Lone Wolf and Cub 5

November 3, 2012

Kazuo Koike / Goseki Kojima – Dark Horse – 2001 – 28 volumes

I put off reading this a little bit because it seems, after 12 years, this series is going out of print. I’ve been waiting for copies to come in at work, as they used to appear with amazing frequency. Predictably, when I started looking, no copies of volume 6 have arrived in the last year. Some day, though.

In the meantime, I’ve got volume 5 to keep me company. It’s still as good as I remember. One of the more epic moments in the volume comes in a story about a band of rough bandits that looks to get revenge and a bounty on Ogami. They manage to kidnap Daigoro, and threaten to kill him unless Ogami Itto reveals where the money from his commissioned kills is kept. Ogami Itto refuses, and explains that while he’s sure they will kill Daigoro, he refuses to reveal the location, so all that will be left are corpses in the sand after their confrontation. When the bandits express shock over the fact he wouldn’t protect his son, he comments that Daigoro understands that father and son are on the path of Meifumado together, and that the result is incidents like this.

It’s a powerful moment. Of course, it ends with Ogami Itto killing all the bandits single-handedly, which is also awesome. Always a pleasure to see it illustrated in this series, too.

My favorite story overall, however, was one called Black Wind, about Ogami Itto joining some rice planters in season. He does not explain his presence, only offers to help with the planting. The farmers, all women, are delighted but mystified by his presence. They are also charmed by Daigoro. It’s an unusually placid story, but has its moment of action when bandits come to recruit Ogami for whatever cause they need men for (which explains where all the men went). He refuses, and slaying happens, as is the pattern in this series. The confrontation wasn’t the point of the rice planting, however, and it ends as calmly as it started. It’s an unusual story, and a nice change of pace for the series.

One of the stories is about Asaemon, the Shogun’s headsman, last seen in Blade of the Immortal, at least for me. The Yagyu, wanting revenge against Ogami, sends Asaemon against him, thinking that it will be a fair match between superior swordsmen. It’s an interesting duel, particularly since Asaemon has no particular vendetta against Ogami and respects him as a swordsman.

I don’t read volumes of this very often, and I always forget how good they are until I pick up the next one. I really should dip into it more often, especially since they’re vanishing into the secondhand market. Here’s hoping I run across a set before too long.

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