Synopsis: The assassins have discovered that Usagi is a traitor, intent on thwarting their plan to kill the Shogun’s emissary. They imprison the entire village in the storehouse and are ready to burn it with a moment’s notice if he does not go through with the plan. Usagi is able to release his old friends Mariko and Kenichi, but they cannot return with help in time to prevent the assassination.
Part 3 delivers a multi-layered tasty cake of a story for readers. We have more with the soured friendship between Usagi and Kenichi as they are forced in their united mission to saving their village. Past remembrances show the truth of the bitter contest between the two samurai when even as children the competition was there. To grow and build over time with Usagi blind to Kenichi's envy and desire over him.
We have Yayoi and Mariko on their separate missions to warn the coming emissary of the Shogun and finding help to save the village. Both women showing inner strength, courage and determination in their struggles well beyond what might be expected. Extreme circumstances provide motivation to fight for what is right.
Yet all four of their struggles seem to end in failure as the assassins are ordered to burn down the village storehouse with all the villagers inside. Stan shows us in art and story all the facets of an emotional struggle in overwhelming odds here from fear, pain, despair, anger, frustration to determination, courage, strength and hope to persevere and overcome. Pay attention here to the facial art delivered by sensei Sakai. It is all in the eyes and mouths he shows us intimately emotional details that few artists are capable of.
Gimme a home on the ol' prairie where I can sit in my rockin' chair reading my favorite old comic books of yesteryear!