Mysteries is volume 32 of Stan Sakai’s samurai epic, Usagi Yojimbo. It’s another volume that benefits from having read Usagi’s previous adventures but also stands reasonably well on its own and would not be a bad point to jump in.
For those who are new to Usagi, a comment from my review of Vol. 1 on Sakai’s choice of medium that has remained relevant throughout the comic’s long run:
“The use of amorphous animals as the characters might seem unusual to first time readers, but it gives Sakai more visual diversity and symbolism to play with, and is executed with such finesse that it quickly becomes impossible to imagine the book without this choice. Don’t mistake the presence of animals as people as a sign this is a ‘kid’s book.’ Usagi Yojimbo covers a period of war, political unrest, and an unhealthy level of danger and can get dark and bloody at times.”
Detective Ishida is as much a main character as Usagi now, and I continue to enjoy the time the series is spending focusing on the two of them together solving mysteries. Things have a little bit of a different feel now that Usagi has been in one place for a while, but it still stays true to the heart of the series.
This volume starts with two single chapter stories, followed by two and three part stories respectively, then finishes with a couple short “Chibi Usagi” installments.
There are elements in the main stories that connect a bit, giving a nice sense of progression throughout the volume. The stories are interesting and the mystery elements well done as usual.
The inclusion of recurring characters Kitsune and Nezumi (in separate stories) is starting to present a characterization problem with Usagi. The lengths to which he trusts the thief who routinely takes advantage of him and distrusts the other (who has helped investigations and acts in a Robin Hood mold) are becoming exaggerated and risk making Usagi seem oblivious and borderline unsympathetic at times.
Outside of that though, this is another strong volume of intrigue and action. The Chibi Usagi shorts are light and amusingly silly.