji believes he is destined to rule the entire planet, no matter who he has to slaughter.
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    • Noriko, known as the Blood Princess has had homicidal tendencies since childhood, where she would always beat her cousin Tomoe in spars to inflict as much pain as she could. In the present day, Noriko runs a mine, using slaves that have been press-ganged into service and worked to the point of death. Should any slave falter, Noriko promptly beheads the nearest one to serve as a morale-booster for the others. When she captures Tomoe, Noriko delights in treating her as a slave and when Tomoe refuses to perform the labor, Noriko furiously cuts down a random slave woman. When Tomoe immediately obeys to stop more death, Noriko sneers at her for caring about those of low birth. To conceal the mines, Noriko plans to blow it up, with every slave inside after all its resources are gone. She also reveals that she and Tomoe are actually ''sisters'' and when their father refused to acknowledge Noriko as his daughter, she murdered him, just as she had the man who raised her for for being weak. She reveals this while savagely beating Tomoe, taunting her that it's Tomoe's fault that he died.
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    • General Fujii was the head of a gang that took over a village. They reduced the workers to slaves, and ordered them to farm and cultivate for long hours. They would continue to do this until the tax collector came, at which point they would just kill all the villagers and go to another town. When Usagi infiltrates them, he's discovered and tortured, with Fujii taking his swords. When the peasants revolt, they slaughter their way through them, and Fujii abandons most of his men to die or face the police. He and his loyal Dragon take over another gang and launch raids on a village, where he almost murders the elderly headsman for refusing them. When the heroes attack the gang to take him down, he abandons his dragon to run. He is such a bastard that even the aforementioned gang becomes repulsed by him. Usagi actually repeatedly calls him a "monster".
      Fujii: "Yes, I suppose I am."
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  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Jei-san. Much like the Shredder and The Joker, he started off as just a one-shot villain, but was popular enough to be brought back and promoted to the hero's Arch-Nemesis, a position that used to belong to Lord Hikiji.
  • Genius Bonus: The woman who's a secret Christian wears a kimono with a subtle cross design, which was how real secret converts ID'd each other.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Stan Sakai has noted that the series is particularly popular in France, Spain and Poland, as well as America.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
  • I Am Not Shazam: "Yojimbo" (bodyguard) is not part of his name but sometimes his occupation while on the warrior's path. The 80s cartoon took "Usagi Yojimbo" for his name, the 2003 one correctly had "Miyamoto Usagi".
  • Mondegreen:
  • Moral Event Horizon: Hikiji's done much to cross it, but during the Senso miniseries, he allies himself with the Martian invaders despite all the death they're inflicting upon his own people.
    • Rodriguez was already portrayed as an arrogant jerk, but demanding to see a seppukku ritual like it's entertainment AND demanding a completely innocent victim for it is one of the worst things any of the villains in the series have done.
  • More Popular Spinoff: Originally the comic debuted as a one-issue story in Albedo: Erma Felna EDF when it was previously an anthology of many furry comics during the 80s. While Usagi Yojimbo became a worldwide hit, Albedo Erma Felna EDF became a footnote in the story of comic books, though a Cult Classic to the Furry Fandom.note 
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • Jei's introductory issue. The atmosphere was very haunting. What really set it was seeing Jei go from kind-enough to give Usagi a place to stay in the rain to a ravaging madman in the blink of an eye. When Usagi first fought him, he was close to death, had the bolt of lightning not interfered. While Jei was originally meant to be a one-shot villain, the ending left the reader wondering if he were really dead.
    • The nightmare Usagi has while struck with a fever from a poison dart. He dreams that he's become the new host of Jei, and breaks into Lord Noryuki's castle, mercilessly slaughtering all who stand in his way, before attacking Tomoe and Noryuki. Tomoe only manages to fight him to a Mutual Kill, with Usagi snapping out of his possesion moments before dying. When the fever breaks and Usagi wakes up, he hopes that it really was just a fever nightmare and not a case of Dreaming of Things to Come...
    • One of the "Travels With Jotaro" anthology revolves around Usagi and Jotoro trying to help a village opressed by a greedy and corrupt magistrate who gained his position by betraying the former lord of the area, being rewarded with his current job as a result. However, the magistrate is terrified of the nearby woods, where the betrayal took place, believing that it's haunted by the spirits of the men who died because of him. Usagi enacts a "Scooby-Doo" Hoax (a Call-Back to an earlier story where Usagi exposed one himself), which almost works, but fails at the last second. Chasing Usagi into the woods, the Magistrate becomes separated from his men, and suddenly turns around and notices that he's somehow found himself deep in the woods, despite only going a few feet. Soon, hours have passed, with him only getting more and more lost, the trees themselves seem to block his path. Suddenly, something spooks his horse, and someone calls his name... It then cuts to a few days later, with Usagi commenting on them beating the magistrates men, but that there was no sign of the magistrate himself, who seems to have disappeared without a trace. Jotaro wonders what happened to him... The final panel of the story reveals the agonized face of the magistrate trapped inside the bark of a tree.
