Review: “New Lone Wolf & Cub Vol. 1” by Kazuo Koike and Hideki Mori

Review of "New Lone Wolf & Cub Volume 1" by Kazuo Koike and Hideki Mori

A review by Hannah.

This is the sequel to the 1970s manga masterpiece Lone Wolf & Cub. There are 28 volumes of the original work and I have not read any of them. There are currently 8 volumes of New Wolf & Cub available to read in English.

After Oogami Ittou and his rival Yagyuu Retsudou kill each other, their bodies are left in the middle of the road for fear of the political repercussions. Young Daigoro, son of Oogami, has been left to guard his father’s body and survive on his own. Luckily for the child, Tougou Shigekata, a samurai of supreme skills, is not afraid to take Daigoro under his wings. Soon the two are smack dab in the middle of a plot orchestrated by the Hattori clan. Will these two survive?

This is a pretty easy manga to get into, but it does rely heavily on the original Lone Wolf & Cub at first. The death fight was witnessed by many important people, but the bodies were left on the road and a child abandoned to the elements because of what happened in the original story.

Daigoro appears to be about 3 or 4. He doesn’t say much, but his body language speaks volumes. He trusts no one, smiles rarely, and can dodge melee attacks like a seasoned pro. He is a strange and quiet child. Clearly, he became this way during the original Lone Wolf and Cub.

Tougou is an odd duck of a samurai. He knows exactly who Daigoro is, laughs whenever he is in danger and speaks in a Satsuma dialect. There are words he uses that don’t have a direct translation to English, but that’s okay because they don’t have a direct translation to Japanese either. The fact that he is from the Satsuma region is very important for the story.

The artwork of this manga is incredibly detailed. The few color pages are done with a watercolor effect that looks simple but elegant. The rest of the book is in black, white, and a few shades of gray.

I appreciate the way Dark Horse translated this story. For any words that didn’t translate directly into English, they kept it Japanese. For Tougou they kept everyday Satsuma words in his conversation, to show the difference between the way he spoke and the way everyone else did. They also did their best to translate accents to the English (language not country) equivalent. One of my biggest pet peeves with translations is when they try to force an English definition for a word that isn’t quite right. For example, reading “Yamamoto teacher” instead of “Yamamoto sensei.”

I am going to continue reading this story. First though, I’m going to go back and read the original Lone Wolf & Cub.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

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Review: “One Piece: East Blue Vol. 1-12” by Eiichiro Oda

 


A review by Hannah.

One Piece was started in 1997 and is continuing today. There are 81 volumes to date, which is why I’m breaking the manga down into story arcs for the review.

Luffy D. Monkey ate the Gomu (Rubber) Gomu Fruit as a child. The good news is now his entire body is rubber. The bad news is that he sinks like a hammer whenever he is in water. Luffy has a dream to be the future Pirate King and he is just getting his crew together. This story arc covers the gathering of the first five crew members and a ship to sail them onto the Grand Line.

Pirate Hunter Zoro Roronoa, creator of the Santoryuu (Three Sword Style) is the first to be recruited. Then they meet Nami, a cat burglar and talented navigator who hates pirates. Next, they collect Captain Usopp, an accomplished liar and sharpshooter, and their new ship The Merry Go. Finally, they collect Sanji, the chef and “ladies man.” Together they will face Marines, both upstanding and corrupt, other pirates, and Fish Men(an amphibious race of fish/human hybrids).

This is a ridiculous world, full of ridiculous people and ridiculous situations. This is exactly what Eiichiro Oda wanted when he started this epic tale. There is a lot of slapstick humor, tons of puns, and some truly satisfying sucker punches. Paired with the hilarity are moments of profound tragedy. Each crew member has experienced pain and loss, which helps to shape them into the wonderful crew of the future Pirate King that they are. I laughed and cried many times while reading this story arc.

Translation-wise, this is rough. I cringe when I read lines like “Gum Gum Pistol.” I really wish that they had stayed with “Gomu Gomu” or changed it to “Rubber Rubber.” The way they went about it feels half-assed and I don’t appreciate it. Later in the series, it gets better. But for these twelve volumes it’s pretty bad.

The artwork is ridiculous in a good way. Everyone seems to have skinny necks, big heads, and prominent eyes and ears. This does not detract from the story. Because it was created to be ridiculous, I feel that the odd proportions add an extra layer of fun to the story. It’s not always pretty, but it’s effective.

My rating: 3.5/5 stars.

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