The Virtue of Justice in Usagi Yojimbo: The Hidden 2

By Michael DeLaney

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

In a world of glorified anti-heroes we often forget the merits of the old fashioned, tradtional hero. Usagi Yojimbo: The Hidden 2 leans on the classic archetype of the law-abiding do-gooder in Inspector Ishida, who is in charge of the murder case that Usagi Yojimbo is working on.

Throughout the issue, Stan Sakai showcases Ishida as the virtuous lawman who will do whatever is necessary within the law to make sure that justice is served. This includes withholding information from his Chief Inspector.

Ishida is familiar with Chief Inspector Ito’s prejudices against both Christians and Ronin, so he works around them to keep his investigation unbiased. Just because he is the symbol of justice doesn’t mean that he is a “boy scout,” however. After he and Usagi save a city guard’s life, Ishida threatens him.

It’s kind of in line with that Batman Begins-ian philosophy of “I won’t kill you, but I don’t have to save you.” It’s entirely possible that more assassins will come to kill this guard, and if Ishida doesn’t believe what he’s told then he won’t put in a lot of effort to stop that attack. This is probably just a “bad cop” tactic however, as I don’t see Ishida willingly let an innocent get killed.

Let’s focus on the assassin’s attack itself. I mentioned last issue how my only exposure to Usagi Yojimbo is through the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, so I still see the character through that lens. One way that Usagi and Ishida stand out from many incarnations of the turtles is that they use their weapons.

Usagi Yojimbo: The Hidden 2 is a murder mystery book but it is pretty light on the violence itself. We know that the blades are penetrating bodies and ending lives, but there are no gratuitous blood spurts or gaping wounds. In a way, Sakai’s action sequences are an example of artful self-censorship.

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