Lady Snowblood (manga)
The cover of Vol. 1 of the Dark Horse Comics version.
|Written by||Kazuo Koike|
|Illustrated by||Kazuo Kamimura|
|Original run||1972 – 1973|
Lady Snowblood (Japanese: 修羅雪姫 Hepburn: Shurayuki-hime) is a manga written by Kazuo Koike and illustrated by Kazuo Kamimura, and serialized in Shueisha's Weekly Playboy. It was translated into English and published in four volumes by Dark Horse Comics between 2005 and 2006.
Lady Snowblood centers around the title character, an assassin who seeks vengeance against the bandits who raped her mother and murdered her father, often using her sexual appeal as a weapon.
The manga was adapted into a live-action feature film of the same name starring Meiko Kaji in 1973. It was followed by Lady Snowblood 2: Love Song of Vengeance in 1974. In 2001, the manga was reimagined as the science fiction action film The Princess Blade, starring Yumiko Shaku and Hideaki Ito.
The Japanese title Shurayuki-hime is a pun on Snow White's Japanese name (白雪姫 Shirayuki-hime, "Princess Snow-White"). The word Shura comes to mean Asura, semi-divine beings consumed in the act of violence and unresolvable conflict, and the allusion of those that live lives forever involving such a fate. The title was translated as Lady Snowblood because Asura is associated with the term shuraba "scene of a great battle" or "scene of carnage".
Oyuki - Lady Snowblood - is given a task of vengeance to kill those who murdered her family and raped her mother. Tokuichi Shoei was stabbed to death by Oyuki's mother. Oyuki's mother was sent to jail for that crime and had a daughter in prison to exact retribution of the other three perpetrators. Okono Kitahama was set up by Oyuki to lose all her assets and was framed as a murderer. Gishiro Tsukamoto discovered Oyuki's plan and used Miyanara as bait but was still killed by Oyuki. Hanzo Takemura begs her forgiveness, however is still assassinated by Oyuki for honourable retribution.
- Lady Snowblood
- Oyuki is a seductive and beautiful woman, with formidable skills in using a blade hidden in her umbrella. She has been entrusted with a task of vengeance by her mother to kill the three people who murdered her brother and father.
- A writer who pens Oyuki's story in an effort to draw the final two tormentors out in the open. Although antagonistic at first, he comes to treat Oyuki as his daughter, even risking his life to assist in her quest. It is implied through their final interaction that Oyuki will return to take care of him, as he is the closest thing to a father that she has ever had.
- The leader of a band of beggars who assists Oyuki in discovering the location of her kill list in return for Oyuki stealing a hojicho for him.
Originally published in Shueisha's Weekly Playboy in the early 1970s. It was translated and published in English between 2005-2006 by Dark Horse Comics as a series of 4 separate volumes. Within each volume there are separate episodes, and although each episode is usually a self-contained arc it is also a continuation of the larger story.
|1||The Deep-Seated Grudge (Part 1)||September 21, 2005||ISBN 1-59307-385-2|
|In chapter 1, Lady Snowblood is contracted to assassinate the oyabun from a gambling den. She cheats using powdered dice to lure out the oyabun before killing him and the guards outside in the snow.
In chapter 2, Lady Snowblood is hired to assassinate Jinba, a brothel owner and find out what makes his brothel so popular. She starts a fire on one of Jinba's buildings before helping to put it out to gain his trust. Upon learning the brothel's popularity is in a lesbian sex show, she kills Jinba.
In chapter 3, a child is born in a women's prison. The mother suffers terribly while giving birth but before dying, she tells the tale of how her husband and son were murdered and she was brutally raped. She escaped their clutches by killing one of her tormentors, Tokuichi Shoei, but was caught by the police and sentenced to life imprisonment. This child, Oyuki, is cursed to carry out the vengeance her mother was unable to. This is where the reader learns Lady Snowblood's true name.
