HIroaki Samura and Action

Hiroaki Samura does my favorite action in comics.  Usually one of the keys to a dynamic fight in comics is the sort of awkward balance issues in a fight—the best fights look almost clumsy—this clumsiness creates this slow/slow/fast;soft/soft/loud rhythm when you are reading—so it allows for the sort of exclamation mark moments to really sing.

Samura’s characters aren’t clumsy though.  They are dancers.  Particularly Makie, whose fights are I think the best in Blade of Immortal.  The way Samura draws the human body—is so lithe and beautiful.  His characters are all sort of light and fast—and the soft pencils that sometimes just barely hatch outside of the lines—the effect is mesmirizing.  I mean it’s something a lot of manga do in action—but I really think Samura has a great sense of timing in terms of when to zoom in on a hand or a foot, and when to pull back into a wide shot.  Something you’ll see him do a lot—and you see him do it in these pages—is he uses the smaller panels for more intimate rhythmic details—these speed up the sense of speed in a fight—because as a reader you are sort of seeing all of these subtle movements one after another, bip, bip, bip, bip—and then suddenly he pulls out and it’s this still from this crazy ballet video.

The top page in terms of it’s composition is fucking beautiful.  Mackie’s foot jumps up to the left of the page, Manji looks back in that direction—but his head is drawn in a diagonal down from the foot, and then the third panel is his head but it’s directionally down—so the first two panels create this pause in the eye in how you read it—and then that third panel drops you into the bottom page which moves with that drop.  The head drop in the third panel mimics mackie’s movement and position in the fourth panel, as well as correlates directionally with all of the speed lines.  Which brings you to the bottom corner of the page, like dropping off a cliff.  And then you’re quickly to the next page.

I dunno.  He’s a master of balance, movement, and rhythm.  Also he draws great hands and feet—which I think is almost a foundational element of how his comics work.  Take away his ability to draw fingers holding things, or the way the foot twists in a sandal—and you lose like 90 percent of it.

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