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Film / Lone Wolf and Cub

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Lone Wolf and Cub, has been adapted into five feature length Jidaigeki films from 1972-1980 starring Tomisaburo Wakayama as the outlawed Samurai executioner Ogami Ito.

The story concluded in a 1973-76 TV series, also starring the movie cast.

In 1980, an 80-minute edit combining parts of the first two series installments was released for English-speaking audiences under the title Shogun Assassin.

Tropes include:

  • Adaptation Personality Change: Ito is still willing to bend the rules of Bushido and deceive his opponents, but he is generally portrayed as more heroic and honorable than in the comics.
  • An Arm and a Leg: In the fourth film Ito cuts off Gunbei's arm then subjects him to a Fate Worse than Death by refusing to kill him.
  • Anti-Villain: The gunfighter employed by the shogun as a bodyguard Wouldn't Hurt a Child.
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  • Armor Is Useless: The shogun's Mooks are easily taken out by Ito, although this could be due to his unique Cool Sword.
  • Asshole Victim: All of the people Ito assassinates in the movie have done bad things deserving of execution.
  • Badass and Baby: In the first two films, where Daigoro is either carried or pushed around in a Baby Carriage.
  • Badass and Child Duo: In later films, as an older Daigoro is able to participate in combat by throwing bombs.
  • Beard of Evil: Big Bad Yagyu Retsudo has a Fu Manchu style beard.
  • Berserk Button: The normally calm and quiet Ito will go full Papa Wolf if his baby is put in danger.
  • Blade on a Stick: As in the comics, the baby cart contains retractable spears.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Ito usually kills his enemies with a sword, but when facing a small army armed with muskets he decimates them with a volley gun concealed in the baby cart.
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  • Defeat by Modesty: Inverted. Oyuki stuns her opponents by flashing her breasts - and more importantly, the shocking tattoos thereon - at them.
  • Dragon Ascendant: Retsudo starts out as the shogun's Dragon with an Agenda, but becomes the main Big Bad in the second film.
  • End of an Era: The movies and comic book are set in the 1850s, with the rising merchant class beginning to supplant the samurai of the Tokugawa shogunate.
  • Everyone Is Related: The five films follow Ito's quest to kill every member of the shogun's family in revenge for the murder of his wife.
  • Every Japanese Sword is a Katana: Except for Ito's own sword, which is designed for executions rather than combat.
  • Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse: Ito is fundamentally sympathetic to Oyuki's desire to avenge her rape in Baby Cart In Peril, but he points out that her method of achieving it has resulted in whole families' worth of collateral damage - innocent victims who are fully justified in seeking vengeance on her. Her reaction makes it clear that she'd never considered this.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Retsudo's attempts to isolate his illegitimate son Shobei work far too well. After recalling Shobei to face Itto, Retsudo lies he intends to father a child on Shobei's sister Sayaka and send Shobei far away. When Shobei is mortally wounded, he forces himself on Sayaka to ensure Retsudo won't, to Retsudo's utter shock and horror. Retsudo reveals to the dead Shobei he intended only to ensure he remained in peace away from the Yagyu bloody legacy. It's a rare miscalculation from the old man.
  • Good Is Old-Fashioned: Mid 19th century Feudal Japan is beginning to show signs of modernization, but being Samurai both Ito and his enemies uphold the Good Old Ways of Honor Before Reason.
  • The Gunslinger: Ito fights a Samurai Cowboy in the third movie, and steals his Cool Guns.
  • Guns Are Useless: The gunfighter leaves his revolvers on the bank when trying to save Daigoro from drowning. This enables Ito to take them, and kill his opponent in a swordfight.
    • Averted as a general rule. Throughout the series, guns are treated as a very serious threat and one of the few things Ito can't overcome with his swordsmanship. Whenever they come into play, he seeks to neutralize them as quickly as possible.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: Ito wields an unusually large and heavy katana designed for beheading Seppuku victims.
  • Honor Before Reason: EVERYWHERE. Valuable people with irreplaceable skills are regularly sacrificed just to make a point; people achieve great success only to be punished instead of rewarded because they broke some minor point of protocol; shockingly minor points of honor are worth the lives of whole families. As much as the Samurai characters may mourn the passing of the Good Old Ways, it's not hard to understand why this ethic is dying.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: As expected in a movie about a samurai and his son Wandering the Earth
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Retsudo reveals he is Daigoro's grandfather before he dies. It remains unknown whether he was the father of Ito or his wife.
  • Missing Episode: The second episode of the television series was removed from various collections and not rebroadcast. It's not exactly clear why, but the reigning theory is that since the episode deals with the gomune (an 'untouchable caste' in ancient Japan which would later become the burakumin), it may have been removed for political reasons.
  • Noble Demon: The Rōnin Gunbei sees Ito as a Worthy Opponent.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Retsudo by the end of the manga has lost his prestige, his followers, his clan and all his children. He's victorious against Itto but ultimately he's lost everything and sheds final tears when he recalls his kids.
  • Samurai in Ninja Town: When Ito passes through Retsudo's turf to assassinate his targets, Retsudo's own Ninja assassins are waiting to ambush him.
  • The Story Teller: In the first film the baby is the narrator.
  • Two Roads Before You: Ito presents his infant son with this, even though he knows Daigoro is too young to understand his choice.
    Ogami: I have decided to escape, to defy the Shogun. Today I will begin walking the Road to Hell, but you must choose your own path. (picks up a ball and sword) So, soon you may be seeing Heaven. Choose the sword, and you will join me. Choose the ball, and you join your mother in death. You don't understand my words, but you must choose.
  • You Killed My Father: Ito wants revenge for the killing of his family on Retsudo's orders.
  • The Vamp: Oyuki is a tattooed Yakuza assassin who seduces and murders her enemies, and dishonors their corpses by cutting off their topknots.
  • White Hair, Black Heart: Retsudo, being an evil old man.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The opening scene of the very first movie shows that the Shogun has ordered the execution of a daimyo that can't be older than five.

Alternative Title(s): Shogun Assassin, Lone Wolf And Cub