By: Rock Kitaro
Date: June 23, 2013
“Vampire” by The Trax (Japanese Rock) –
In the previous episode of Dragon Ash…
We open up to Bakumatsu era of Japan where the assassin Kawakami Gensai cuts down influential politician Sakuma Shozan. Without provocation or a given reason, Gensai steals a scroll that’s tucked in Shozan’s robe. Unbeknownst to Gensai, that simple act of theft will eventually bring a world of trouble upon his descendants.
This brings us to Tien Kaze. Our rebellious teen hero who gets kicked out of school for standing up for a girl who was being molested on the back of the bus. As if he didn’t already feel isolated and obscured by his peers and religious congregation, things escalate when his father jumps the gun and tries to ban Tien from seeing his grandfather, the accused source of his misbehavior. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back, as Tien does the unthinkable. In the heat of the argument, Tien ends up throwing a regretful punch, flashing an ounce of the anger he’s held back for so long. But the disappointment written on his parent’s faces are too much to bear. Tien runs away from home.
In Episode 2…
We take a first-hand look at the so-called “expeditions” executed by the up and coming research and development company, Miro-Tech. In the Himalayas, Miro-Tech’s own private group of soldiers waste no time in seizing a remote village in pursuit of a pendant that is supposed to lead the way to one of Japan’s most sacred hidden treasures.
Amongst the main players, Silence, the femme fatale and majority shareholder of Miro-Tech shows multiple sides of herself. A brutish violent side towards anyone who stands in her way, a strong sense of superiority towards her race as a Japanese, yet a subtle sense of regret towards having to kill. Other than her protégé, Mellow, the only one who seems to understand her is her college lab partner and lead historian, the brilliant smartass Steven Alba. But even Alba can alleviate Silence’s voracious thirst for power. Even if Silence can’t already see that she has it.
Following up with the events in the states, Masatake Kaze comes home from a long overnight stocking shift at Home Depot to find his only grandson asleep on his couch. As you can probably guess from episode one, Tien’s bond with Masa is unbreakable. Tien opens up with how he’s felt for so long and makes up his mind that he wants to go to Japan, where he naively thinks that he’d be accepted. The two have a heart-to-heart conversation over a classic karate sparring match for old times sake and it ends with Tien finally convincing his grandfather that he isn’t just blowing smoke. His passion is real. His desire to visit the land of his ancestors is real.
So of course…Masa takes it one step further. Whilst packing a bag and giving Tien what little cash he had on him, Masa talks about a legendary school of swordsmanship. A family whose heirs and descendants have carried on with the school providing the best martial arts training exclusively to selected individuals from Japan’s elite class. These warriors range from the famous Minamoto Yoshitsune to the deadly Yagyu Jubei. A warrior trained by the Yagami family is said to equal the strength and speed of ten skilled samurai on the battlefield.
Over the centuries, the Yagami family has dwindled to damn near exile, but Masa knows where their only living descendents reside. Bound for Japan with a bus ticket and a plan to work as a sailor, Tien is filled with renewed vigor and excitement. Finally furnished with an attainable goal and instilled with a fulfilling sense of purpose, Tien grins…determined to find the Yagyu family and learn this so-called exclusive martial art.