The Elusive Samurai Volume Three marks an important character development moment for Tokiyuki.

The Elusive Samurai Volume Three
Written by: Yusei Matsui
Publisher: Shueisha Inc.
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: November 1, 2022

At the end of Volume Two, Tokiyuki and his retainers were sent to an isolated village on the northern edge of Suwa province to try to get information about enemies that are closing in. When they reach the village, they encounter a young man wielding two blades, and a fight ensues. However, the fight with the mysterious stranger comes to an abrupt halt when he sees Shizuku, because the two of them know each other. We learn that the stranger’s name is Fubuki, and that he’s looking for a lord to serve.

Fubuki quickly turns into a reliable ally, and he has quite the head for strategy. When a group of rogues sent by Sadamune head toward the village, Fubuki comes up with the plan to take them down. This includes encouraging Tokiyuki to use his kindness as a weapon with a new technique to wield his sword.

It’s ultimately up to Tokiyuki to use the new technique he has learned from Fubuki to take down the leader of the rogues. To me, this served as a very important character development moment for Tokiyuki. Since Tokiyuki is known for using his elusiveness to get away from a fight, it took a lot for him to use his elusiveness during an actual fight instead. Obviously, this was one small step for Tokiyuki, but it’s a start for a child who wants to eventually reclaim his right as the heir to the Kamakura shogunate. One thing I do appreciate about his fight is that during it, we get to see a flashback of the rogues’ leader to see what led him to become a rogue. Sure, this is a trope we’ve seen over and over again in shonen titles over the years, but I still appreciate getting some backstory to help understand the villain and his or her motivations before they’re defeated by the protagonist.

After Kazama and Suwa arrive with reinforcements to finish routing out the remaining rogues and Sadamune’s forces, Fubuki learns the truth about Tokiyuki… and pledges to serve him. With this, Tokiyuki has now gained another member for his growing group of retainers.

This volume also sees Suwa admitting to Tokiyuki that his spiritual powers aren’t as strong as they once were, so it’s affecting his ability to see the future. Suwa sends Tokiyuki out on a couple of nonsensical errands, which cause his retainers to think Tokiyuki is doing something else that would be seen as being lowly for a lord. The final task Suwa sends him on, though, allows Tokiyuki to learn something important from Shizuku. While some important information is imparted during this story, it’s overall done in a more comedic manner. After having such a heavy and action-packed storyline with the rogues right before this, it makes sense to include a story that’s more light-hearted in nature in order to bring the tension down a few notches.

There’s also a brief bit showing interactions between Ashikaga Takauji, who was responsible for overthrowing the Kamakura shogunate, and his brother, Ashikaga Tadayoshi. The two brothers are as different as night and day, but Tadayoshi fiercely defends his brother’s position and takes care to make sure nothing embarrassing about him gets out to the public. Even though we’ve seen Takauji overthrow the Kamakura shogunate and how the people revere him, the reader really wasn’t shown what kind of person he truly was outside of the spotlight. I thought that including that here was a nice touch.

Right after the story ends, the manga includes eight pages that analyze and explain the events, characters, and concepts that appeared in this volume of the series. Just like with the previous two volumes, I appreciated getting the information that was included in these pages because it helped me to better understand what I had just read.

I thought that The Elusive Samurai Volume Three was a strong follow-up to the previous volume of the series. We start to see some real character progression for Tokiyuki, as well as learning more about the world and the characters who inhabit it. I hope I get a chance to read Volume Four in order to find out how Tokiyuki’s quest to regain his rightful place as the heir to the Kamakura shogunate continues.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

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