Usagi Yojimbo may not quite be a household name over here, but the sabre-swinging series featuring the rabbit ronin (or ‘samurai bodyguard’) is hugely popular worldwide; considered key in the world of comics, and an important link between the manga comics of Japan and the superhero comics of the U.S. The series’ creator, Stan Sakai, first started drawing Usagi in the early eighties. Roaming an anthropomorphic version of feudal Japan, the rabbit samurai has no master, but takes on tasks from any aggrieved animals he encounters – always ensuring he sticks to the noble way of the samurai.
Sakai originally intended to use Usagi as a support character in another series, but he grew so fond of the warrior bunny that he began to draw him exclulsively; Usagi’s first appearance came in the anthology Albedo Anthropomorphics in 1984, before he was given his own series in 1987.
Since then, Usagi has not looked back, receiving four Eisner awards and being voted among IGN’s Top 100 Comic Book Heroes. He has appeared on film with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (who returned the favour by appearing in his comics), and was the subject of a 2011 Los Angeles exhibition in Little Tokyo named ‘Year of the Rabbit’. Most recently he has been the star of his own android game, and his popularity shows no sign of dwindling as he reaches his 30th birthday this year.
To celebrate this landmark anniversary, Usagi will be hopping on to the London stage this Christmas in an audacious new production at the Southwark Playhouse. It’s the perfect production for kids of all ages with plenty of action and a strong anti-bullying message that will leave parents happy too! Turnaround stocks the entire Usagi range, so you shouldn’t need a carrot or a stick to be tempted to dip into this seminal series.