  • Tear Jerker: Almost every story. Aren't you reading these?!
    • One early story comes to mind. It involves Usagi encountering the mother of a corrupt village ruler. We learn that the villain Used to Be a Sweet Kid. The mother tells Usagi to kill him, before claiming she was just joking. One night, Usagi finds the ruler dead with her mother cradling his body, revealing that she killed him herself. She begs Usagi to kill her, but he at first refuses. The issue ends with the mother singing a lullaby to her dead son before Usagi kills her off-panel and exits the house with tears in his eyes.
    • "Noodles" is a big one. Usagi encounters Kitsune, who has made a good friend friend in a huge, seemingly developmentally challenged man simply called "Noodles" (as he can tell her no other name), who helps her during her pickpocketing by hiding her in the soba box he carries aound when she runs from the law. He is every bit as gentle as he is huge, with Kitsune describing him as a "child in a giant's body" and expressing interest in building a new life with him. However, a corrupt police officer decides to frame Noodles for the recent crime wave he has caused due to his debt to gamblers, and within merely a day, Noodles is captured and publicly executed by crucification and being stabbed in the chest with spears, with poor Kitsune begging for his release and screaming it was her (despite her little pickpocketing having nothing to do with said crime wave) before breaking down sobbing. Also a case of Beware the Nice Ones as Kitsune sets one hell of a revenge in motion, orchestrating events to have the officer not only outed for his corruption but ordered to commit Seppuku.
    • Kitsune's whole life has been one long string of these, almost making her carefree attitude a case of Stepford Snarker. Aside from the death of Noodles, the worst blow was arguably the loss of her adoptive "sister" who taught her how to steal and survive on the street. One day she tried pickpocketing the wrong person, a samurai who had been present when they pulled an earlier scam, and Kitsune found her dead in the street.
    • The ending of Senso, even if it is non-canon. Usagi manages to destroy the last Martian tripod, but the surviving martian pilot mortally wounds him in a Last Breath Bullet moment, leaving him dying in the arms of Jotaro and Tomoe. Jotaro and Usagi finally acnowledge eachother as father and son, realizing that both of them had known all along. Usagi has enough time time left to pass his swords on to Jotaro, and tell Tomoe he loves her before dying from his wounds, leaving Jotaro and Tomoe sobbing over his body. It then cuts to the far future with Space Usagi telling a school of students about his ancestors deeds and the history of his ancestral swords.
    • One early story revolves around a woman making a traditional memorial figure for her dead child, who had been murdered by outlaws. According to Shinto belief, the souls of murdered children inhabit a bleak, restless afterlife, which the statues are supposed to alleviate by passing travelers offering token gifts. By pure chance, the outlaws attempt to ambush Usagi at the same road the statue has been placed, and he kills every last one of them. The final page has the mother noticing that the statue seems to have changed to a more relaxed facial expression, implying that the childs spirit is now at rest.
    • One story is a flashback to Katsuichi's youth, and reveals what happened to his lover, who had only been hinted at before. She was the daughter of the leader of a rival sword school, and the head student wanted her to marry him so he could inherit the school when the master died. When she refused, he killed her, and intended to kill Katsuichi and pin her death on him.
    • The conclusion to the "Red Scorpion" multiparter. The sensei of a sword school fallen on hard time kidnaps the son of the local magistrate while pretending to be the leader of the Red Scorpion gang in the hopes of extorting enough money to keep the school going. This fails completely as the real gang leader had been the magistrate himself the whole time and while the sensei and his students manage to defeat the real gang, he realizes his desperation drove him to complete dishonor, and ultimatly for nothing. He tells his students that he can only teach them one final thing, how a samurai dies, and asks Usagi to be his kaishaku (second) for the seppuku ritual. Usagi accepts, and the final panel shows his remaining students weeping over his body.
    • The death of the tea master from #150, who commits seppuku to spare his lord from dishonor because the sadistic Spaniard Rodriguez had demanded to witness a seppuku as the reward he was promised for defeating the lord's men in a duel, and he wanted the person who dies to be significant so demanded the life of the near-universally beloved tea master. The Tea Master complies with his lord's request without complaint, much to Usagi's sorrow and rage. The story in question was inspired by the real-life seppuku of the famous tea master Sen no Rikyu, who was ordered by Toyotomi Hideyoshi to commit seppuku in 1591 due to political differences and Rikyu's excessive independence.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: Sort of, but Defied, a little. It's an adventure series filled with funny animals, but then the funny animals start slicing each other up with swords - it probably features more on-panel beheadings than any other comic! However, it's important to Sakai that violence is never trivialized. Usagi (and other morally upright types like Sanshobo and Katsuichi) never kills wantonly, rarely strikes first, allows flight and accepts surrender. Only villains regard violence as a quick and convenient solution. It's kid-friendly to the extent that Sakai presents avoiding combat where possible as a morally superior choice.
    Katsuichi/Usagi: "The best souls are those which are kept in their scabbards."

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