fantasy and science fiction book reviewsLone Wolf and Cub (Vol. 5): Black Wind by Kazuo Koike

BlLONE WOLF AND CUB VOL 5ack Wind, Volume 5 of the Lone Wolf and Cub, series does some good work in moving forward the main story arc by giving us further insights into the events that brought about the downfall of the Ogami clan especially in regards to the motivations of the insidious Yagyu clan. It’s always interesting in these stories to see how Ogami is both something of a selfless hero and at the same time a remorseless killer truly willing to follow the ‘demon’s road’ of Meifumado and abjure normal human feelings and values no matter their cost to himself and others. On the one hand, he is a man of honour willing to undergo severe trials in order to remain true to his obligations and pay his debts, yet at the same time he is a remorseless killer willing to follow his contracts to the bitter end whose ways are often incomprehensible when viewed through the lens of ‘normal’ human relations and expectations.

“Trail Markers”: The Yagyu clan, masters of the ninjas of the Shogunate and perpetrators of the destruction of Ogami’s clan, discover the way in which Lone Wolf communicates with his prospective clients and make use of it in order to lure him into a confrontation with one of their greatest warriors. More is learned about the whys and wherefores of Ogami’s fall and the motivations of the Yagyu and Lone Wolf proves to still have a surprise or two up his sleeve.

“Executioner’s Hill”: Six down on their luck bounty hunters come across Lone Wolf and Cub in their wanderings and realize who they have seen. Their leader, who has a connection to the former Kogi Kaishakunin, hatches a plot to abduct Daigoro in order to extort the huge sums of money that Lone Wolf is said to be hoarding from his assassinations. Of course Ogami does not act according to their expectations and a bloody battle ensues.

lone wolf black wind“Black Wind”: Ogami is found helping a group of peasants in their rice field planting at a time when all of the men of their village have been conscripted into building levees to help prevent the seasonal floods from destroying their crops. This is an unheard of thing for a man of the samurai class and many of the villagers wonder what could have stirred him to perform such a menial and degrading task. When the local authorities discover another able-bodied man they could make use of, they try and conscript Ogami for the levee building as well. He is less than willing to help them and we discover the lengths to which he is willing to go to complete his ‘quest’ of planting as well as the tragic motivations behind it.

“Decapitator Asaemon”: The man entrusted with testing the edge and quality of the Shogun’s newly forged swords is approached by his masters as one of the few men in Japan with the requisite skill to kill Ogami Itto. Afraid of the waves that the ongoing feud between the former Kogi Kaishakunin and the powerful Yagyu clan are sure to cause in the rule of the Shogunate they dispatch him on an errand of death and the Yagyu see an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. In his duel with this skilled and honourable enemy Ogami comes to appreciate the depths to which the Yagyu will stoop in their efforts to destroy him.

“The Guns of Sakai”: The arms race is on. The age of the gun has arrived on the shores of Japan and the most brilliant gunsmith of the Tokugawa era is targeted for death due to his unwillingness to share his innovative new designs with his peers. When Lone Wolf tracks down his mark he discovers the reasons behind the man’s reticence and makes a promise to him that will perhaps further his own quest for vengeance . . . but of course not before he must deal with the double-dealing efforts of his clients once again.


  • Terry Lago

    TERRY LAGO, one of our regular guest reviewers, is a Torontonian who, like all arts students, now works in the IT field. He has been a fan of fantasy ever since being introduced to Tolkien by his older brother when he was only a wee lad, though he has since branched out to enjoy all spectrums of the Fantasy genre and quite a few of the science fiction one as well. Literary prose linked with well-drawn characters are the things he most looks for in a book. You can see what he's currently reading at his Goodreads page.