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UY is a series who, despite using anthropomorphic animals, is pretty much rooted in historical feudal Japan, with events that took place in real life serving as most of the inspiration. However, Japan is also a country with a rich mythology, and Usagi couldn't shy away from exploring those more fantastic tales.

At first, the bunny ronin himself would face supernatural threats, but they didn't quite fit the tone of his series. When Stan introduced Sasuké the Demon Queller in Usagi Yojimbo (v.3) #37: "Kumo", things got different. Now he had a character better suited to fight supernatural beings and add that element organically into the Usagiverse.

There has never been a conclusive origin story as to how Sasuké came to be, but the best explanation we've got so far is in the beautifully-illustrated 25th-anniversary special edition "Yokai". It is a canon one-off in which monsters of folklore (yokai) come to haunt the Earth in a sort of mega-Halloween. It's over 60 pages long but I'll stick to the usual 8 scans to focus more on Sasuké himself.



Usagi is walking through a beautiful dark night when a light attracts him to a forest. It is the foxfire of a trickster fox, a Kitsuné. Once inside the forest, he hears someone sobbing and goes to her aid.



And off goes Usagi to rescue Hanako! He finds several yokai along his way and is eventually attacked by a "Nue", which proves itself too much for him to handle with just his swords. That's when the cavalry arrives.




The yokai need a living soul to lead them in this world, and Usagi deduces that they captured Hinako to that end. We then get pages and pages of fights against several Japanese legendary monsters, some intimidating, others simply weird. Sasuké tells Usagi they are summoning the Witch Queen, harbinger of the end of the world.



A beautiful two-page spread ensues.



Ah, my favourite Sasuké gag. "You're joking, right?"/"I do not joke", then later "You're joking, right?"/"Stop saying that!". Another one is "hello (a character who Sasuké never met before)"/"How do you know my name?"/"You must have told me earlier".

They win, but it drains much of Sasuké's life force.





If I had to bet on a spinoff series from Usagi Yojimbo I think it'd be either Sasuké or, according to polls taken by the author himself, the most popular supporting character and my next and last profile: Inspector Ishida.
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