By Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima

Page count: 294 + a glossary, creator profiles, and Ronin Report about the history of the samurai
Publication date: 2000
Publisher: Dark Horse

The collection has nine stories which follow a similar pattern except for the last two.

Itto Ogami is a mysterious assassin for hire. He travels through Japan with his young son looking for lucrative assassin’s work. Often enough we don’t know at the start of the story who has hired him; it will be reveled during the story or at the end. Otherwise the stories are pretty straightforward: he finds his mark, often with trickery involving his son, and kills brutally him or her and the guards. The fight scenes are bloody and brutal. Often enough, his enemies make the fatal mistake of underestimating a man with a child or not considering them a threat at all.

The first stories establish his reputation and skills as an unbeatable swordsman. At the start of the first story we get some men gossiping about Itto Ogami’s past; how his wife had run off and left him with the child. Of course, there’s no way to know if the gossips are true.

The next clue about his background comes from the eight story and more is revealed in the final story. This is a very different storytelling techinque from the modern Western one which I’m used to. Usually, even if the hero/ine starts with a mysterious past, that past is revealed in the first book.

Itto Ogami is also different from the usual Western anti-heroes who usually have a soft heart and goes out of his way not to kill women, children, and pets. Itto Ogami has been hired to do a job and he will do it to the best of his ability. Only in one story does he do the job not in the way that his wicked employer had planned it, but in a way that saved lives from a faction Itto Ogami had some gratitude towards. He’s clearly interested in only what benefits himself and his son, and so he’s not a very sympathetic main character.

His son Daigoro is young but I can’t say for sure what his age is. He doesn’t talk much but he can walk and run, and even bow correctly. But in the last comic he can only crawl, not walk.

The art is in black and white, and it’s sometimes a bit hard to follow, especially during fight scenes. Sometimes during a dialogue the artist concentrates on the background or the people’s feet instead of their faces. Unfortunately, the book is such a small size that it’s sometimes hard to read the text.

The comic has a lot of violence and a rape scene.

My library has many books in this series but I’m not sure if I’ll continue with it. I’m not entirely sure how the storyline can continue because it seemed to me that he got his revenge in the final story.

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