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File:Lonewolfandcub.jpg

Lone Wolf and Cub (Kozure Ohkami) is an iconic Manga created by Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima, describing the adventures of Itto Ohgami, former executioner for the Shogun, and his son Daigoro. Ohgami, after being framed for treason against the Shogunate by the Yagyu clan, faced a choice between death and dishonor. Instead, Itto Took A Third Option: abandon bushido to follow "Meifumado" - roughly, either "the way of the demon" or "the road to hell". He would become a Ronin assassin, Walking the Earth while planning his vengeance. And his son Daigoro, due to a Secret Test of Character from his father, now follows the same bloody road.

The original manga was published from 1970 to 1976. The series has been adapted into several movies and a live-action TV series in Japan. An English-dubbed "adaptation" of the movies was released in 1980 as Shogun Assassin. Anim Eigo has released both subtitled and dubbed versions of the films. A sequel, called Shin Kozure Ohkami written by Koike with Hideki Mori doing the art (since Goseki Kojima died in 2000) is currently running in Japan.

Lone Wolf also inspired the American comic Road to Perdition, which changed the setting to 1930s Illinois and aged up the son to a pre-teen. Road To Perdition was later made into a movie starring Tom Hanks.

Unrelated to famous Lone Wolf gamebook series by Joe Dever.


Lone Wolf and Cub provides examples of:

