Comic review: Yojimbot by Sylvain Repos
Yojimbot - Book 1: Metal Silence
The first book in Sylvain Repos's Yojimbot series opens in a spectacular if somewhat unsurprising way. The imagery is at least familiar, the comic book opening with a silent and swift moving samurai standoff sequence straight out of a Kurosawa film or Kazuo Koike's Lone Wolf and Cub or closer perhaps in artwork style to Stan Sakai's Usagi Yojimbo. The clue to where this differs and yet plays out exactly as you might imagine is there in the title; the Yojimbo samurai warriors duelling here are robots.
There's an anachronistic surrealism to the setting that initially makes you also think of this taking place in some Moebius reality, not least with its clear line art, bold colouration and movement visual language. Yojimbot however is not going to leave you in some abstract surreal world where clearly advanced technology exists, so there must be some reason for two robots facing off and using archaic swords. An "Eastworld" theme park perhaps? If so, then this amusement park has some ultra-fast moving robots playing out some very dangerous routines.
As it transpires, the encounter does indeed take place in a theme park, but its guests aren't exactly visitors and the robots are actually far from advanced technology; they are in fact 20 years old and quite unreliable (uh-oh!). So when a young boy Hiro accidentally comes across a fragment of a sword shattered during the opening encounter, the response of the 'yojimbot' looking for it with limited compatible scenarios to analyse and protocols to follow can't entirely be predicted. Hiro's father Hideo knows it's safer not to wait around and find out, not least because it has alerted 'drones' patrolling who are even more lethal in their response.
To say anything more about the plot would be to give away some of revelations of where we are and what is going to happen when the drone unit catches up with Hideo and Hiro. Not that there is a great deal of plotting laid out or explained in this opening book of the series. In the 60 pages of Book 1: Metal Silence, Sylvain Repos opts for a scene-setting action-packed sword-slashing blood-letting chapter that has some attractive cartoony graphic art and designs to draw you in and hopefully bring you back looking for answers to unusual and intriguing situation laid out.
There are a few hints at where Yojimbot might go, and even though the setting is somewhat futuristic, there's a now familiar suggestion of the nation being in an enforced lockdown through some kind of disaster that may well be manufactured. What the underlying conspiracy is, who is behind it and what the consequences are for Hiro, Hideo and the yojimbot, you're going to need to need to pick up this and the next book to find out. But be sure to check the preview in the Europe Comics link below for an indication of the style and quality of action and drama contained therein.