The closing stages of Sengoku (Warring States) Japan. A setting commonly explored in Japanese manga through vivid scenes of gory battles, samurai, and feats of bravery, honour, and loyalty. Iwaaki Hitoshi dares to go against the popular grain by not focusing on the 3 famous unifiers, but by depicting stories of a society in transition. Rapidly changing cultural norms and class expectations pit the old versus the young, the war-weary versus the war-mongers, and the parochial versus the foward-thinking. The first story, “Snow Ridge,” explores the changing role of samurai and provinces while the second story, “Sword Dance,” deals with kendo’s early evolution from warfare to art.