  • Against the Setting Sun: Used in one case to try and blind Itto during a duel, though Genre Savvy [1] Itto puts a reflective ornament on Daigoro's head to blind the enemy and wins.
  • And Your Little Dog, Too: Itto once went *even more* Unstoppable Rage than he had previously been, when the Shogun directly threatened to kill little Daigoro.
  • Animal Motifs: The Ittos are wolves. Retsudo is a tiger. "Decapitator" Asaemon, the shogun's sword tester and one of the more noble samurai in the series, is called an eagle. Abe-No-Kaii Tanoshi, the poison taster and epitome of depravity, is called a worm.
  • Arch Enemy: Yagyu Retsudo
  • Audible Sharpness
  • Badass: Itto breaks the curve.
  • Badass and Baby: The Ur-Example.
  • Badass and Child Duo: Though in this case they are related.
  • Badass Beard: Retsudo
  • BFG: The "multiple-fire rifle". This one functions more or less like a really big shotgun rather than a rapid-fire weapon.
    • It's a "volley gun." It has multiple barrels designed to fire simultaneously to the same effect as a shotgun.
  • Battle Aura: Virtually every trained fighter in the manga has this, allowing them to sense hostility (warrior blood lust) in others and respond accordingly.
    • Subverted by a group of crippled veteran ninja, sent by Retsudo after Itto. They were experienced enough to mask their auras from Itto and spy on him undetected.
    • Averted when Itto takes an assignment to kill a Shinto priest. Although not being a warrior, the priest still has an aura so powerful that no one with ill intent can come close enough to touch him... Not even Itto. Leads to Itto taking a Level In Badass (if that's even possible) by withdrawing to the mountains to meditate and fast for over a week, while leaving Daigoro alone with food. Briefly interrupted only by a small group of hungry wolves (which he slays with his bare hands) Itto returns enlightened and able to suppress his negative energy output. He is then able to kill without bloodlust. The priest compliments Itto on his accomplishment right before Itto apologizes and splits him from scalp to sternum.
  • Big Bad: Retsudo
  • Big Ol' Eyebrows
  • Bowdlerise: When the movie adaptation was released under the American title Shogun Assassin, among other things these were mercilessly Bowdlerised:
    • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: The word "Hara-kiri" was used to describe the ritual suicide following a defeat or failure, though in context they would have used the much less vulgar word "Seppuku".
    • Lull Destruction: Extraneous dialog and narration added to otherwise silent scenes, not to mention a grating synthesizer replacing the traditional music of the original.
    • Noblewoman's Laugh: Given to the head Kunoichi in the English version (even in a scene that didn't originally have it), making her sound totally insane when the original was a barely audible snicker. It must be heard to be believed.
  • Calling Your Attacks: Itto and Retsudo spend literally a whole day and night (as well as half of a book) doing this during their first arranged duel.
  • Carnival of Killers
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Although LWAC does stay closer to reality than what you would casually expect, it still allows for some spectacular details. By default, studying martial arts will grant you a 6th sense (Battle Aura), make you fast enough to appear as a blur to Joe Normal, let you fight (and kill) in your sleep, and sturdy enough to flat out ignore the harsh elements of nature. Taken to even further levels in the case of ninja... or Itto.
  • The Chessmaster: Itto is a frequent user of the The Plan and its suptropes and even manages to combine the best parts of them.
  • Close-Call Haircut: Happens to Daigoro's topknot in one scene and is the closest the movie actually gets to injuring him.
  • Cheerful Child: Daigoro, despite living a life with a fairly high dosage of murder. On the other hand, when someone who knows what they're talking about actually locks eyes with the kid, they note that he has the kind of gaze that is usually only seen on extremely experienced warriors who have seen a lifetime's worth of slaughter, and remark how creepy it is to see it in a child.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Itto works the holy hell out of this trope. Retsudo is also a noteworthy example.
  • Conservation of Ninjitsu: Subverted once when a team of Kunoichi successfully take out an unlucky mook to demonstrate their skill, then played straight when a group of Kunoichi can't do anything to the protagonists, but the boss lady can pretty much hold her own against Itto (IE not get killed) Also somewhat toward the end when all the remaining Grass work together and succeed in breaking Itto's sword.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Sort of a meta-example: According to The Other Wiki , the author came up with the name Suio-Ryu because it sounded romantic, not knowing that a sword fighting school of the same name really existed. This also results in a mild case of Did Not Do the Research since the way Suio-Ryu is depicted in the manga is pretty far from what it really is like.
  • Cooldown Hug
  • Crazy Prepared: Itto. Also Retsudo with his Yagyu Grass.
  • Crotch Grab Sex Check - a variation - checking out the existence of breasts instead, to confirm femininity. As this is done as part of a security checkpoint and ID check, the person doing the checking is a woman as well, and they're very polite about the pat-down.
  • Crusading Widower: A neat summary of the plot.
  • Deep-Cover Agent: The "grass" ninja.
  • Determinator: Itto again.
  • Died Standing Up: Both Itto and Retsudo.
  • Disposable Woman: Azami who?
