This week on the Major Spoilers Podcast, the crew tries something completely different with Lone Wolf and Cub.

Lone Wolf and Cub Volume 1

Lone Wolf and Cub chronicles the story of Ogami Ittō, the Shogun’s executioner who uses a dōtanuki battle sword. Disgraced by false accusations from the Yagyū clan, he is forced to take the path of the assassin. Along with his three-year-old son, Daigorō, they seek revenge on the Yagyū clan and are known as “Lone Wolf and Cub”.

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About Author

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment. You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...


    • Okay. My initial shock is over. I can be constructive now. ;p

      It’s been awhile since I first read Lone Wolf & Cub, but it still holds fond memories for me. Ogami Itto, in my eyes, is a wonderful contradiction since he tends to come off as noble in spite the fact that he chooses to make his living as an assassin. The most iconic moment of the first book (and probably the whole series) is the choice that Itto gives his son Daigoro. He either chooses the ball (in which he joins his mother in death) or he chooses the sword (where he joins his father in his quest for vengeance). This is also a scene replicated in Jet Li’s “New Legend of Shaolin” or “Legend of the Red Dragon” as it’s known in the states.

      Speaking of film, I have also seen almost all of the “Baby Cart” series. These films are the movie versions of Lone Wolf & Cub. The films are very faithful to the manga so I recommend at the very least watching one. There have also been many TV shows, but sadly none seem to make it to the western market to my knowledge.

      This series is still influential today since it is the series that romanticized the wandering samurai or “ronin”. Wherever you see in anime or manga a lone warrior who follows his own code; you can be sure he’s borrowing character traits from Ogami Itto. What has always been strange to me is that Lone Wolf & Cub has never been an anime even though there are plenty (“Ruroni Kenshin”/”Samurai X” to name one) that borrow from it.

      P.S. : To anyone who is willing to give “Ruroni Kenshin” a chance; you’re better off renting the version translated by Media Blasters. The “Samurai X” version localized by Sony was poorly done. This is also the version that is in Hulu, BTW.

  1. Antonio Sanciolo on

    Collecting the monthly volumes of Lone Wolf & Cub as they were released by Dark Horse, remains one of the most prized moments of my geekhood. I’d head off from university to work on a friday night, buy a copy of the latest volume on the way and spend every possible moment out on the fire escape or hiding in the storeroom digesting every single panel.

    I don’t want to come off as an “Otaku Jerkwad” but this volume was the one that got the ball rolling for me and made me see manga as more than just a go-to resource for weird sex and ultra-violence.

    It’s a shame we can’t comment on the series as a whole because Koike’s character development is some of the finest of any literary forms I’ve read, and there are some bloody tear-jerking moments the more you get into the narrative.

    Visually, it’s art; pure and simple. It’s like watching a sprawling Kurosawa, edo period epic, but unconstrained by the physical innanities like time and gravity. The pacing is spellbinding as seemingly life-long staring matches are interrupted by shotgun blasts of meat-cleaving swordplay and the staccato avalanches of cascading Yagyu katana-fodder. See, I can’t even recollect the piece without getting all dramatic.

    Ultimately Lone Wolf and Cub is a groundbreaking manga that reaches out beyond it’s own genre and has forever changed western comics and even cinema. Take a look at “Sin City” and “Kill Bill”, for instance. You’ll see that Miller and Tarantino are nothing more than research fellows at the school of cool that is Koike & Kojima’s “Lone Wolf & Cub”

  2. I have learned so much from Major Spoilers over the years about comic book culture but am delighted you are reviewing something that I loved before I became a faithful Spolierite.
    I first became interested in the series after watching the original Shogun assassins film. There is a beautiful scene where Itto is badly injured and Diagoro has to carry him water in his mouth, because it keeps slipping through his fingers. I was delighted to see that the haunting portrayal of a child is the same in the novels.

    This series became my favourite comic/novel for so many reasons, but I will try to be brief.

    Weapons: Koike and Kojima show loving dedication in their portrayal of the variety, use and fighting styles of classic and obscure Japanese weapons.

    Japanese culture: The caste system in feudal japan is highlighted over and over. Dedication to the emporor, honour of your Lord and House above all else. I am truly fascinated by the concept that a culture developed where suicide (seppuku) was considered an honourable death and can only be preformed by members of a noble house.

    Diagoro is the character that gives this series true depth for me. I felt the whole range of emotions when reading. He is innocent and unknowing yet is deprived of a childhood and witnesses horror after horror as he follows his father on the daemon path. He is loved and reviled by the people he meets, he is pitied and beaten mercilessly, helped and hindered.
    My favourite moments are the panels where he is chasing a butterfly or watching a leaf float down stream. As a reader, watching him marvel at these simple things I feel a desperate hope that he can just be allowed to grow up normally, but equally I know he will always follow and honour his father. I even feel that this is the right thing to do, it just makes me sad.

    I have rushed this a little because I wanted to get it posted before the show but I hope anyone reading this will feel my passion for this series and make the effort to pick it up.

    I look forward to the show (as always) and want to take this opportunity to thank you guys for the extensive and most excellent work you have been doing for the last few years.

    Much Love!!


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