HOME ABOUT SUPPORT US SITES WE LIKE FORUM Search Fanboyplanet.com | Powered by Freefind FANBOY PLANET
Graphic Depictions Today's Date:

Lone Wolf and Cub: The Assassin's Road

Did you ever dream of a world where almost everybody read comic books? Ever lay awake at night, imagining a place where comics are the mainstream form of printed entertainment? Well, there is such a place and the name of this mythical land is……….Japan!

Japan's comic industry is huge and it's directly related to the anime market, many books beginning as manga (the Japanese equivalent of "comics") and later becoming movies. One of Japan's most famous manga is Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima's Lone Wolf and Cub.

Originally published in 1970 under the title Kozure Okami, Lone Wolf and Cub has been collected and re-published all over the world and has spawned a television series and series of six films entitled Baby Cart Assassin. It is a classic story in Japan and now thanks to a publishing deal with Dark Horse Comics, it's available in the United States.

Lone Wolf and Cub: The Assassin's Road is the first in the collection that exceeds 30 volumes. It is the tale of Ogami Itto, former kaishakunin (the man appointed at the time of seppuku or ritual suicide, meant to cut the head from the body after ritual disembowelment, the most respected position for a samurai) to the Emperor himself, and his three-year old son Daigoro.

Through great treachery, the Yagyu clan has disgraced the Ogami family name, and caused the deaths of Itto's wife and the rest of the Ogami clan. When Itto is ordered to commit seppuku, he refuses, slaying those who oppose his escape and winning his freedom. No longer permitted to be a samurai, Itto becomes the assassin called Lone Wolf and Cub, taking jobs as they come, but demanding to know the reason behind his assassinations.

With him, he takes his son Daigoro in a specially made cart as they travel, walking the path of meifumado (Buddhist Hell), all the while seeking revenge on the Yagyu, hoping to restore their family's honor.

This series is an education in itself. Lone Wolf and Cub has been praised for its meticulously researched recreation of Edo-Period Japan. Any reader delving into the series gains a cultural education.

Each volume contains approximately 7 to 12 different stories of Ogami Itto and Daigoro's jobs and experiences. And in a nod to translation sticklers, all terms in the books that do not have a direct English equivalent are left in their original Japanese and can be found in the glossary provided in each volume. Some volumes also carry small surprises in the back; the first volume has an article excerpt titled The Ronin Report, describing the evolution of the samurai warrior, while the seventh contains an essay on women's roles featured in Lone Wolf and Cub.

This series is spectacular in the way it immerses the reader in ancient Japanese culture. One begins to understand what terms like "honor" and "loyalty" mean to the Japanese when such terms are demonstrated by the willingness of a samurai to guard the place where his master died for the rest of his life (volume 7), or by the bloody revenge enacted by a dead samurai's sister (volume 7).

Koike is a superb writer whose historical fiction knows no equal and each of his stories brings with it some type of philosophical question; for example, in volume 2, Itto ponders the righteousness of killing a Buddha who is causing inadvertent destruction to a local village. When Itto questions himself, the reader does also, dwelling on the moral questions presented to him, though seeing it through the filter of bushido (the Way of the Warrior described in the series) and judging it thus.

The artwork is as masterful as manga has ever been drawn. Kojima does not draw in the cartoon-ish style many Japanese artists use; his depictions are cinematic and his characters are delicately rendered. Each character is defined well, and most are free from the "facial sameness" that many manga characters suffer from (for example, ever try mentally switching the hair cuts on Gundam Wing characters and seeing if they look any different?).

Each volume is $9.95, which means if you plan to buy the entire series, save up, but it is worth the investment. Reading Japanese comics, a literary field with a multitude of genres, helps us to appreciate the kind of diversity possible in the American comics field, if only some more people were willing to stray from the beaten path of cape-and-tights comics. So pick up a copy and broaden your international horizons. Who knows, you might become an otaku (or fan, for those of us without a Japanese glossary).

Lone Wolf and Cub 1: The Assassin's Road

Robert Sparling

Our Friends:

Official PayPal Seal

Copyrights and trademarks for existing entertainment (film, TV, comics, wrestling) properties are held by their respective owners and are used with permission or for promotional purposes of said properties. All other content ™ and © 2001, 2014 by Fanboy Planet™.
"The Fanboy Planet red planet logo is a trademark of Fanboy Planetâ„¢
If you want to quote us, let us know. We're media whores.
Movies | Comics | Wrestling | OnTV | Guest | Forums | About Us | Sites