  • Evil Versus Evil: Abe no Kaii versus Retsudo.
  • End of an Age: The story is set right as Japan's feudal era started breaking down. The rising merchant class and the ever-growing masses of unemployed samurai are minor recurring themes in the story. Frank Miller, who did some of the American cover art for Dark Horse, described the story as "a man, a boy, a country, and their journey into Hell."
  • Enemy Mine: Itto and Retsudo works together to stop a flood caused by Abe No Kaii.
  • Eyepatch of Power: After losing his eye to an arrow, the Big Bad spends the rest of the manga proving that the eyepatch may be an even more Badass accessory than the pram.
  • Frozen Face: one of the assassins sent after Ogami was a ninja trained to show no emotions at all.
  • Grand Finale: A seriously hardcore one that encompasses at least the last three books.
  • Harmful to Minors: Daigoro's childhood is traumatic even by manga standards.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Itto's blind quest for vengeance makes him suitable for this trope. Considering that he's willingly endangering his only child and is more concerned with avenging his tainted name than his murdered wife, he may arguably qualify as a Villain Protagonist.
  • High-Pressure Blood
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: The Yagyu clan are traditionally portrayed in both history and folklore as noble and brave and champions of the common people. On the other hand, they also had the reputation of founding one of the greatest swordfighting schools in Japan, were believed to have ties to ninja (if not ninja themselves), and were very close allies and servants of the ruling Tokugawa shoguns, so few other organizations in bakufu-era Japan would have been as big as a threat to Ogami Itto.
  • Invincible Hero: Itto goes up against somewhere between a few gangs to legendary warriors and even entire armies multiple times, and is rarely grievously injured. In a manga where there is hardly a chapter without at least one fight scene there is not much suspense for how it will finish.
  • It's Personal: The entire premise of the plot after Itto's wife is killed.
  • Kill'Em All: The only characters who survive the whole story are Daigoro and the shogun, and the shogun only survives because it would have messed up history.
    • Whether or not Daigoro survives the sequel remains to be seen.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: Both Daigoro and Itto show up in episode 22 of Samurai Champloo, and Daigoro makes another appearance in episode 24.
  • Little Miss Badass: Daigoro border-lines between being a male example of this trope and a Tyke Bomb . At the age of four he is already resourceful enough to manage without his father or other adults for days on end, capable of one-punching a kid twice his size and handle weapons (meagerly, but still...). He WILL engage groups of adults in combat despite overwhelming odds.
  • Master Poisoner: Abe no Kaii
  • Meta Casting: Abe Tanomo's appearance was based on actor Ryūnosuke Kaneda, who was later cast as Abe Tanomo in the 1976 TV series.
  • Missing Mom: Daigoro's mother has been killed before the start of the events. He never had any chance to spend time with female role-models; he does seem surprisingly well-adjusted, for the most part, with the only scary bit being the fact that he's picked up his daddy's Death Glare, a specific type of bone-chilling gaze that several samurai recognize as belonging to someone who has witnessed a lot of killing.
  • Morality Pet: A running theme in the novels is the fact that Daigoro keeps Itto from going too far over the edge when it comes to killing and becoming an outright Noble Demon; although with all the blood that's spilled, it makes one wonder what would happen if Daigoro wasn't there.
    • To be fair, Itto mostly kills the people he's paid to kill, or those who try to kill him first. Assuming Daigoro wasn't there, he would most likely go berserk and get killed rather quickly.
    • Also, subverted in the last chapter. Daigoro kills the big bad!
  • My Master, Right or Wrong
  • Ninja: The Yagyu have literally hundreds of them in their service. By the end of the manga, Itto has killed them all.
    • The Mole: About two hundred of the thousands of Yagyu soldiers are the "Kusa" -- "The Grass", deep-cover agents placed in each province of Japan to act as agents for the Yagyu. Retsudo is forced to summon them all back to the capital before the end.
  • Non-Action Guy: Abe no Kaii.
  • One-Man Army: Itto. Made quite obvious when opposing samurai consider it a fair fight to challenge him to a duel... using several units of mounted cavalery against Itto on foot.
    • Even more so in the final book where Retsudo actually needs to raise a whole army, complete with suicide bombers to soften up Itto enough to kill him (despite Itto already being critically wounded from a previous encounter). Itto still wipes out all of Retsudo's elite mooks before falling.
  • Only Six Faces: Goseki Kojima was an excellent artist who showed a lot of variation in his male characters, but for some reason every woman he draws looks exactly the same.
  • Papa Wolf: AND HOW! Interestingly, that's only on the rare occasion when Daigoro is in serious danger. Itto has no problem with putting his infant son in jeopardy to gain an advantage or set up a trap, and actually views him more as a partner than a boy needing protection. However, when Daigoro is in danger unrelated to their adventure, Itto tends to freak out and do crazy stunts to save him.
