Lenni Reviews: “The Elusive Samurai” Vol. 5, by Yūsei Matsui

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

Governor Sadamune is determined to prove Tokiyuki is a survivor from the Hojo clan and interrogates the boy to find even the smallest slip up. As he tries to keep is identity a secret, Tokiyuki also has to help defend his allies on the battlefield.

This volume is heavy on the battle strategy and to be honest, I didn’t find it all that interesting. The battle scenes are well drawn; I can tell what’s going on and the way the art conveys emotions can be really creative as well as really creepy but this one isn’t as fun as the others. I bet it’s a step towards something bigger in the coming volumes. 2 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “The Witches of World War II” by Paul Cornell & Valeria Burzo

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

Inspired by a true story, this graphic novel follows Doreen Valentine who joins a group of other witches to use magic to kill Hitler’s second in command. Rudolf Hess.

Of course as a practicing witch myself I had to check this out. For a premise of witches fighting Nazis with magic, I couldn’t get into it. It felt somehow both over the top and underwhelming at the same time. The art style is perfect for a period piece, but this is a meh from me. I ended up flipping through it, struggling to find something to latch on to. 2 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “I Escaped a Chinese Internment Camp” by Zumrat Dawut, Anthony Del Col & Fahmida Azim

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

Zumrat Dawut was arrested and sent to a detention camp for being Muslim in 2018 where she was beaten, interrogated, starved, and forcibly sterilized as part of the Chinese government’s attempt to “reeducate” Uyghr Muslims.

This is super short but gets to the point of the horrible ordeal this poor woman went through but she did make it through to tell her story and that’s important. The art is evocative yet simple; honestly portraying Zumrat’s experiences. If you want something fast and informative, this is a great start but like most graphic novels that are biographies, this is a way to get started on a subject before you dive into further research. 4 out of 5 because it does seem too short.

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Lenni Reviews: “Tokyo Rose – Zero Hour: A Japanese American Woman’s Persecution and Ultimate Redemption after World War II” by Andre R. Frattino, Kate Kasenow & Janice Chiang

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

While visiting family in Tokyo, Iva Torgui ends up trapped there after the attack on Pearl Harbor. She is branded a Nisei – a Japanese person raised in America – and considered a possible traitor by the government. When she gets the chance to be on a propaganda show called “Zero Hour” she mixes her message, inspiring American troops instead of demoralizing them; only to end up on trial as a traitor to the US when the war is over.

Like a lot of historical graphic novels, this is a good primer for deeper research. I like the art; it’s perfect for a period piece, and the story is told pretty well but it would have been cooler to see exactly how the broadcasts undermined the propaganda. It just says it does in the text and I didn’t really get a real sense of how that was happening. Otherwise, Torgui’s story is an important one to tell. 3.9 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “The Elusive Samurai” Vol. 2, by Yūsei Matsui

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

Tokiyuki is hiding out in Suwa under Yorishige’s protection at a shrine. But when the shrine is hosting a dog shooting competition where one of Takauji’s vassals shows up to compete while searching for anyone from the Hojo clan that may be hiding at the shrine.

While I like the art style when people are fighting or talking, there are parts of this where the characters are super-deformed and I find them unintentionally terrifying. Other than that, this series is interesting. There’s some tonal whiplash between the silly parts where everyone is laughing and putting severed heads on display. We’ve got our colorful cast of characters with all these bombastic personalities that keeps it entertaining if not completely engrossing. 3 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “The Elusive Samurai” Vol. 1, by Yūsei Matsui

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

Hojo Tokiyuki is the last survivor of his family, the Kamakura shogunate, after they were betrayed and slaughtered. Along with other survivors or the massacre, Hojo goes on a journey to train and become strong enough to reclaim the throne.

Don’t let the cutesy art fool you. This is bloody and the art can make the characters look distorted and scary when it needs to. That being said, this is one hello of a start for a series. Hojo is young but strong and you get the sense of how strong he will become.

It feels a little rushed and the priest character is teetering closer to annoying than quirky. I wouldn’t complain if he was reigned it. A LOT.

This is focused more on action so we haven’t gotten attached to anyone more than initial interest so far but I do want to continue to the next volume. 3.9 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Did You Hear What Eddie Gein Done?” by Harold Schechter & Eric Powell

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This graphic novel starts from Ed Gein’s childhood and goes through his entire life and horrific crimes. The art style allows for realism and shows a bit of gore but remains as respectful as you can be talking about a guy who made skin suits and masks. This feels like watching a true crime documentary and I mean that in the best way. It not only goes through his life and crimes, but shows his impact on popular culture and the town he lived in. I think this is a must for graphic novel true crime lovers and I liked this book. 5 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Ten Days in a Mad-House” by Nellie Bly, Brad Ricca & Courtney Sieh

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This is a graphic novel adaptation of Nellie Bly’s famous work; in which she poses as a patient to investigate the conditions at Blackwell’s Asylum in 1887.

After reading this, I’d like to read the original book. I’d always been familiar with this story but haven’t gotten around to it yet.

Like most historical non-fiction graphic novels, this is a great way to introduce this story to a new audience or an audience who otherwise would never bee exposed to it. The art style is a great choice, rendering people and emotions so well with simple ink lines that in some parts it gave me chills. While not highly detailed, it is very effective at giving the gist of the story, why it’s important, and made me want to learn more. If you like historical graphic novels, I’d check this one out. 4.5 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Radium Girls” by Cy.

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

This graphic novel tells the story of The Radium Girls; a group of women who worked in one of many factories painting parts of glow in the dark watch faces. They used their tongues to keep the point of the brushes sharp and were assured they were safe only to be slowly poisoned over time.

I love the art style. I think it’s effective at allowing the reader to focus on the stories of these women and what they went through. It looks simple but it’s very effective. This provides a great primer to encourage people to learn about what is sadly a little-known part of history. This is very short but it tells enough of the story about this tragic group of women. I hope more people learn about stories like this. 3.8 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “The Waiting” by Keum Suk Gendry-Kim & Janet Hong

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

Keum Suk Gendry-Kim goes on a search for the experiences of Korean families who have been separated by the Korean War after hearing from her mom that her mother had lost her sister, hoping to collect their stories.

The art for this is perfect, giving great visuals to the feelings of loss without showing anything too graphic; giving it a wider audience. This is overall sad but at times straight up heartbreaking. This brings light to what happened to all these people so quickly and violently displaced and separated from loved ones. It’s good to tell these stories so more people know about it. 5 out of 5.

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