Characters / Lone Wolf and Cub

The legendary samurai epic by Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima has a blood spilling cast:

Ogami Itto

The former executioner of the Shogun. Was framed by Retsudo of the Yagyu Clan and sentenced to die. Instead, Itto takes his son Daigoro with him on a quest to avenge themselves against the Yagyu.

  • Anti-Hero
  • Assassin Outclassin': Does a whole lot of outclassing. It takes the entire series and every last resource Retsudo has for him to finally be outclassed.
  • Best Served Cold
  • Carpet of Virility
  • Catch-Phrase
  • Combat Pragmatist - And how!
  • Consummate Professional - Itto will frequently ask for the 'why' of the job that he's taking on before deciding to take it though. Not so much out of moral concerns as because he wants to know exactly who is going to be upset with him.
  • Crusading Widower
  • Death Glare
  • Determinator
  • Family Honor
  • Hitman with a Heart: Subverted. While Itto has a deeply compassionate side, especially for people who are in straits similar to his own, he is still a ruthless assassin. So long as his conditions (five-hundred ryo and explaining the reason behind the assassination) are met, he will carry out his contract, even if the target is practically a living saint. He only refuses under very particular circumstances.
    • In only one circumstance will Itto refuse to carry out an assassination, even if his client can pay the requisite fee. Namely, an adauchi, which is a vendetta where the relatives of a murdered samurai seek vengeance on the killer. As Itto explains to the son and daughter of a murdered samurai, he cannot interfere in an adauchi since it's the victim's relatives who have to kill the murderer of their loved one. Who in this case is a powerful crime-lord in Edo with hundreds of minions. However, Itto points out to the children that they can hire him to kill the crime-lord's sub-commanders, which will goad him out of safety and into a very favourable kill-zone for the vengeful children...
    • He also refuses to take payment in the following circumstances: 1) He does not take the katana of an impoverished ronin, since the blade is a samurai's soul, 2) He will not take payment in an assassination involving the loyal retainer of a daimyo that Itto executed as Kogi Kaishakunin, since Itto considers the situation to be the result of fate, and 3) When Itto is hired by impoverished peasants who have no coin, Itto settles the problem by saying that each grain of the rice that the peasants have so pain-stakingly cultivated must be worth a ryo, so he will carry out his task in exchange for eating a bowl of rice.
  • Ideal Hero - Itto impresses everyone with his nobility, dedication and honourability.
  • I Gave My Word
  • Implacable Man: Once Itto solves the secret of the Yagyu Letters, he makes for Edo. At the same time, Retsudo has basically set a massive bounty on his head and publicly proclaimed him a criminal. The daimyos muster their entire armies against Itto and, in general, treat his movements as though he were an advancing army. Absolutely nothing stops him.
  • In Harm's Way - Itto frequently does this even if it doesn't involve pay, because it's the right thing to do.
  • One-Man Army - Invoked almost word for word In-Universe. One samurai makes it a point to face his former sensei with nothing less than fully armored, mounted samurai.
  • Papa Wolf
  • Professional Killer
  • Revenge Before Reason: Itto fully acknowledges this, knowingly dispensing with his samurai honor for the sake of taking revenge on Retsudo and the Yagyu. He plies his skills as an assassin. If it serves his purpose, there is no tactic he won't use, no trick he won't resort to. He'll use any means at his disposal, even his own son, to get the upper hand. That said, there are some lines that even he won't cross.
  • Ronin
  • The Stoic
  • Villain Protagonist: Itto skirts the very edge. He doesn't go out of the way to be cruel or malicious, but he's not worried about the morality of the contracts he accepts, and isn't inclined to help anyone who isn't paying him. And of course he utilizes his son for his assassination jobs, putting the boy into ludicrously dangerous situations. As Itto explains to anyone who asks, since he and his son walk the Path of meifumado ("The Road to Hell"), they are beyond conventional human notions of normality and morality.
  • Walking the Earth - Or more specifically, feudal Japan.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Kills more than a few in his quest for revenge, including Retsudo's illegitimate daughter.
  • Would Hurt a Child: A rare non-villainous example. To him, opponents are opponents, no matter their age.


Itto's three-year-old son, who accompanies his father on their wanderings upon the assassin's road. In spite of his age, Daigoro often serves as an asset during many of Itto's assassinations, prompting opponents to lower their guard or even restrain their own efforts to avoid hurting the child.

  • Badass Adorable - People remark about how cute Daigoro is a lot. He helps his father kill people. Crosses into Killer Rabbit on a few rare occasions.
  • Cheerful Child
  • Consummate Professional - Daigoro learned from the best, after all.
  • Creepy Child - invoked in-universe.
  • Dark and Troubled Past
  • Death Glare - why cute lil' Daigoro is frequently described as creepy
  • False Innocence Trick
  • Family Honor
  • I Gave My Word
  • In Harm's Way - Follows his father's example.
  • Kid Samurai - Daigoro is frequently remarked to be a very good one.
  • Morality Pet
  • Ronin
  • Wise Beyond Their Years - Daigoro's a very mature little four year old. Itto's a good parent if anyone is to judge by how well behaved and intelligent this four year old is. There's even a storyline that focuses on how different Daigoro is from other children.
    • In some ways, Daigoro is considered to be his father's equal, if not outright superior. He has often been described as having the Shisogan or "The eyes of a swordsman able to place his heart in the nothingness of Mu," an attribute many lesser swordsmen throughout the story aspire to. And Daigoro has them at the tender age of three.