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: After crossing a narrow walkway over a mountain to get to a village where he was hired for a job, Itto has to fight a series of women trained to kill, the only people left in the village. He wins handily, and leaves. Then the bridge collapses out from under him. Turns out the actual bad guy who had hired him let him kill the women as part of his Batman Gambit just so he could sabotage the bridge, which would cover his tracks by killing Itto. Our heroes only narrowly survive.
    • Another example occurs when several different bounty hunters meet each other and decide to attack Itto as a group, knowing that any one of them trying it by themselves was a recipe for a horrible death. They're a motley group, even including an old woman who swallows and spits needles, but unfortunately the group tactic fails to avert the horrible death aspect of the operation.
  • Samurai: Though Daigoro and Itto are technically Ronin, they are pursued by Samurai (and the occasional horde of Ninja)for much of the plot.
  • Seppuku: Itto's original job was technically to serve as a second (kaishakunin) for feudal lords ordered to commit seppuku by the Shogunate. The second's role is to provide relief from the agony of seppuku in the form of removing the subject's head in one stroke if the act of seppuku is performed properly, but in the case of a lord, most samurai would be forbidden from performing that act. Itto's role as an official designate of the Shogun meant that he took lives at the will of the Shogun,
  • Static Character: Itto. He does undergo a little bit of development, but for the most part he's set apart by how rigid and secure in his convictions he is and not how he changes over time. Most of the development that occurs in the story happens to others; those who don't die horribly when coming into contact with Itto tend to leave changed by contact with Itto's personal presence.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Abe no Kaii.
  • Single-Stroke Battle
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: lampshaded, explained and justified. It works because he is perceived as a ronin/samurai with at least some shred of honor, which he is not (he's an assassin), thus catching his opponents completely off guard.
  • Trying to Catch Me Fighting Dirty: Itto exemplifies this trope. Whether it's using his own child as bait, holding somebody else's child hostage to persuade suicide, skewering a man mid-coitus (as well as the unfortunate woman he was bumping uglies with), cutting down pacifistic holy men or throwing his sword into somebody's face (see previous trope). Given the rigorous code of bushido, this is often cranked up to eleven in comparison. Usually followed by some mortally stricken foe yelling "WTF?!?... you can't DO that!!!" in total disbelief. Whereupon Itto flatly states that rules are for samurai and men... "having chosen the path of the demon (the road to hell), Daigoro and himself are excused from adhering to either".
  • Unconscious Objector: In the manga, Itto dies standing up while wrestling with Retsudo for a sword in the midst of their Duel to the Death. It gradually dawns on Retsudo that this has happened, so he lets go of the sword and steps of sword range. After a number of beat panels, Itto finally collapses.
  • Video Nasty: Shogun Assassin.
  • Weaponized Car: Or at least as close as you could get for that time and age. Daigoro's babycart is a rolling armory of concealed knives, spears, spring-loaded blades, a multi-bareled rifle and steel plated bottom (which works quite well as a bulletproof shield). The cart is profiled enough to nearly qualify as a third protagonist throughout the early series.
  • Women in Refrigerators: Almost every important woman in the story ends up being raped, murdered, or both -- in either order.
  • Worthy Opponent: Despite all the hate they have for each other, Itto and Retsudo do share a profound respect.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Played straight. The manga doesn't try to hide the fact that women of the era were viewed as inherently inferior to men. However, many named female characters break the mold of their station and when they do, prove to be just as heroic, villanous and/or dangerous as most men. Itto is Genre Savvy enough to recognize this. Not that he has any qualms about killing a defenseless woman for that matter... or defenseless man.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Played straight and subverted. Most of the villains casually commit atrocious acts of torture, mass murder and rape. Either joyfully or by sworn duty. However, nearly all of them draw their line at harming children. For this reason, villains are severely shocked upon realizing that Itto puts his own son in harms way to get a tactical advantage in a fight and commonly call him out on it.
    • Taken to it's extreme towards the end of the series, when Retsudo running out of troops call in a group of out-of-service, veteran ninja to take on Itto. After having studied their prey, the ninja deduce that they can kill Itto but will need to use a strategy which includes killing Daigoro as well. Noting how Itto and Daigoro are the appropriate age of the children and grandchildren they themselves could have had, they lament on their life of absolute servitude and decide to commit suicide rather than harm a child.
  • You Killed My Father
  • You Are Already Dead: Hired to kill a holy man, Itto slashes him down the center. Said holy man compliments him for a good minute before falling into two halves. Itto killed him this way because he couldn't bring himself to kill the man in a way that would cause pain.

Notes

  1. More like battlefield savvy. Or duel savvy. Or pretty much anything warfare-related savvy.
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