Don't be too hasty to write off Kinnosuke Nakamura's performance as Lone Wolf Ogami Itto. Tomisaburo Wakayama was exceptional in this role, especially with his unquestionably superior swordsmanship, but Nakamura plays the character with quiet, reflective dignity- there is a far greater focus on Itto as samurai than a mere killing machine. Thats not to say that there is less in the way of bloodshed- the bodycount for the series is staggering! This series is only available as a 3 season DVD set transferred from Japanese cable & is well worth the investment. My only criticism would be the repetition during Seasons 1 & 2 where Itto is approached (in almost every episode) by a clan under threat of abolition to carry out an assassination & thereby save the clan. This becomes the predictable plot template far too often, but its a minor gripe as there is a whole lot of good stuff on offer here- Itto has to fight everyone from greedy peasants to master swordsmen, ninjas & all sorts of bizarre weapons specialists. The best episodes are those detailing Itto's ongoing battle with the Yagyu- the 3rd season is absolutely superb. There is a genuine tension that accompanies this series, the numerical odds are often heavily stacked against Itto & his son but they are carried through by the Lone Wolf's incredible ability with the sword as well as a mental & tactical advantage over their attackers. The relationship between father & son is the focus of the series but the large number of episodes means that all sorts of themes are explored- this is a real window into the philosophy & nature of the samurai way of life. All in all a cracking series & one that should definitely be explored by any fans of the Babycart movies.
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