Based on “Usagi Yojimbo” created by Stan Sakai, “Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles” has been animated almost four decades after the creation of the comics. It takes place in a modernist era combined with old Japanese architecture belonging to the Edo period to preserve its historical look, which is set around 2000 years after the time-period mentioned in the original comics. “Usagi Yojimbo” was mainly centered around Usagi Miyamoto, who is the ancestor of Usagi Yuichi. The series focuses mainly on Yuichi, who dreams of being a Samurai like his ancestor. The series premiered on Netflix on April 28th, 2022. In a world full of different cartoons, Sakai brings back the essence of nostalgic series like the “Kung Fu Panda” movies. Sakai was originally a scriptwriter for the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” and he has incorporated some of the characteristic traits of the turtles into this series.
Season 1: Plot Summary – What Is The Animated Series About?
After wreaking havoc in his auntie’s field, Usagi Yuichi confesses his desire to move into the city to be a Samurai just like his ancestor, Usagi Miyamoto. His auntie, understanding the situation and that her nephew is completely wasting his potential at a faraway farm, agrees to send him to the city. She hands him the sword that she and his great grandfather had built and asks him to find a sensei who would teach and guide him. Just like any overconfident teenager of his age, Yuichi sets out toward the city and forgets his promise to find a sensei. On reaching the city, he causes chaos and meets his new friends, who were originally chasing him, to reprimand him. Yuichi’s chaos follows him to the Temple of the Ki-Stone. This Ki-Stone helps generate electricity for the entire city of New Edo. Yuichi then accidentally sets off different Yokais, who belonged to tales because they were extinct, but it turns out, they were merely trapped inside the Ki-Stone. Kagehito, the main Yokai that they have to defeat, quickly escapes the premises to search for an instrument called Clavis. The Ki-Stone then gives Yuichi the power to choose a mystic weapon from the Shrine of Kaikishi. He impulsively chooses a yoyo. Yuichi then sets off with his newfound friends, Chizu, Gen, and Kibune, to capture the Yokais and bring them back to seal them back into the Ki-Stone. During his journey, however, he realizes that his ancestor has been hailed as a traitor all these years. Eventually, he does find his teacher, Karasu-Tengu, who is a Yokai too. She is a formidable martial arts practitioner who agrees to be Yuichi’s sensei only if he completes certain tasks. After he does so, impressed by his zeal, she teaches him to wield his sword and gets him ready to face Kagehito. He does bring the souls of a few of the troublesome Yokais back to be sealed, and each time he is offered a glimpse into the past to understand the actions of his ancestor. He captures them with the help of his Yo-yo and then uses it to transfer the soul energy back to the Ki-Stone.
Meanwhile, Kagehito gets hold of the Clavis and makes sure to attach it to the Ki-Stone, opening a portal for the interdimensional machine-like creatures to descend on earth and invade it. Yuichi stops it on time, but a few of the creatures remain. He and his friends defeated them together to re-establish peace in the New Edo city.
The art incorporated into the series was influenced by age-old Japanese architecture and modern Tokyo. The automatons were influenced by the Victorian Era. They wanted to capture the very essence of feudal Japan and mix it with modern amenities. They did not want any western influence in the art design due to the city’s belonging to the feudal era and not the post-independent era. The cityscape feels like a dream, with its concept sketched by none other than Khang Le, who is quite well-known for his art direction in Star Wars. The animation also includes 2D animation sequences directed to pay homage to the original series of “Usagi Yojimbo.” With a less threatening action-filled drama, this animation is recommended for children. Sakai incorporated animals to make the series less traumatic for the vulnerable minds of the children. It is tailored to suit and also teaches children the morals of the world. The series delivers small but impactful messages throughout its runtime where it teaches respect, politeness, discipline, and to always make rational decisions.
‘Samurai Rabbit’ Season 1: Ending Explained: Does Yuichi Clear Miyamoto’s Name?
During his first visit to the city, Yuichi realizes that his ancestor is being proclaimed as a traitor. He sets out with his friends to capture the Yakoi who had escaped during his chaotic introduction to the Ki-Stone. The Ki-Stone offered him flashbacks dating back to when Miyamoto was fighting with the Yokais and was entering the palace, which was situated where the temple now is. Through the flashbacks, Yuichi watches his ancestor drive a sword through the emperor. Instead of waiting for the flashbacks to finish, he jumped to conclusions and left the temple. On his way to his auntie’s house, he had made up his mind to leave the Samurai world. However, his aunt gave him the push he needed to regain his will. Karasu-Tengu then accepted Yuichi as her student and trained him to face Kagehito. Yuichi went back to the temple, and after winning his battles against the Neko Ninjas with the help of his friends, he witnessed Kagehito attaching Clavis to the Ki-Stone. He immediately set off to remove Clavis to shut down the portal created through it. While removing Clavis, the Ki-Stone broadcast the memory of Miyamoto sealing all the Yokais inside the Ki-Stone after sealing Kagehito, who was disguised as the emperor in everybody’s mind. This was witnessed by everyone, and that cleared Miyamoto’s name. Everybody started hailing Miyamoto as the true hero he was. Yuichi then returned the missing crystal piece that the Ki-Stone required, which was on the hilt of Yuichi’s sword. After re-attaching the crystal piece, the Ki-Stone forwent the electrical devices attached to it to power up the city and instead provided wireless power. It also successfully sealed off the portal along with the troublesome Yokais.
“Samurai Rabbit” Season 1 ended after clearing up the misunderstanding surrounding Usagi Miyamoto and also Kagehito. All this time, Kagehito was under the influence of Clavis, who had led him to act the way he did. He redeemed himself by saving Yuichi and his friends during their battle against the interdimensional automatons that had stayed behind even after the portal was sealed and closed. Kagehito eventually went back inside the Ki-Stone after being heavily injured while saving the rest. The series ends with a happy ending where Usagi saves the day and peace is re-established.
“Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles” Season 2 might be expected where the interdimensional machines may come back with their master as a huge threat. This could be possible because there are still remnants of the portal discarded in the shape of a butterfly in the sky. Usagi and his friends could be back with another new adventure to fight off the other goons who unexpectedly want to capture New Edo.