Creator Spotlight: Kazuo Koike (

By:Niko Silvester
Date: Wednesday, March 02, 2011


 Kazuo Koike’s Stats
Name in English: Kazuo Koike
Name in Japanese: 池 '夫  (Koike Kazuo)
Birth Date: 08 May 1936
Birthplace: Daisen, Akita Prefecture, Japan
Sex: Male
Who is Kazuo Koike?
Kazuo Koike is a writer who has created a number of iconic manga series in his long career. He studied under Golgo 13 creator Takao Saito (and ghostwrote for that series) and in turn taught many renowned mangaka in his Gekiga Sonjuku -- a college course designed to train manga creators. Among those who studied with Koike are Rumiko Takahashi (Maison Ikkoku, InuYasha, Rin-ne), Hideyuki Kikuchi (Vampire Hunter D) and Tetsuo Hara (Fist of the North Star). He has also been a professor at Osaka College of Art. 
Although he has worked with a variety of artists, Kazuo Koike has collaborated most extensively with Goseki Kojima, who provided art for such seminal works as Lone Wolf and CubSamurai Executioner, and  Lady Snowblood
Though much of his manga work is action-oriented and violent, Koike has also tackled other genres and among his oeuvre are found manga about golf and mahjongg -- both games that he has played himself (professionally, in the case of mahjongg). 
He is the founder of publishing firm Koike Shoin, and in addition to manga, Koike has also written fiction, poetry and screenplays -- he worked on the screenplays for the Baby Cart Assassin live action movies based on his Lone Wolf and Cub manga, for example. He has been a television host (Shibi Golf Weekly) and a movie producer, and even founded a golf magazine (Albatross View). 
Lone Wolf and Cub garnered numerous awards over the years and in 2004, Kazuo Koike won an Eisner Hall of Fame award for his contributions to the comics medium.
Kazuo Koike’s Work
Kazuo Koike’s bibliography is long, and even just the works published in English are considerable. The long-running Lone Wolf and Cubseries (the work for which he is probably best known), began in Japan in 1970 as a serial in Manga Action magazine and is now complete at 28 300+-page volumes. It first appeared English in 1987, published by First Comics which went out of business without completing the series. Dark Horse published English-language editions between 2000 and 2002 and all of the volumes are still in print.  
Dark Horse also published some of Koike’s other work, such as Samurai Executioner (10 volumes, 2004-2006) and Lady Snowblood (4 volumes, 2005-2006). Path of the Assassin saw an English-language publication (also from Dark Horse) in 15 volumes (2006-2009). 
Viz published an English version of Crying Freeman, first as individual comics, and then as a graphic novel series. These editions are long out of print, but Dark Horse republished it in 2006-2007 in five volumes.  
All of the above series were illustrated by Goseki Kojima, but Koike did work with other illustrators. Offered, a two-volume series of graphic violence and sex illustrated by Ryoichi Ikegami, saw an English translation published by ComicsOne in 2001. The same publisher also put out Koike and Ikegami’s 10-volume Wounded Man series. Both of these are out of print.
Kazuo Koike Anime  and Film
Not surprisingly, some of Kazuo Koike’s manga made the transition to anime. The first was the 6-part 1988 OVA of Crying Freeman that got a US release, and another was Mad Bull 34, an NYPD cop comic that was adapted as a 4-part OVA between 1990 and 1992, but didn’t get an English version. 
Koike’s Lone Wolf and Cub manga was adapted into a series of 6 live-action films called the Sword of Vengeance series or the Baby Cart Assassin series (1972-1974) -- for which Koike himself worked on the screenplays -- as well as four plays and a television series. These movies have been released on Region 1 DVD with subtitles, and two of them -- one a compilation of the first and second films -- were released in the US as Shogun Assassin and Shogun Assassin 2
Koike also worked on the screenplay for the live-action Lady Snowblood film (1973). Lady Snowblood was followed up with a sequel (Lady Snowblood 2: Love Song of Vengeance, 1974) and was also the basis for the movie Princess Blade (2001), though the latter has a science fiction setting.  
Crying Freeman was also adapted to live-action film: three times. Two were made in Hong Kong and one was an English-language movie made in Canada.