Nogochi the Samurai


32 pages
ISBN 1-895555-54-X
DDC jC813'.54






Illustrations by Johnny Wales
Reviewed by Steve Pitt

Steve Pitt is a Toronto-based freelance writer and an award-winning journalist. He has written many young adult and children's books, including Day of the Flying Fox: The True Story of World War II Pilot Charley Fox.


Noguchi is a samurai warrior. He is also a bully. On a short ferry ride
he amuses himself by terrorizing all the passengers and crew on the
boat. Finally, he picks a fight with another samurai named Michihara.
Although he is an elderly man, Michihara easily defeats Noguchi using
only his wits. The young samurai realizes his arrogance has led to his
humiliation, and he apologizes to everyone on the boat. He leaves the
ferry a wiser and humbler samurai.

This story was written by Burt Konzak, who, according to the book’s
cover, teaches “Zen Buddhism, ethics, and philosophy at the University
of Toronto.” He is also a karate teacher—a sensei in Japanese.
Unfortunately, he is not a writer. Konzak’s prose is stilted and
marred by clichés. The timing of the climax does not quite work.

Despite the shortcomings of the story, the artwork by Johnny Wales
justifies the price of the book. Wales manages to give each of the
characters a charming idiosyncrasy that draws sympathy from the reader.
The panels are often drawn from strange and obscure points of view,
which makes each page fresh and interesting.

This book has a strong moral and lovely packaging, but it mostly fails
in the delivery of the story. Recommended with reservations.


Konzak, Burt., “Nogochi the Samurai,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed December 7, 2023,