Summary: Simple Complexity
Comment: These elegant short stories are deceptive. On the surface hardly anything seems to "happen" in each "episode" other than a sword fight or two. Actually there is a LOT going on. Koike is in touch with humanity in ways many of us never will be.
Lone Wolf & Cub artwork is anything but simple. These stories are CARRIED by the masterful drawings. I am constantly amazed.
The main storyline continues to build from volumes 1 to 3. I highly recommend ALL FOUR books, and I also suggest you read them in order.
Summary: Another Amazing Volume!
Comment: I've been so blown away by the work Kazuo Koike & Goseki Kojima
that I decided to wait until the entire series was released to finish reading it. After the first three volumes, I didn't really believe they could keep up the same level of quality, and it turns out I was right.
Volume 4 blows the previous three away.
It's worth reading just for the heartbreaking Daigoro solo story, "Parting Frost", where the toddler sets out in search of his father and makes a very powerful enemy of his own. The other three stories are nothing to sneeze at either, and in addition to great entertainment, the creators also provide some important lessons about the history and culture of Japan in pain-free ways that don't even give you time to realize you've been learning; Perfect for Gaijin's like me!
I can't imagine how this series can possibly get any better. Stay tuned.....
Summary: The unforgettable "Parting Frost" story of Daigoro
Comment: This fourth volume in the manga epic "Lone Wolf & Cub" manages to transcend the previous volumes. Kazuo Koike's stories not only continues to mine the history of Edo-period Japan for fascinating narrative settings and details, but Goseki Kojima continues to try different art styles dependent on the story being told. This volume offers up the next four stories of Ogami Itto's journey along the Assassin's Road:
(20) "The Bell Warden" gives its title to the volume, but it is the third best story in the volume. The current bell warden of the capital's nine bells wants the assassin to cut off the right arm of his three successors as a test. Each of the three is an expert with a different weapon, but also weapons that are different from anything we have seen to date. (This volume's "Ronin Report" essay by Tim Ervin-Gore in the back is "Weapons Glossary: Part One," which helps to explain more about these weapons). This story becomes a series of three fights, albeit unlike what we are used to it the series.
(21) "Unfaithful Retainers" sets the tone for the other three stories in this volume in which Ogami Itto becomes something of a secondary character for most of the story. This tale involves the new class of Orisuke that arose during this period to serve samurai families without sharing the values of samurai society. The assassin has a mission regarding the Orisuke, but when he encounters two young girls about to kill themselves. Curious about what they would do so, he listens to their story and then comes up with a startling suggestion. The climax involves another one of Lone Wolf's complex strategems to put his prey where he wants him.
(22) "Parting Frost" is the most unforgettable story in this volume. Left to wait patiently for the return of his father, Daigoro has run out of food and decides to search for Lone Wolf. Going to a Buddhist temple because his father often meditates at such place, Daigoro finds a samurai who is stunned to see "Shishogan," the eyes of a swordman alive in the moment between life and death (i.e., Ogami's eyes). Seeking to solve the mystery of how such eyes could belong to a child, the samurai observe Daigoro's actions. A stunning story, totally unforgettable. But this is only Volume 4 and the thought that there are stories down the road that might be better than this one is mind-blowing. But every time I think I have read the best "Lone Wolf and Cub" story, there is one even better in the next volume. Daigoro says little, but Koike shares with us the child's thoughts and we discover what he has learned from watching his father. A fascinating character study made all the more poignant by Daigoro's ability to remain in some ways a child, despite all he has seen and endured.
(23) "Perfomer" offers an intriguing mystery regarding a woman whose body is tatooed in a most eye-catching way. The woman also happens to be an expert sword fighting and apparently the next target of Assassin Lone Wolf and Cub. But once again, there is more to meet the eye regarding this situation. These stories started off with a key element being the brilliant strategems by which the Assassin gained access to his victim. But by this point in the epic the situations are becoming equally complex as Koike and Kojima take their stories to the next level. This is the second best story in this volume, which continues the amazing progression that each is superior to its predecessor.
I continue to read these stories, one a night before going to sleep. These stories live up to their well deserved reputation as one of the great efforts in the history of comics.
Summary: A great manga to collect
Comment: I just love these mangas of Itto Ogami and his son. I use to collect the old comics that First Comic published, then I heard that Dark horse was republishing them So I just had to get it. These books are suggested for mature readers only because they have some sex, lots of violence, and bad language. But it perfectly shows feudal Japan in the Edo state.