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[Art/Culture] Lone Wolf and Cub

An introduction to the sword slashing cult classic Japanese samurai manga & film series, banned in the UK upon its release.

Lone Wolf and Cub was originally a manga created by writer Kazuo Koike & manga artist Goseki Kojima published in 1970. It sold over 8 million copies and is widely regarded as one of the greatest works of Japanese manga.

The epic story chronicles the life of Ogami Ittō, a legendary swordsman who is the Shogun's (ruler) executioner and uses the deadly adōtanukibattle sword. Disgraced by false accusations from the Yagyū clan, he is forced to escape and take the path of the wanderer after his wife is killed by ninjas. With three-year-old son, Daigorō, they seek revenge on the Yagyū clan as they are hunted along the way by assassins hired by the Shogun.

The graphic novel was adapted into a series of 6 films made between 1972 & 1974. Adapted for a western audience as SHOGUN ASSASSIN in 1980, it was banned upon the release for violent graphic depictions of decapitation and brutally violent sword fighting battle scenes set in Tokugawa era Japan.

The epic balances acts of conflict with apt reflections on the Bushido code of honour, heavily nostalgic of the Samurai way of life and the old traditions during the 1600-1800's, breaking up violence with moments of serenity and reflection as Ogami Ittō travels through Japan and it's beauty along the way.

Quentin Tarantino is a famous admirer of the Lone Wolf & Cub series, citing it as a huge influence on his classic Kill Bill. There's even an easter egg in the film for those who pay close attention, as during once scene in Kill Bill 2 the characters watch Lone Wolf and Cub on TV. Star Wars creator George Lucas also cited Japanese samurai films as inspiring him, with the 2019 spin off series, The Mandalorian, featuring a Lone Wolf and Cub inspired narrative of a rogue bounty hunter protecting a young creature as they are hunted down.

Shogun Assassin was famously sampled in GZA's album Liquid Swords, becoming a trademark sample that inspired an era of WU TANG hip hop.

Below WU TANG's RZA discusses the importance and influence that Kung Fu & Samurai films including Lone Wolf & Cub had on the style of the group.

There is no doubt that this iconic series has had an enduring legacy and cemented its place as a cult classic, a testimony to the legacy of Japanese manga and our innate fascination with ancient combat and deathly duels.

Musician ThunderCat famously paid direct homage to the legacy of LWAC....

Iconic AdultSwim cartoon Rick & Morty also replicated a scene from the movie in their brilliant animated style, another example of how Lone Wolf and Cub has infiltrated popular culture through a cult following and fanbase.

We hope you enjoyed this brief introduction to Lone Wolf and Cub. Be sure to watch either the original extended Japanese series or the film version 'Shogun Assassin', get your pop corn in and enjoy the blood bath...

Check out this collection of Lone Wolf & Cub original film artwork posters:



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