Hachimaru begins to experience life outside of his home for the first time. He realizes that food can “taste good,” as he enjoys takoyaki. He use to have many allergies and stomach issues, so all he had to eat was liquid food and apples. Hachimaru and Hayatarou heads for a walk. Hachimaru asks if he will finally get friends. It seems obvious that Samurai 8 like most anime/manga he will collect a number of friends along the way. At this point the world isn’t fleshed out yet, so I don’t feel much connection to it.
We are introduced to a new character, Nanashi. A recluses like Hachimaru use to be, she/he play games and lives at the Yasha-Style Dojo. Nanashi has two gaming gloves called “Left Hand-kun,” and “Right Hand-kun.” It was unclear to me if they spoke or Nanashi has a weird mental illness that results in the hands talking. It’s also unclear what Nanashi’s gender is, her/his hands debate Nanashi’s gender. One hand says that “he’s a boy,” the other says that “her soul is female.” Furthermore, Nanashi even refers to themselves as “a girl.” It seems likely that Nanashi will be a gender non conforming character, otherwise there’s no need to even bring up the question of gender. Right?
Anyway, Hachimaru falls through the roof of Nanashi. Nanashi has no idea about their pasts and has been a recluse for eight years. To get Nanashi to go outside, Hachimaru offers a wager. If he’s wins Nanashi goes outside, if he loses Nanashi can remain a shut in. Hachimaru defeats Nanashi in the game proving that Hachimaru is the highest ranked player. The significance of this game remains to be seen but it’s clear that the online game is important. Nanashi is the number 2 gamer so does the skill in the game correlate with fighting skills in the real world. We are loosely introduced to new pig-like villains, who plan on attacking Nanashi and Hachimaru.
It’s always exciting to get into a new series. Not knowing what to expect or even whether you like the series or not. Like most Naruto fans the expectation of Masashi Kishimoto next series was going to be high. Could he managed to live up to the hype? Probably not. Does he need to? I don’t think so. My first judgement of every manga series is the art. Akira Okubo didn’t disappoint. The chapter begins with a look of the galaxy, we see two characters having a conversation that at this point doesn’t make much sense yet.
Anyway, we see a battle between to samurai that ends with a clash. The concept of keys are introduced. The defeated samurai “transfers” the key. He turns into a sphere shaped thing and his spine seems to be the key. All this seems to be a game that our main protagonist, Hachimaru is playing. He’s a sickly kid that has “Trypanophobia – an extreme fear of medical procedures involving injections or hypodermic needles.” He yells at his father and it’s revealed that he must be connected to a machine otherwise he won’t “last 3 minutes.” His father is planning on creating a “Portable life support system” for him. His father leaves to find more parts.
Meanwhile, we are introduced to our main villain for this chapter at least. One of his henchmen owes him money for something. Ritual suicide is apparently the price he has to pay. The henchmen refuses to do this and is called a coward and is killed for it. Back at the house of Hachimaru, his dog brings him a daruma. Hachimaru prays to it, claiming that he wants to become a “samurai.” The daruma turns out to be a cat like being. At this point it’s made clear that theirs something that separates “warriors” and “samurai.” Our main villain makes this distinction clear.
Humans are warrior, when someone becomes a samurai they become something else. The samurai are cyborgs, chosen by warrior gods. Their spines become “memory units” called “keys.” All other body parts are robotic. The locker ball is a “small star created by the warrior god Acala.” The body of a samurai can even travel in space and stores a “very special soul.” Meanwhile, Daruma formally introduces himself, revealing himself to be a blind samurai. If past knowledge of manga series is any indication, a small blind non-human swordsman means he’s a badass.
We get to see some of his skills when the villain arrives. They clash briefly, revealing that Daruma is the “lone wolf samurai” that mastered the “vajrayaksa style.” Our villain destroys Hachimaru’s pet dog Hayatarou, stabs Daruma and uses the key to open Hachimaru’s chest. To receive the code Hachimaru must die. The villain allows him to commit ritual suicide, with the promise to “let his father go.” Hachimaru admits his love for his father, then commits suicide. He “dies,” and the villain removes the samurai soul of Takatsuna giving him the crimson blade called “the vampire.”
Unsurprisingly, Hachimaru isn’t dead and he is transformed into a samurai. Daruma tells him that he has been given the power of “sanrinshin.” Hachimaru battles the enemy samurai who puts on his samurai armor on. He defeats the samurai and rescues his father. I liked this series. The combination of sci fi and samurai lore is interesting. I love the designs of the samurai armor and the world. It’s only one chapter and if Bleach taught me anything it not just how you start but how you end. Regardless, while many aspects of the story isn’t fleshed out yet I’m excited for what this series will bring.
A preview chapter for the new series, Samurai 8: The Tale of Hachimaru (Samurai 8: Hachimaruden) will be released on Saturday, April 27th. Samurai 8 was written by manga Masashi Kishimoto, creator of Naruto. Akira Okubo a former assistant of Kishimoto will be illustrating this series.
The details on what this series is about was scarce. Kishimoto has stated that Samurai 8 is “a combination of his love for Japanese culture and science-fiction genre.” He believes that “the new manga series is more interesting than Naruto as it will also feature samurai using futuristic weapons.” The first chapter will be released in Shueisha’s Weekly Shōnen Jump on May 13th. It has been reported that it will be 72 pages long.
Since Naruto ended in 2014 after 15 years, Kishimoto worked on the script and character designs for the spin off movie Boruto. Mikie Ikemoto and Ukyo Kodachi launched the Boruto manga series, which is supervised by Kishimoto. I’m hoping that Samurai 8 will do for samurai what Naruto does for ninja.