January 14, 2014 7:35 PM | Lena LeRay
Usagi Yojimbo is a classic American comic book series created by Stan Sakai. Happy Giant has made the first Usagi Yojimbo game in 25 years, an arcade-style game along the lines of the old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game. Although it's been out on mobile devices for the better part of a year, Happy Giant has ported it to Windows and Mac and is trying to get it it on Steam, with 100% of the profits from the first 47 days the game is live going to creator Stan Sakai, whose family has had a bad year with high medical costs. The comic book community has been rallying to support him and now Happy Giant is trying to help him out their own way.
Stan Sakai is a Japanese-American who pulled heavily from Japanese culture to create Usagi Yojimbo in 1984. "Usagi" is Japanese for "rabbit", and "yojimbo" means "bodyguard". From those two things you can get a pretty good idea of what the comic is about. When Sakai was originally conceptualizing the story, the characters were all going to be human, but some idle doodling led to the main character, Miyamoto Usagi, being a rabbit and everyone else being anthropomorphized animals as well. Miyamoto Usagi has appeared in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle works on many occasions, which perhaps makes it extra appropriate for Happy Giant to have used the old TMNT arcade games as inspiration for this one. Happy Giant also worked closely with Stan Sakai to ensure that the art, story, and dialogue are all faithful to the original comics.
"Stan Sakai and his family have had a tragic year, and we want to help him out as much as we can," said Michael Levine, HappyGiant President and Founder. "We hope to use this as a "Kickstarter" like event, except in this case, the game is already done. We just need people to spread the word and vote for it on Steam!"
As for why Happy Giant is donating profits from the first 47 days, specifically, it's a reference to a bit of Japanese history. A feudal lord was forced to commit ritual suicide, leaving the samurai under his command as masterless ronin. Over the course of two years, 47 of these ronin plotted to get revenge for their master's death, and upon succeeding had to commit suicide themselves. It's considered by the Japanese to be a tale of honor and loyalty, and Stan Sakai did his own rendition of it last year which was published under the Dark Horse comics label. "Its a tale of Samurai banding together, which I thought was appropriate given what we are trying to do!" said Levine.
Edit: This article previously referred to the main character as Usagi Yojimbo because the author is more familiar with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, in which the character's proper name goes unused.