Chanbara fans have a lot to look forward to next Tuesday, when we welcome the six-part film adaptation of Kazuo Koike’s best-selling 1970 manga epic Lone Wolf and Cub into the collection. Released between 1972 and 1974, these blood-spattered classics are renowned for combining stylishly choreographed set pieces with a sensitive depiction of the bonds between father and son. At the heart of this sprawling saga is a shogun’s executioner named Itto Ogami (Tomisaburo Wakayama), who sets off on a mission to avenge the murder of his wife, with his infant son Daigoro (Akihiro Tomikawa) and a weaponized baby carriage in tow. Recent reports of an upcoming Hollywood remake are already generating buzz, so the time is ripe to dive into one of Japanese cinema’s most influential samurai series.
Among the many illuminating features in our box-set edition of Lone Wolf and Cub is a new interview with Koike, who wrote the screenplays for five of the films. In the clip below, the author discusses the challenge of crafting a samurai hero with a compelling mix of strengths and weaknesses that can sustain interest in a long serial narrative.