The Story of Sekiro Expands With a Manga About Hanbei the Undying

The prequel series gets a full, physical release in English next week.

Despite being (in this writer’s estimation) the best action game From Software has ever made, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice didn’t light the world on fire the way Dark Souls and Bloodborne did in their days. The brutally difficult battle through a fictionalized feudal Japan never received any DLC, either. That’s rare for From games these days. So it’s exciting to see the plot expanded in one form or another. In this case, that comes from Sekiro Side Story: Hanbei the Undying, which gets a physical manga release next week.

The news was officially announced on the publisher’s own Twitter account yesterday, alongside an image of the book’s cover. You can see for yourself just below:

We also received a press release, which includes the official summary from the publisher:

Life beyond death…A foolish notion with which to deceive oneself. But what happens when death does not come? Hanbei the Undying has lived longer than most, yet he’s found no sense of purpose along the way-no reason to swing his blade. With a history vaster than most could hope to comprehend, it’s only natural to wonder: Who exactly was he before he met the Wolf? Find out in this must-read tale for fans of FromSoftware’s hit game SEKIRO: Shadows Die Twice!

Hanbei the Undying has actually been steadily released, chapter by chapter, in Japanese since its related game released. And the first chapter has been available in English for free on the Yen Press website ever since. This is the first time the series is physically available in English, however. There’s also a digital collection that finalized just earlier this year.

If you don’t remember Hanbei, he’s the self-loathing, sapient training dummy that Sekiro (a.k.a. the Wolf, the game’s title character) can beat on to practice new moves. That relationship works out because, as you might have guessed, Hanbei is immortal. Not that he’s happy about it. And shots from the translated manga (also on the Yen Press Twitter account), which teased the physical release earlier this month, hammer that fact home. It’s no shock given the nature of immortality in the Sekiro universe.

This also explains that Hanbei the Undying is a prequel, as the character’s ultimate fate can be decided via side quest in Shadows Die Twice. The series also features Isshin Ashina from the main game (another character that meets one very final end or another, no matter which of the game’s multiple conclusions you unlock).

The 144 page book is penned by Shin Yamamoto, who previously worked on a long-running Monster Hunter tie-in manga, Monster Hunter: Flash Hunter, as well. Although the project was supervised by From Software. There currently aren’t any other Sekiro projects announced, and From is now working on the very secretive Elden Ring with George R. R. Martin — so this may be your last, best chance to experience the world the world of the game. And you should! Like I said up top, it deserves more credit.

You can snap up Sekiro Side Story: Hanbei the Undying on Tuesday of next week, June 23. The hard copy retails for $15 and is available pretty much everywhere you’d expect.