The story Lone Wolf and Cub is about a samurai, Ogami Itto and his son Daigoro, on their journey for meifumado (Road to Hell) aka road to vengeance. The story is written by Kazuo Koike and illustrated by Goseki Kojima. It was adapted into movies and a television series.
I first learned of this story when I was researching about samurai for my fanfiction. My fascination with samurai movies and stories started when I watched the Zatoichi series. If you are familiar with the said series, it is about a blind swordsman travelling the outskirts of Japan offering his services as samurai and masseur.And if you follow the story of Lone Wolf and Cub, you’ll see that there are many similarities between the two protagonists.
I saw the hardbound copy of the story in one of our local bookstores but then I was too broke to buy it. When I finally had enough money, I came back to buy the book but it was sold out. I looked for it on the internet and thankfully I was able to find a copy for free. Since then I had obsessed over Ogami Itto’s adventures, reading and marveling over his fights every night.
I found the story unique because in the story, Ogami Itto usually carries Daigoro on his back while he battled goons with a long spear/katana. It was scary to think that the child might get injured in the process, but the fact that he doesn’t is a testament to Itto’s superb sword-wielding skills. He also uses Daigoro sometimes to help him in his assassinations.
The artwork in Lone Wolf and Cub is that of the ukiyo-e style. It captures the beautiful scenery of Edo period Japan. There are parts of the manga that a whole spread is dedicated to a scenery and the drawings themselves are often enough to tell the story. Unlike modern manga, however, the fight scenes are less flashy. It bummed me a little but it’s not a big hindrance in enjoying the manga.
Aside from the fight scenes the story also focuses on Itto’s values as a samurai. His search for vengeance is the center of Lone Wolf and Cub, and while it seems negative, every chapter ends quite happily, with them helping people (albeit with bloodshed). If you’re willing to overlook the dark undertones, I recommend this story for light reading.
It is clear that the Lone Wolf and Cub is not meant to teach good manners and right conduct. It is also not meant to be a bedtime story for kids. It is however, a good way of gaining insight into the bushidoand the samurai way of life in the Tokugawa era of Japan. I found parallelisms between the samurai and my own country’s old warriors–the ‘caste’ system in society, the emphasis on the value of honor and loyalty…stuff like that.
A great story all in all, I recommend it for those who have enough patience to read lengthy books. But if you’re not into feudal Japan and long narrations, a different manga will suit you.
You can read Lone Wolf and Cub here.