Hachimaru’s world suddenly gets bigger in the next installment of Kishimoto’s Samurai 8. Before we get to the story, however, I want to make a quick nod to the cover of Volume 3. The design that caught my eye is the uniform blue liquid/mass that some of the featured characters of this volume are sitting on. Maybe it’s just me, but the way this fluid-like mass rises and crests at the top reminds me of The Great Wave off Kanagawa by famous Japanese artist Hokusai.
Reading Samurai 8 Vol. 3 before knowing what happened in the story so far will definitely be confusing. Regardless, there are contextual clues and minor flashbacks to catch you up to speed throughout this series of chapters. We are thrown right into an imminent threat to Hachimaru’s home planet; A villain named Ata has sent pieces of an orbiting moon to fall and destroy the civilized world. In order to save his planet, he must use the full extent of his Samurai power. That very source of power ends up being a huge focus in Samurai 8 Vol. 3. Seeing as how his journey is just beginning, giving a full display of his current capabilities is a nice tease to what may be yet to come.
The story determines that Hachimaru’s next step is to search for companions who will open Pandora’s Box with him as fellow “keys.” We also get an explanation of how a Samurai’s Soul and Samurai Key work splitting and binding molecules, respectively. Essentially, this makes it so that the cyborg samurai of this world are able to do fantastical things like having armor cover you all of a sudden or fusing with your key holder companion. We’ve even seen regeneration in many forms as an innate ability.
Now that we have moved beyond the home planet, it is nice to get a feel for how expansive the world is. Seeing a space station that hosts multiple vessels in the void reminds me of some good old Star Wars locations. You could also get some Cowboy Bebop vibes. Samurai 8 Vol. 3 also introduces two new characters who hitch a ride on Master Daruma’s turtle key holder. We have seen evil samurai and good samurai, but this new one, Ryu is a little hard to read. Besides the new characters, we also get to spend some time learning a bit more about Ann and Hachimaru’s relationship. Seeing them interact with a new world is a nice contrast to the shenanigans that ensue soon after. The chapter that is a good example of this is aptly named “Chapter 18: Always Shop Responsibly.”
There are intruders detected inside Master Daruma’s key holder and rushes back to investigate… without paying for his drink. A battle commences between the two as soon as they announce they are there to steal everything they have. We get some great comic relief not only from this new pair (Ryu and Katsuga) but also from Daruma and Hachimaru. This part is very well written, and simply recapping it does it no justice, so I hope you take the time to consider picking up this volume and having a laugh for yourself!
The rest of the volume concentrates on the information obtained from these thieves and landing on a scarred planet currently hosting a samurai battle royal. The battle royal winner gets to fight the “festival sponsor,” and from that victory, win 1 Billion Yen (approx. 9.5 million USD). This is where the story gives itself some room to breath and establishes new goals and challenges for our protagonists.
This interplanetary epic has been wonderful to read. It is truly an ambitious story with an entire universe to spread its wings in. We, as readers, are dwarfed in comparison to the scale of Kishimoto’s new world. Ambition, unfortunately, comes at a cost, and the stakes are always high. With only 2 more volumes of the series, I am filled with mixed emotions about the series end, but I can say objectively that there is true power in this story. For what may come in the future, the possibilities are only as limited as the sky’s stars.
Samurai 8 Vol. 3: Review
Samurai 8: Volume 3
The search for the other "Keys" has begun! Hachimaru unlocks hidden potential in his quest to become a great Samurai.