riddler13: (Kitsune and Kyoko)
[personal profile] riddler13 posting in [community profile] scans_daily
In my posts about Usagi Yojimbo characters, I've profiled Usagi himself, Tomoe, Jotaro and Gen. I'm now tackling a big fan favourite: the fox thief Kitsuné.

Kitsuné is, as her namesake in Japanese tradition, a trickster fox, inasmuch as she steals and cons to make ends meet. She has a naturally bubbly, friendly disposition, but don't let that fool you - she might consider you her best friend and yet cheat you blind. She is always putting herself first, except when it comes to her protegé Kiyoko, who is becoming quite an adept con artist and pickpocket herself.

Kitsuné's origin story was told in UY's #52, and it is a somewhat sadder story than most of her tales (barring "Noodles", which is a veritable punch in the gut). It is also the story that introduces Kiyoko to the ever-growing UY character roster.

Kitsuné and Gen are travelling alone after the events of "The Shrouded Moon" (UY #50-51). A little girl steals Gen's money purse but he catches her.

Gen and Kitsuné arrive at the nearest town and settle down at an inn. During their meal, Gen notices that faraway look in Kitsuné's eyes and can't help but ask if Kiyoko unsettled her. She said that Kiyoko reminded her of herself in her early stealing days, and tells her story.

Her father was a successful fabric broker, but the true brains of the business was her mother. After she died, Kitsune's stepmother proved herself incompetent and also disliked the little fox from the start. So, she put two and two together and put in motion a terrible plan to make ends meet.

She ran as fast as she could and eventually arrived in Edo, feudal Japan's capital. She tried her hand at stealing but was almost caught during her first crime. Eventually, a street perfomer named Sachiko hid her.

(If this last frame doesn't make you ship them then nothing else will. Remember: it's only subtext when it's subtle).

Page limits do not allow me to post a funny scene in which Sachiko tries to stab Kitsune's hand to test her reflexes. She is actually the one who christened her as the Japanese trickster fox, by the way - her true name is not revealed during the series.

One day, they steal a merchant's purse and everything goes smoothly.

However, Sachiko makes a mistake that Kitsuné eventually teaches Kyoko: you shouldn't try the same trick twice in a row. And it has serious consequences for her.

After burying her best friend, Kitsuné continues on her way, and performs in various cities, supplementing her income by... er... redistributing part the city's wealth to herself.

Let's finish this with the page that launched a thousand ships.

This story was collected in Book 16: The Shrouded Moon and Usagi Yojimbo Saga vol. 3.

Kitsuné's popularity is enduring, and Stan is using her a lot in his recent stories. She was featured recently in the hilarious "The Thief and the Kunoichi" (#145-147) and is in the most recent issue, a two-parter called "A Body in the Library" (#161, already released, and 162).

Next up: Jei-san, the Blade of the Gods!
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