- Series: Lone Wolf and Cub Omnibus (Book 1)
- Paperback: 712 pages
- Publisher: Dark Horse Manga (June 4, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1616551348
- ISBN-13: 978-1616551346
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 2.2 x 7.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 152 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #98,598 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Lone Wolf and Cub Omnibus Volume 1 Paperback – June 4, 2013
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About the Author
Kazuo Koike is a prolific Japanese manga writer, novelist, and entrepreneur. Early in Koike's career, he studied under Golgo 13 creator Takao Saito and served as a writer on the series. Koike, along with artist Goseki Kojima, made the manga Kozure Okami (Lone Wolf and Cub), and Koike also contributed to the scripts for the 1970s film adaptations of the series, which starred famous Japanese actor Tomisaburo Wakayama. Another series written by Koike, Crying Freeman, which was illustrated by Ryoichi Ikegami, was adapted into a 1995 live-action film by French director Christophe Gans.
Goseki Kojima was a Japanese manga artist known for his collaborations with Kazuo Koike. The team was often referred to as the “Golden Duo.” Kojima’s best-known work was Lone Wolf and Cub. Other titles attributed to Kojima are Samurai Executioner and Path of the Assassin. In 2004, Kojima won an Eisner Award.
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Until Dark Horse decided to publish the entire series in 2000, Lone Wolf and Cub had existed beforehand as a manga-mythos of the Far-East - extremely popular in its Nippon homeland, where it begun serialization in 1970 and continued for many years, spawning six films and critical acclaim in its wake; but published sporadically and incomplete on western shores. Dark Horse's commitment to the series was an audacious one - the story spanned some 28 volumes, an expensive investment for publisher and readership alike - but the end result was, to me and other scholars of Eastern culture, invaluable. For LW&C not only entertains with its blend of samurai-noir and vicious sword-play, it educates on the finer points of Japanese culture, as it existed in the Tokugawa era, and displays vividly the struggle of existence, from lowly peasants to the most upright nobility. LW&C is an Epic, and one of the finest I've chanced to read.
`The Assassin's Road' sets the tone of the series: small self-contained vignettes concerning the adventures of Ogami Itto and Daigoro, usually-but not always-concerning the grisly reality of their occupation. Intertwined are digressions into matters of Bushido, Buddhism and other aspects of Japanese society; and, sprinkled throughout, the larger and eventually more encompassing storyarc of LW&C's feud with the shadow-family of the Yagyu, `official' assassins of the Shogun. I have to admit that, structurally, the Ogami vs. Yagtu storyline is the most compelling aspect to the series, at least initially: and it comes in such rare intervals early on in the series that one continually hungers for more information, more contact with the central conflict...and yet, the minor storytelling is just as potent, if not more so - for here we are given insight into Ogami Itto's character, and that of his son; here we are exposed to the personalities, petty conflicts and personal struggle of Japanese history - and Japanese character.
This volume contains nine stories, nine steps for Ogami Itto and his son on their thousand-mile journey to meifumado...and beyond.
1) Son for Hire, Sword for Hire - the opening tale for the entire epic. Ogami Itto enters the *shima* (death-zone) to take down a scheming politician. A fitting, if mysterious, introduction to the characters and overall style of the manga.
2) A Father knows his Child's Heart, as only a Child can know his Father's: The relationship between father and son is explored in this short tale of deception and retribution; the concept of meifumado is given, and a deeper framework to LW&C's actions hinted at. Contains sexual content - gratuitous to western eyes; but not, I think, to those of the east, considering how *some* manga are...different cultures, different standards.
3) From North to South, from West to East - LW&C are hired to assassinate a vassal before he is taken to Edo for torture and confession. A decent story made valuable for its explanation of Shogun politics.
4) Baby Cart on the River Styx - the corruption of small town officials, and what lengths they will go to protect their malifecience, is at the heart of this tale. One begins to perceive Ogami Itto as not just a scruffy assassin, but a man concerned with honor and justice.
5) Suio School Zanbato - Daigoro `accidentally' urinates upon the head of a passing nobleman, who subsequently challenges the Lone Wolf to single combat. Like most of vol. 1, this story serves the purpose of exploring who and what LW&C are: Ogami's sword-style - and the lengths in which he will use his son as accomplice.
6) Waiting for the Rains - Daigoro meets a sick woman at a shrine; it is revealed that she was used by a shinobi (ninja) to help discredit her family house. Ogami Itto waits in the shadows, confident that the guilty ninja will return for his abandoned lover...
7) Eight Gates of Deceit - LW&C travel to a remote mountain village, only to find the inhabitants slaughtered, his contract void, and eight female warriors hunting for wolf's blood. A rousing action tale with a philosophic conclusion.
8) Wings to the Bird, Fangs to the Beast - my second favorite in this compilation. LW&C travel to a hot springs for rest and relaxation. A gang of bandits has occupied the town, however, and they take Ogami Itto prisoner. At the end of this story, we are given a vital clue into the history of LW&C, which leads directly into...
9) The Assassin's Road - a flashback sequence shows us (some) of the events that led LW&C onto the assassin's road. The evolution of Daigoro throughout the series is its emotional keystone, at once riveting and heartbreaking.
LW&C vol. 1 - `The Assassin's Road' does an admirable job of setting forward the characters and conflicts that shall dominate the Epic as a whole, but on its own, it is perhaps the least of the twenty-eight volumes. The art, storytelling, and language translation all improve with successive volumes. The last two stories alone make this compilation worth the price, however, and I whole-heartedly recommend Lone Wolf and Cub to both manga-enthusiasts and those curious about Japanese history.
