Usagi Yojimbo Play Premieres in United States
Who doesn’t love Usagi Yojimbo? He is one of the most interesting characters to ever appear in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise. Despite the fact that he is often forgotten or neglected, Usagi has lived on in his own set of graphic novels with a rich and engrossing story that is every bit as entertaining as the tale of our beloved heroes in a half shell. Recently, we called for him to finally make an appearance in the Nickelodeon series. Although that hasn’t happened yet, I doubt anyone could have predicted that the next time we’d see this samurai rabbit in the news, it would be a story about a play based on the graphic novel series finally making its way to the states.
After opening last year at London’s Southwark Playhouse, the play didn’t really receive a lot of attention. Perhaps it’s fitting that the next performance should be in Portland, Oregon – the home of Dark Horse comics, the publisher of the Usagi Yojimbo comic book franchise. Actually, that’s probably by design, as creator and author Stan Sakai will be making an appearance at the first show to sign books and answer questions for fans.
The play will have a six day run at the Performing Arts Center at Portland Community College. Clocking in at 90 minutes, the play tells the story of Miyamoto Usagi, the young rabbit that we all know and love. For those who aren’t aware, Usagi Yojimbo (his actual name is Miyamoto) is an anthropomorphic samurai rabbit from an alternate version of 16th century Japan. What began as a sly reference to the story of Miyamoto Musashi eventually became the comic book character you see today.
Being that he represented both a walking, talking animal and a character from another universe, Usagi was a perfect fit in the world of the TMNT. When he appeared in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics and cartoons, creators of both franchises were essentially helping each other out by introducing their work to entirely new readers and viewers. Although I’m sure we’d all love to see him make another appearance in the Ninja Turtles universe, at this point rights management might be to blame for the lack of his presence.
Whatever the case may be, it’s nice to see that a group of people have crafted a live performance of this story. Fans living in the Portland area should definitely come out and support the play. For those not in the area, we’ll be sure to keep tabs and inform you if the play makes its way into any other areas of the United States.
Would you go see this play if it was in your neck of the woods? Let us know in the comments below, and tell us about your favorite moment in the history of Usagi Yojimbo!