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Broken Ritual

Gaki <-- --> The Tangled Skein

General Info

First Published: April 1992 by Fantagraphics Books

Comics Which Contain This Story

USAGI YOJIMBO Volume 1, Number 33

USAGI YOJIMBO Book Seven: Gen's Story
(Pages 41-62)

The SoftCover contains four black&white panets on pages 188-191 which show Usagi with a spear, wandering and laughing at the wind, after killing an attacker and as young cub.

Characters in This Story
Story Notes

Sergio's Story "Broken Ritual"

Several months ago, Sergio Aragonés showed up on my doorstep at 2:30 in the morning to pick up a batch of Groo pages I'd finished lettering. That in itself is not unusual (and yes, Sergio did call first); what is unusual is that during the two-and-a-half hour drive from his house to mine, Sergio had written a story for Usagi Yojimbo, which he proceeded to write out on my living room table. (On that same trip he also came up with the plot for Terminator 3, but that's another story.) Sergio actually thinks up lots of stories that for one reason or another can't be fitted into the Groo comic and therefore never see print, but he liked this one so much and thought it was so appropriate for Usagi that he offered it to me. Of course, I was delighted to accept. I ended up reworking the story pretty heavily, but the basic plot as Sergio told it to me that night remains the same.

[Read the rest of the notes in the letters for USAGI YOJIMBO Volume 1, Number 33.]



Our story begins with a wounded samurai in the act of committing seppuku. Nearby, Usagi hears an anguished scream, and spies the town from whence the sound came.

His hunger preenting him from bypassing the place, he enters to find the large town deserted. Stopping at a house, the light from within is doused as he knocks at the door. Moving onward to the inn, he opens the door to find several terrified townspeople breathing sighs of relief.

They are startled again however, when Usagi asks about the scream that he heard earlier. One of the men, a book store owner, offers to tell him the story in the morning.

The next morning, over tea, the man tells Usagi of General Tadaoka, a general with whom Usagi himself served with in the battle of Adachigahara. The man needs not retell the defeat of Lord Mifune, suffice it to say that General Tadaoka was pursued to this town with a young leiutenant. The two of them, pursued by the enemy, tried to rally the townspeople, who fled to their homes.

At that moment, a rider sped through the town, announcing the death of Lord Mifune. At this news, the General began to remove his armour and prepare for ritual seppuku. With his leiutenant acting as his second, Tadaoka made the first and then the second cut, bowing his head for the completion.

At that moment, the footsoldiers of Hikiji found them, killing the leiutenant and mocking the general. Finally one of them sidled forward, intending on finishing him off. The general let out one final great scream before the sword removed his head from his body.

To this day, the blood from his body stains the site of his death and nothing the townspeople do can erase it. They believe the town cursed, as on nights of the full moon, the General's ghost reappears to re-enact his death.

Usagi decides to investigate the matter, and as night falls he calls for a bucket of water. Taking this to the site of the blood, he does not try to remove it, rather, he performs the purification ritual on his katana.

As the mood rises, the blood steams, then disappears completely and accompanied by a short but blinding gust of wind, the spirit of the general arrives. Usagi announces his heritage to the dead general and is deemed worthy to act as a second. The first cut and then the second is made before Usagi's blade delivers the closing blow.

The general disappears, as does the blood stain. His spirit had been anguished by his death at the hands of a mere footsoldier. Usagi's assistance allowed him his peace.

Gaki <-- --> The Tangled Skein

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Usagi Yojimbo, including all prominent characters featured in the stories and the distinctive likenesses thereof are trademarks of Stan Sakai and Usagi Studios. Usagi Yojimbo is a registered trademark of Stan Sakai. Names, characters, places, and incidents featured in this publication either are the product of the authors imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons (living or dead), events, institutions, or locales, without satiric content, is coincidental.