In this translated collection of Lone Wolf and Cub, we get to read 11 wonderful stories. The first, “White Path Between the Rivers,” tells the origin story of Ogami IttÅ. A Samurai who was once the trusted Executioner of the Shogun, but through a set up and betrayed by another family, causing his family to be killed, becomes a Ronin, traveling Japan with his three year old son, DaigorÅ. Together, they seek revenge on the family that disgraced them and to reestablish his Clan.
Lone Wolf and Cub is a well known series known for not only telling wonderful stories but also being very faithful to the depiction of Edo Period Japan. This is maintained in this translation and reissue. Not all words are translated to better keep the feel and a glossary is at the back of the book. It also gives historical snippets where appropriate to help give context to the story.
This is shown best in the story “The Virgin and the Whore.” Telling the story of a young woman sold into a brothel by her impoverished parents. She runs into Ogami IttÅ and DaigorÅ’s room after killing the man who was transporting her when he attacked her. He strikes a deal, taking on the punishment of a prostitute in order to gain her freedom. During the story we the readers learn not only how brothels were populated and ran, but how punishments were handled. We also see what kind of man Ogami IttÅ truly is.
What is one of the most beautiful stories, “Parting Frost” helps to tell the story of DaigorÅ. A three year old child, whose self sufficiency and proper behavior has already been established in other stories. This though shows how mature and otherworldly the child is. Often there is references about his connection to not only his father but to death itself making him unique. This story explores this, showing the true capacity of the child while never losing the frailty of his youth.
The stories in this collection are so well written it is easy to want to read them again and again. But what truly makes it is the art. Beautiful and flowing, many frames are works of art. So much of the stories is told without words and purely through the art and having the level of detail while maintaining the feel of the time period is truly an accomplishment unto itself. Coupling it with such compelling stories makes it a masterpiece.
The Lone Wolf and Cub Omnibus, Vol. 2 is a good place to start if you are unaware of the property. It gives enough back story to understand the characters while exposing the reader to amazing stories. The art alone is worth the read. It definitely makes you want to continue reading, even after you have finished the over 700 page book.