Yagyu Retsudo

The head of the Ura Yagyu, the Shogun's assassins. Retsudo uses his position to secretly control the Shogunate from the shadows. In order to assume more complete control, he schemed to acquire Itto's position by disgracing him and his clan, which Retsudo succeeds in. In spite of his scheming nature, Retsudo is a master swordsman and Itto's only true equal throughout the series. He is also a master strategist and is skilled at several ninja tactics as well.

  • Arch-Enemy
  • Badass Beard: Retsudo sports one that Santa Claus would approve of.
  • Badass Grandpa: Not literally, though. No doubt he would have become this if his ambition hadn't ultimately led to the deaths of every single one of his children. Though he calls Daigoro the grandson of his heart at the end.
  • Big Bad
  • Big Ol' Eyebrows
  • Enemy Mine
  • Eyepatch of Power
  • I Gave My Word
  • Noble Demon: Retsudo is a scheming and shadowy man driven by ambition, envy, and greed, but he is also a bushi, and holds himself to certain standards of honorable conduct. In the end, he and his enemy are both relics of the dying age of the samurai, doomed to be washed away by time.
  • The Spymaster

Abe no Kaii

The Shogun's kuchiyaku (food taster), who is personally responsible for inspecting the food that is served to the Shogun for any sign of poison. Because of this, Abe no Kaii is an expert on poisons and, thus, an expert on poisoning others. He is assigned to help Retsudo kill Itto by the Shogun, but secretly schemes behind their backs to kill both Itto and Retsudo thus allowing him to become the force controlling the Shogunate behind the scenes. Unlike Retsudo, who is at least a Bushi and holds himself to certain standards of honor, Abe no Kaii holds nothing but disdain for the warrior code and will stoop to use any tactics to get what he wants and is also a gutless coward who always thinks of himself first.

  • Alas, Poor Villain
  • Bald of Evil
  • Dark and Troubled Past: His paternity is uncertain due to the fact that around the time he was conceived his mother went mad and ran away, coming back twenty days later, "reeking of many men." As a result, his father Abe Genmotsu, the previous kuchiyaku to the Shogun, treated him coldly, never being sure if Kaii really was his son. Kaii's mother never recovered, and spent the rest of her days in a locked room in constant sexual heat, pleasuring herself. As if all this weren't bad enough, Genmotsu subjected his son to a training from hell, forcing Kaii to always carefully inspect his food, drink and bowl lest he suffer a painful poisoning. With all of this, it is small wonder that he ended up a self-made orphan.
  • Dirty Coward: He runs and screams in terror at the drop of a hat and is deemed by both Itto and Retsudo to be too pathetic to be worth killing. This lasts all the way up until Retsudo successfully disgraces him by burning the kitchens of the Shogun's castle, which results in Kaii being sentenced to seppuku. He's so terrified at the thought of cutting his own stomach that he initially tried to spare himself the pain by swallowing his own poison, but is too cowardly to even do that. However, he manages to subvert the trope at the last moment by graciously accepting Itto as a kaishakunin.
  • Foil: To both Ogami and Retsudo.
  • Gonk: As close as this series gets to it. He's fat and ugly, complete with puffy lips and sadistic leer that he throws around at everyone.
  • The Hedonist: Abuses his position and uses his mastery over drugs to enslave several women, who he then forces to have sex with him on a regular basis. He otherwise tries to live it up in whatever way he can.
  • Non-Action Guy
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain
  • Master Poisoner
  • Self-Made Orphan: How he became the Shogun's new kuchiyaku.
  • Spanner in the Works: A massive one for the final arc. He forces Itto and Retsudo to postpone their final reckoning no fewer than three times. First, he forces an end to Itto's battle with Retsudo and his Yagyu army by triggering a massive flood through Edo that forces Itto to sacrifice the arsenal of bombs he'd bought using his assassination fees in order to create a makeshift dam. The second time, he finds Itto's and Retsudo's swords, which they'd left behind, and coats them with poison, forcing them to put off their final duel yet again. Then, he steals the Yagyu Letter from Itto and Daigoro and brings it to the Shogun, which leads to Retsudo being imprisoned, forcing him and Itto to postpone their duel again. It also gives Retsudo reason and time to call in all his Kusa, which ultimately results in Itto's death.
  • Squick: Practically oozes this trope. At one point, he decides that he's thirsty, but there's no well or other source of water nearby. So he orders his female companion to pee so that he can drink her urine instead. Later on, when he's waiting at a temple for Retsudo to arrive, Kai pretends to hang himself so that Retsudo won't kill him. But, in the process of waiting, he ends up urinating while hanging, then he gets hungry, so he climbs down to get something to eat. While doing that, he reasons that, since urine is salty, it'll make a good seasoning for rice. So he decides to make himself rolling the rice in the piss that was already on the floor. Seriously, this guy is disgusting.