Ogami Itto was the shogun’s executioner, and has chose to live the path of an assassin, offering his sword and son, Daigoro, to anyone willing to pay for his services. Itto has more than enough skill to deal with the most feared foes, armed with his dotanuki sword and expert tactics. He does whatever it takes to get the job done, even if it means appearing weak. One case has him allowing himself to be captured by the enemy, dismantling them from the inside out once he’s in their lair. Another has him entering a prison with some of the toughest criminals out there, getting unceremoniously beaten, then allowing himself to get put on death row after he kills a few of the guys that beat him after he gets the info he needs. The funny thing is, with all these dangerous situations, the guy’s rarely in any serious trouble because he’s just -that- good. This first volume of the Lone Wolf and Cub Omnibus contains 16 chapters in the series, with each chapter showing why Ogami Itto is probably the baddest fictional dude to grace any form of media.
As much as I could go on about how awesome the brutal fights are in this series, I think that everyone gets that by now. Fights are over very quickly in Lone Wolf and Cub, making you wonder what happened to manga where many fights are drawn out over the course of several books in some cases, usually just to showcase how powerful characters are, or worse- letting characters “power up” over several chapters. Goseki Kojima does a fantastic job showing how skilled Itto is with any weapon in just a couple of panels, never wasting a single space with unnecessary flash. Kazoo Koike’s writing is top-notch, and there is some very clever stuff in here. Ogami Itto isn’t a mindless killing machine- he has reasons for doing things the way he does them, and the majority of what he does in this volume is all planned out in advance. There were a lot of times I found myself smiling because of how tricky something was.
To be completely honest, I loved every single chapter here except for one which felt like a short filler episode. But even that one wasn’t bad by any means. It just wasn’t anywhere near as good as the others. Some of my favorite were:
-Chapter 5: Suio School Zanbato. Ogami Itto has a duel with a high ranking samurai, even getting a written note from the guy stating that he agreed to the duel. After dispatching him, the samurai’s men seek revenge on Itto, planning to ambush him on horses.
-Chapter 8: Wings to the Birds, Fangs to the Beast. Probably one of the more well-known chapters here. Itto and Daigoro head to a hot spring that’s ruled by outlaws at the moment, who’ve taken the nearby village hostage. Itto does a very noble thing to save a prostitute, and deals with the outlaws in a way that only he can. Having a baby cart that’s full of built-in weapons sure helps.
-Chapter 9: The Assassin’s Road. This is the one chapter where we learn something about Ogami Itto and Daigoro, going over part of what led them to this path they walk. One of the duo’s most memorable moments comes at the end of the chapter during a duel where Itto bows his head down while dashing at his opponent, revealing Daigoro on his back wearing a mirror on his head to reflect the sunlight at the opponent, blinding him.
-Chapter 12: Tragic O-Sue. This is basically a Daigoro story. With his dad sick, resting in a small temple somewhere (and having some pretty gnarly nightmares about demons), Daigoro is left to fend for himself after he gets imprisoned by a high ranking samurai’s family. The master of the house wonders if Daigoro is the son of the infamous Lone Wolf and Cub assassin he’s heard so much about.
-Chapter 16: Half Mat, One Mat, A Fistful of Rice. Finally, we end the book with the first opponent who actually stands a chance against the assassin. A highly skilled samurai turned sideshow attraction takes the father and son out for a meal after accidentally almost harming Daigoro. He doesn’t like the path that Ogami Itto is on, and wishes for him to stop, for his son’s sake. Itto refuses, for both him and his son have chosen it. As a result, he chooses to stop the former executioner himself in a duel. This leads to a very intense moment where the two stare down each other, and visualize several possibilities of what’s going to happen when they make their moves.
And keep in mind those are only 5 of my favorites, and there are at lest 5 others I could go on about! What are you waiting for? This is a crazy-good deal for so much of the story. My only issues are that it would be so much better if the volumes were in hardcover format, because the paper covers do start to wear down quickly due to how much content there is, and I’m still not happy that they reversed everything. Yes, this reads like a standard US/European comic, from left to right, and as a result, all the artwork is reversed too. Dark Horse has a reason for it, and it’s not a very good one. Maybe in another couple of decades they’ll finally put it out as it was originally published?
Those minor complaints aside, nothing should keep you from buying this book.
A very nice thick manga from Dark Horse Manga, over 700 pages of pure black and white action, intrigue, and self exploration in this book.
This is my first manga, I believe. The closest I ever came to this type of stuff was Scott Pilgrim and SharKnife, the latter being absolutely deplorable.
The story revolves around a Ronin out to atone or avenge the death of his wife, carrying his son with him. Why he has his son at all is revealed halfway through the book and is one of the more powerful scenes so I won't go through it now with you.
Basically, he's an assassin. He often uses his son and puts him in grave danger to meet his mission, but his reasoning is "Even a Wolf Cub is still a Wolf", seeing as his son is strong and can take care of himself.
This is absolutely brilliant and I for sure will be buying volume two in this series. Lots of action, lots of neat problem solving and unique murders and stories to keep you guessing each time. It did end softly with the last two stories but 98% of the book is gold.
Definitely check it out, even if you've never read this sort of thing (like myself), you might like it.