The Elusive Samurai is the newest series by Yusei Matsui, creator of Assassination Classroom. Instead of a science fiction series set at a school, The Elusive Samurai is a piece of historical fiction about a real life samurai named Hojo Tokiyuki and set in the year 1333.
The manga begins by introducing the heroes of the Hojo clan, as well as the current puppet leader of the shogunate, Hojo Takatoki. Tokiyuki would be next in line for the shogunate and to lead the clan; however, right now he’s a young child of nearly 10.
A Shinto Priest named Suwa Yorishige arrives and foretells that Tokiyuki will one day be a hero, and also tells tells him that he will be a survivor. Then the action shifts to the Siege of Kamakura. This attack by imperial forces on the leaders of the shogunate was a bloody conflict that led to numerous deaths, including the suicide of Tokiyuki’s father.
Tokiyuki escapes with the help of Yorishige, and the chapter ends with that escape in mind. The next one will follow the duo post-escape.
The series art is excellent, cartoonish but also period-accurate. The use of angles, different perspectives, and shading throughout adds to the emotions evoked on the page. The massacre scenes depict violence and gore, but not an overwhelming amount of the latter, as seen in some manga series.
Historically, Hojo Tokiyuki is an interesting figure who fought both with the shogunate against the Emperor and later served the Emperor and against the shogunate. As the rightful heir to the shogunate, this story is starting at this point in Tokiyuki’s life where he is about to escape and rebuild. He was an elusive warrior historically and it definitely makes for a potentially interesting manga character.
This is also a period of history in a portion of the world that I don’t really know a lot about. So, historical fiction is definitely something I’m interested in reading. The art is well done. The characters definitely got me interested. And the initial setup is well done. Let’s see where this story goes next week and how close to the real world it remains.
The Elusive Samurai can be read at Shonen Jump. The most recent chapters are always free.