REVIEW: 'Hitomi' #1 by H.S. Tak, Isabella Mazzanti, and Valentina Napolitano



Writer: H.S. Tak
Artist: Isabella Mazzanti, 
Valentina Napolitano
Letters: Rob Jones
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: October 12, 2022
Cover Price: $3.99

In Feudal Era Japan, a drifter with no prospects begins training in secret under Yasuke, a once-famous, displaced, disgraced warrior, as she struggles to find her place in a society entrenched in discrimination and violence.

Combining the historical sweep and elegance of Kurosawa with the visceral action of Tarantino, this saga follows the trials and tribulations of a young female warrior who travels the countryside unendingly as she works to gain the rank of Samurai-a title no man, monster, or myth can give to her, but one that she will have to take for herself.

★★★★1/2 (4.5/5)

What begins as a simple revenge story set in Feudal Japan, evolves into something more as writer H.S. Tak along with artists Isabella Mazzanti and Valentina Napolitano blend beautiful Japanese influences with Western sensibilities into an engrossing new series, 'Hitomi.' 

Looking to avenge the murder of her family at the hands of a mysterious samurai, a young girl begins her journey to vengeance by tracking down the killer. She seeks guidance and finds her way to a monk for assistance. Intercut with her search is the storyline of the samurai who she seeks. That samurai is a fictionalized version of Yasuke, a man of African origin who served as a retainer and weapon-bearer to the Japanese daimyƍ Oda Nobunaga. Older now and working towards returning home one day, Yasuke is portrayed more grounded, as a man and not a myth. The romanticism of the samurai is also deconstructed in a more practical and ruthless way. Tak has created layers here to the characters and the time in which it takes place. Everything is not easily dismissed as black and white. There are plenty of nuances here to depict a more complicated time with complex characterizations. 

Mazzanti and Napolitano create a beautiful landscape inspired by the painted scroll style of ancient Japanese emakimono. There's an attention to detail from architecture to costuming that attempts to respectfully portray the time period. The framing and pacing of scenes have serene energy to them that allows the story to unfold without a lot of action giving the dialogue added importance. It has a unique look that transports the reader to a whole new time and place.  

'Hitomi' is Tak's best work thus far with this thoughtful and entertaining take on a revenge story. A period piece that captures the tone and style not common in Western comics and we are all better for it. Be prepared to be swept away by this charming and beautifully produced series that subverts the typical tale of vengeance.