Afro Samurai meets The Sword of Kaigen in this anime-inspired novella
This is no revenge story. I ain’t got time for that. I’ve got errands to run and things to do and barely enough time to make it home before sundown. I don’t care why folks are going around stealing ink. I don’t care why the monks are acting kinda strange. I don’t care that everybody is expecting me to save them. I might be a Sistah Samurai but those days playing hero were back when my knees didn’t ache, and I wasn’t the only one left. So leave me alone.
All I want to do is get home, drink some green tea lemonade, and enjoy my peace. I’m not asking for much, so why are all these demons daring to get in my way?
I am not the one. Not today.
Sistah Samurai is an Action Fantasy novella that is an homage to the anime, Afro Samurai. Both works feature a feudal Japan-inspired setting that is rife with anachronisms. In the words of Samuel L. Jackson, “Is that a motherf—ing RPG?”
“One of these days, I would have to slow down and soak in all these near-death experiences and process the exhaustion that seemed to root itself deeper into my bones. But that day wasn’t today.”
First of all, what a stunning cover – Take a bow Felix Ortiz and Virginia McClain. And secondly, this book has a Pokémon, one that I’m sure is a lot of people’s favorite. And thirdly, the book has something that I don’t think any other book has, a commercial break. I loved it.
All of my favorite books this year almost exclusively have been one with an older protagonist and this one is no exception. I immediately connected with the MC and adored how witty and real she was. This is actually a novella of less than 150 pages and the plot occurs within just one day, but within that how much the main character is fleshed out is absolutely extraordinary. I hadn’t ever thought that one character’s soul could be laid bare so well, especially in an action-packed novella.
The MC’s day starts bright but then in proper anime-esque fashion runs into newer and newer problems as soon as one ends. It reminded me of the earlier Jackie Chan movies where the hero is just going about their day or is trying to get a meal but then a group of minion gang members decides to cause a ruckus in the same store.
The world that has been created is also fascinating. There is a unique ink-based magic system and because of previous wars, ink has also become the system of currency in the world. There are also different varieties of demons to face and to avoid spoilers – ‘other fantastical elements’ in the world.
The writing is extremely vivid. From the beginning of the book, I was able to clearly visualize the world and the characters and the fight scenes. It was almost like reading a graphic novel in fact. And like a comic book, almost every/ every other page had action scenes or LOL moments.
It is not just all action, magic, creatively named weapons, witty punch dialogues, dancing to tunes in the middle of battles though; there is a deep, poignant and evocative journey that the MC goes through. And as arduous as her external conflict is, she is facing just as much or an even harder internal conflict as well. The balance between these and also between the action moments and melancholic moments is struck to perfection, leaving a very satiating reading experience.
I don’t think there has been a novella that has told a richer, or more complete story. I sincerely hope Obey revisits this world with many, many more and/or longer installments. I’m definitely going to pick up the author’s other series – A Forging of Age.