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Transcultural Reinterpretation of the 'Lone Wolf and Cub' Narrative
In the "Kozure Okami" ("Lone Wolf and Cub") manga and its adaptations, Ogami Itto and his infant son Daigoro are the only survivors of a family slaughtered by a power-seeking rival. Itto is presented as the ideal of the samurai who seeks to pass these qualities on to his son. The relationship between father and son serves to set the Lone Wolf and Cub narrative apart from the many other stories of vengeance-seeking ronin, but it also acts to underline the theme of the manga, which condemns the lingering effects of feudal society upon modern Japan. This narrative was adapted a number of times for Japanese film and television, with American translations and transformations of the manga and these adaptations introducing differing interpretations of the characters, setting and narrative, both subtle and less subtle. The narrative and characters have alse inspired two American print graphic narratives, "Lone Wolf and Cub 2100" and "Road to Perdition", with the latter being translated again into an American film. Theses versions of the narrative present a more hopeful ending, suggesting that the violence has acted as a purge of problems from the past and present and particularly separating the child from the violence. This paper examines the differences between these narratives, particularly their treatment of the lead characters and their approach to the presence or absence of hope for the future at the end of the narrative. It considers these in relation to differing understandings of audience and popular narrative, considering what this tells us about broader cultural difference.