Review: The Book of Five Rings: A Graphic Novel

The Book of Five Rings: A Graphic Novel

The word “bible” is usually thrown around a little too literally. The word was and is still used to describe the King James Bible and contained both the Old and New Testaments. Copywriters who struggle to describe any concise book about a subject tend to use this very term to describe their product. Whether or not it’s apt is a completely different matter but the intention is clear and sometimes is very appropriate.

Either way, very few books fit this description and rarely do they even compare. Holy books stand on their own but books that examine a certain subject must stand on its own. Books in this category that are not part of some collection or a holy book must be extraordinary to fit in this category, what some call, classic. In this graphic interpretation of Miyamoto Musashi’s The Book Of Five Rings, we get an adept love letter to a book which has changed the world.

We dive head first into the ring of “Earth”, where we learn the philosophy which drives martial arts through Musashi’s stories which shows how one can use it the “Way of Martial Arts” to defeat an opponent or multiple foes. In the ring of “Water”, he pushes the adage of being like water, something that Bruce Lee made famous, but few knew he got this way of thinking from Musashi, as he relates his story of how he thought Tadadoshi, his two-sword style, one which encourages the swordsman to deeply consider their opponent. In the ring of “Fire”, he describes how to use the energy and fury of fight within battle to focus one’s energy, as he urges the reader to make their foe react while the subject leads how the fight will go .In the ring of “Wind”, he takes his time to admire the different martial arts and how they compare to his style and the usefulness of knowing them all, as he tells a tale of own master who challenged him and lost, by not even being able to touch Musashi.  In the last ring of “emptiness”, he urges the reader to become the other four elements, thus combining them to move naturally in their ways, in the way of Emptiness, as tells how one of his last students dying , eventually lead him to write down what he learned for future generations.

Overall, an engaging and beautifully written graphic novel about not only martial arts but how to strategize against anything and anyone. The story by Miyamoto Musashi and Sean Michael Wilson makes this book even more accessible and still is very much enjoyable. The art by Chie Kutsawada is simply gorgeous. The translation by Williams Scott Wilson is well done. Altogether, another essential book by Sean Michael Wilson, which shows that he is a writer more comic fans should know.

Story: Sean Michael Wilson Art: Chie Kutsawada
Translation: William Scott Wilson
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy