Friday, October 29, 2010

Graphic Friday: Lone Wolf and Cub

Title:  Lone Wolf and Cub, Volumes 1-14
Author:  Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima (artist)

The Dish:  Honor, betrayal, disgrace, vengeance…Lone Wolf and Cub chronicles the story of Ogami Itto, the Shogun's executioner who uses a dotanuki battle sword. Disgraced by false accusations from the Yagyu clan,he is forced to take the path of the assassin. Along with his three-year-old son, Daigorō, they seek revenge on the Yagyu clan and are known as "Lone Wolf and Cub".

I was started down the path of Ogami Itto and his son, Daigoro, by one who thought I would appreciate the merits and the journey of this father and son seeking vengeance and justice within Japan.  After reading the first 14 volumes, I would have to say he was right simply because although Ogami and Daigoro are the protagonists within the story, it is rather hard to state their story is a 'hero's journey'.  Because of what Ogami does (which at times involves Daigoro in the grand scheme) as an assasin, one cannot really call them "heroes" though in many cases, Ogami has managed to save side characters we meet within their long quest even if saving them often at times means releasing them from pain/dishonor/distress.  Their story is more of a quest to clear the honorable name of Itto and to punish those who had betrayed them. 

What I also admire about the writing of Lone Wolf and Cub are the notes written regarding the time period.  Koike helps set the story in a more historical sense in allowing the reader to see more through the eyes of the characters and understand a different culture's manners and behaviors.  He also supplies a glossary of main terms used throughout the volumes (some with additional terms) in the index area of the books while words used less frequently are explained within the text itself.  Kojima's art style is definitely unique and recognizable among other Japanese graphic novels.  Although at times disturbing, I believe it helps set the mood for the times, giving a more realistic view of how things appeared and were dealt with in this era of Japan.  I would almost liken it to Rurouni Kenshin only more gritty, violent, and rough through and through rather than just the edges. 

What graphic novels grab you?


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