In chapter 4, Oyuki is given a contract to slay Kotozo Shimaya, who runs a rickshaw business which preys on unaccompanied women.In chapter 5, Oyuki learns the skills of a pickpocket from an inmate friend of her mother. Using her newly acquired skills, she slays two women and two men and she frames corrupt high-ranking officials into shutting down a rokumeikan (Social Hall), which was for the westernization of Japan.
|2||The Deep-Seated Grudge (Part 2)||December 28, 2005||ISBN 1-59307-443-3|
|In chapter 1, Oyuki makes a deal with Matsuemon, the leader of band of thieves / beggars. In return for Hojicho, a document containing the dates of people's deaths, he will find the current locations of her mother's tormentors.
Chapter 2 recounts Oyuki's brutal sword training as a child to become Lady Snowblood.
In chapter 3, Oyuki frames Okono Kitahama, one of her mother's four tormentors, with a fake life insurance business and for murder. Okono is the one on Oyuki's vengeance list who she does not kill.In chapter 4, Oyuki is contracted to find blackmailer Genjirô. It concludes in a cliffhanger, with Oyuki about to be raped by Genjirô.
|3||Retribution (Part 1)||March 29, 2006||ISBN 1-59307-458-1|
|Picking up from the previous chapter, Oyuki escapes Genjirô's clutches and deals a fatal blow to him. However, before he dies she decides to have sex with him.
In chapter 2, Oyuki is contracted to kill a yakuza controlling an area, so that it can be developed into a museum.In chapter 3, Oyuki enlists the help of a writer to chronicle her life in a newspaper in an effort to locate the final two people on her assassination list.
|4||Retribution (Part 2)||June 28, 2006||ISBN 1-59307-532-4|
|In chapter 12, Oyuki hides as a nurse in a mental health clinic to avoid capture.
In chapter 13, a photographer uses men to rape his female clients. The photos of the rape are then used as blackmail. Oyuki is hired to destroy the photos and slay the photographer.
In chapter 14, Gishiro captures Mr Miyanara. Oyuki, disguised as an old lady, slips into Gishiro's house and murders him, leaving only Hanzo Takameru.In chapter 15, Hanzo Takameru is now an old man with a young daughter supporting him. Oyuki kills Hanzo, but saves his young daughter from being sold as a prostitute. She lies to her that her father committed suicide. Finally obtaining retribution for her mother, the final panel shows an umbrella, which houses Oyuki's blade, being tossed into the sea.
In other cultures
In 1973, the story was adapted into a feature film of the same name by director Toshiya Fujita, starring Meiko Kaji. The film was followed by Lady Snowblood: Love Song of Vengeance in 1974. A science fiction remake (The Princess Blade) starring Yumiko Shaku was released in 2001.
Tom Rosin from Manga Life considered Lady Snowblood "another cold-blooded revenge drama from the author of Lone Wolf", and said he enjoyed the mix of Western modernization and Japanese traditionalism. W.E Wallo from blogcritics.org finds the English translation weak compared to translation of Lone Wolf and Cub, however he recommends it to any fans of the Lone Wolf series. Similarly to Tom Rosin, he praises the "East/West dichotomy" theme that is prevalent in the novels.
- "Samurai Linear Notes". AnimEigo. Archived from the original on 2008-03-31. Retrieved 2008-04-08.
- Rose, Steve (2004-04-06). "Found: where Tarantino gets his ideas". The Guardian. Retrieved 2006-09-25.
- Rosin, Tom (November 2005). "Lady Snowblood v1: The Deep-Seated Grudge". Manga Life. Archived from the original on 2006-02-19. Retrieved 2008-04-08.
- Wallo, W.E. (2005-11-17). "Graphic Novel Review: Lady Snowblood Vol. 1". blogcritics.org. Archived from the original on 2008-06-12. Retrieved 2008-04-08.; archived at the "Wayback Machine" .