At a Glance:Samurai epics are coming back into style and all I can say is “hooray”! These far-eastern cowboy dramas are only interesting because they replace six-shooters with katanas, cows with horses, and cowboy hats with ninjas. Nearly every one of these formulaic samurai epics involves a rivalry between two master swordsmen, both of dubious morals, and a final showdown that results in both of their lives being lost. Throw in the omnipresent “wizened old sensei”, a pathetic female pseudo-love interest, and hordes of either bandits or ninjas that inexplicably attack both protagonist and antagonist. This heady brew of equal parts insanity and predictability is your stock samurai epic, and I hope that thanks to this abridged version of the genre you will never be tempted to read one again. Please ignore any historical inaccuracies!
Literary Hack Sub-Genre: Samurai Epic By Numbers
Chapter One - Dawn of the Sun RisingThe greatest samurai in all of Japan who wants to become the greatest samurai in all of Asia.Dari-san stood in perfect crane posture, his razor-sharp katana gleaming in the orange sun as it began to rise over the hills of Chungshang. He had been practicing for five days straight and had spent the last three immobile in the crane posture as Shaolin monks hurled rotten fruit at him. He was swollen from bee stings and his muscles had built up so much lactic acid that they had begun to dissolve through his skin in places, yet he remained as the rock, unmoving in the face of passing time.
In the periphery of his vision he could see his ancient master Mao Dung hobbling with the aid of his cane from the pagoda to the North. To most his approach would seem agonizingly slow, but for Dari Armstro the master samurai it was a pleasant and calming approach, like light seen forming patterns when filtered through the leaves of trees or some other obtuse nature metaphor.
"Good this is Dari-san," croaked his master at last as he began tapping Dari's blood-stained pant legs with his cane. "Ready you are for your journey."
Armstro collapsed into a sitting heap, yet still he looked down at his tiny master, shriveled with age to barely more than three feet in height.
"I am ready to turn into soup in the hot springs," groaned Ari. "I am ready to be fed sushi and fanned by a throng of geishas."
Mao Dung chuckled amicably.
"Time you will have to rest when completed is your journey!"
"What is this journey Sensei?" Asked Dari. "You have mentioned it so many times but you have never told me what it entails."
"Strong you are Dari-san," explained Master Dung. "Strongest swordsman in all of Japan you are. But to defeat China's strongest swordsman you are not ready for. Journey you must to the shrine of your ancestors. Find you will there the ancient sword of the Armstro clan. Learn you will the power of your ancestors. Ready you will be then."
Armstro stood, his strength regained, his sideburns fluttering handsomely in the ocean breeze. He returned his katana to its sheath and tucked it beneath his flowing blue and green robe.
"Danger you will also find, crimson ninjas in the forest are!" Warned Master Dung.
Legend spoke of the crimson ninjas and being Japanese and a samurai Armstro was all too aware of what legend spoke of. They were a vicious clan of ninjas ruled over by the ancient demon samurai Shao Tsung. They slaughtered travelers, burned down villages, and generally terrorized the entire island of Japanohama. Despite their fearsome reputation, Armstro was not afraid, he was never afraid.
"I go now master!" And he went, trotting along a road toward the Isuzuki forest where the crimson ninjas waited for him.
Can you tell which is which?
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