Lone Wolf and Cub
Kazuo Koike, Goseki Kojima
Historic Drama

Lone Wolf and Cub is the tale of a ronin for hire who travels with his son, performing brutal assassinations in often extreme and unusual plans. Itto Ogami was once the Shogun's executioner, but after being wrongfully accused of plotting to overthrow the Shogun, he takes to the road with his son, Daigoro. Initially, we are led to believe that he has just become a sword for hire, but as the stories progress, more information is leaked to us on Ogami's past and current plans.

The strength of the story lies in it's many layers. While not much of the main character's story is handed out, it is slowly leaked over time, which aides in the mystique and keeps from bogging down any of the chapters in needless history and flashback. Each chapter is a different tale and a different assignment. In themselves, each tale is written and played out well, leaving the reader wondering what's going to happen and how events will unfold until they actually do. Throughout all of the tales, though, there is a strong sense of history and style. Fans of oriental culture and history will enjoy this read, especially with how faithfully the tale is told. Characters decisions are based in honor and the political wrangling feels real and true to history.

Illustration wise, I can't help but feel a bit of familiarity with this collection. Often, the illustrations feel like series comic strips in style. This is not to say that Lone Wolf and Cub is not drawn well. In fact, I find the style to work extremely well for the story. Characters aren't drawn with traditionally comic features (large eyes, big heads), but still blend a mix of realism and fantasy. At times, the action can get a bit chaotic, but the end result is a feeling that mimics what the action told in the story actually is - a chaotic battle that ends in bloody demise. The overall style easily compliments the fully realized and progressively deep story.

In all, the collected volumes of this series are well worth your time to pick up. The stories are well told and you will often find yourself rushing through the story to find out the conclusion, only to be amazed by how events have turned out. While the first volume of this series is just a warm-up to the depth of character and story in this series, it still shines far above most of it's counterparts. Without a doubt, Lone Wolf and Cub should be in any manga fan's collection.

- - Vane

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