Usagi Yojimbo is the kind of quality work that transcends time, genres, demographics, and even age groups. It crafts a delicate and beautiful balance between honor and savagery, cute innocence and dark brutality, simple heart-warming stories and multi-part epics that shape a dense continuity. Whether or not you've ever been a fan of feudal Japanese culture, furry anthro characters, or independent, non-superhero comics, Usagi Yojimbo is a comic that can't help but impress even the harshest critic.
"Seasons" (book 11) lays careful groundwork for so many things that follow this volume, all while delivering fantastic tale after fantastic tale. The stories contained within are:
"The Withered Field," which introduces Koji and his conflict with Usagi's mentor. It's a classic samurai story delivered in the way that only creator Stan Sakai could accomplish. The action and drama are both deliciously high, and the foreboding conclusion is fantastic.
"The Conspiracy of Eight," a great story on its own, but it's also an important set up for "Grasscutter," Usagi's most renowned storyline to date (which fills all of the next volume).
"Return to Adachi Plain" is a moving story in which Usagi relives the moment that ended his old life as a vassal/samurai. It also tells the story of the scar over his left eye.
"The Crossing" features Jei. For those of you who are familiar with the character, little more needs to be said about such a story.
"The Patience of the Spider" is a unique story in that it does not feature any of the regular Usagi Yojimbo cast, but it is a highly memorable and powerful story worth reading. It introduces General Ikeda, a major player in "Grasscutter".
"A Promise in the Snow" is a classic touching Usagi stand alone story that is guaranteed to move you.
"The Lord of Owls" introduces a mysterious figure who will become important later down the road.
"The First Tenet" introduces a major turn of events for the Neko Ninja Clan which will prove to be a defining conflict for Chizo down the road.
Finally, "The Obakeneko of the Geishu Clan" brings Usagi, Gen, and Tomoe together for a classic adventure.
All in all, this is an amazing collection of stories in their own right, but there's also a lot of important set up for "Grasscutter" and several other story lines to follow. That makes "Seasons" a must read.