Punk Samurai Slash Down
by Kō Machida.
Thames River Press, 2014. ISBN 978-1-78308-127-1; 978-1-78308-127-9.
One fine day in the Edo period, a ronin (masterless samurai) is sitting on a bench outside a small tea house on a feudal-period highway. All of a sudden he gets up, marches across the way to where an old man on a pilgrimage with his blind daughter are resting, and in a lightning flash of his sword, cuts down the old man. Asked by another samurai who works for the local Kuroae Clan why on earth he killed the innocent old man, the ronin explains that the old man and his daughter are members of a religious cult known as the "Bellyshaker Party," which has been gaining ground in neighboring provinces to disastrous effect; he merely wished to prevent the same thing from happening in the Kuroae Domain. The Kuroae retainer rushes back to report the threat to his bosses, and the two dominant political factions in the domain swing into action, each hoping to use the crisis to its own advantage. . . .