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The Complete Babycart Series

Sword of Vengeance       Babycart at the River Styx       Babycart to Hades,

Babycart in Peril      Babycart in the Land of Demons     White Heaven in Hell

directed by Misumi Kenji, Saito Buichi, Koroda Yoshiyuki
Japan 1972 - 1974

In 1970, the first of total 114 stories of “Kozure Okami”, aka “Lone Wolf and Cub”, was published in Japan. The story was the creation of Koike Zazuo, who also wrote “Crying Freeman”, and painted in breathtaking watercolour brush techniques by Kojima Goseki.

In 14 volumes, the Manga tells the story of Ogami Ito, the former Keishakunin of the Shogun, who was framed by Yagyu clan for treason against the Shogun, and subsequently became an assassin for hire, in order to get one million Ryo to bribe officials, so that he could be allowed to bring his charges in front of the shogun and get his revenge. Together with his son, Daigoro, he now walks thru Japan, and the road between heaven and hell.

As a character, Ogami Ito is an enigma. On one side, he is an assassin without morals, on the other side, he is the very essence of Bushido. This complexity is used to examine various elements of Japanese and Bushido culture, and while the story has a continuous narrative dealing with the Yagyu clans attempts to kill Ogami, each story stands by itself, depicting unique cultural and historical sides. One story deals with peasant revolts, one with how men would carry travelers over a river and one with some unique side of sword fighting.

In 1972 the first of six “Kozure Okami” films were made by Toho. The first three were produced by Katsu Shintaro, the actor who played Zatoichi, to make a star out of his brother Wakayama Tomisaburo. The first three and number five were directed by Misumi Kenji, who also directed several of the “Zatoichi” films. The first four films were made basically back to back, released each two months, but failed to attract the same popularity as the Zatoichi films, and after two more entries, the series was dropped. In 1980 some of the films were edited together into a American dubbed version called “Shogun Assassin”, were a new dialogue was written and the film now was narrated by Daigoro. For many years was the only way to see the films in the west, as the originals were banned in 1983 as video nasties because of the extreme violence.

Despite failing at the cinema, the story was revisited several times. In 1983, Japanese TV made a short lived series out of the story, starring Nakamura Kinnosuke, in 1989 a two-hour TV film was made, in 1993 the story was once more made into a film, directed by Inoue Akira and starring Tamura Masakazu as Ogami, and in 2002 another TV series was made for Japanese TV, this time directed by Fujioka Kojiro and starring Kitaoji Kinya. Also outside of Japan, the story inspired. The graphic novel “Road to Perdition” was inspired by the story of the lone wolf and his cub, and in 2003, Darren Aronofsky announced that one of his future projects were to be “Lone Wolf and Cub”.

Today, the original films are to be considered as some of the finest chambara ever made. Especially the first three films have an almost poetic beauty to them thru the cinematography of Makiura Chishi, who also was a regular on the “Zatoichi” films, and his Zen-like Tohoscope compositions and slow-motion splatter sequences, which captures the beauty of Kojima brush techniques. They are today by their own right classics and seminal chambara films.
  out of

Henrik Sylow

Comparison:

ArtsMagic -  Region 2 - PAL vs. Eureka Video (Complete Lone Wolf & Cub Boxset) - Region 2 - NTSC vs. Animeigo - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

1) ArtsMagic - Region 2 - PAL LEFT

2) Eureka Video (Complete Lone Wolf & Cub Boxset) - Region 2 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Animeigo - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

 

CLICK logo to order

 

Distribution Artsmagic -  Region 2 - PAL

Eureka Video

Region 2 - NTSC

Animeigo

Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Bitrate Blu-ray

Bitrate Blu-ray
Blu-ray Disc stats: 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc 1 Size: 43,909,851,611 bytes

Avg. Feature: 15,233,421,312 bytes

Video Bitrate: 19.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc 2 Size: 43,623,014,712 bytes

Avg. Feature: 15,276,761,088 bytes

Video Bitrate: 19.97 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono) Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono) LPCM Audio Japanese 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
Subtitles English, (burned-in) English, None English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio:  ArtsMagic

Aspect Ratios: various widescreen

Edition Details:
6 films of the Lone Wolf Babycart series

Sword of Vengeance

Babycart at the River Styx

Babycart to Hades

Babycart in Peril

Babycart in the Land of Demons

White Heaven in Hell
• Number of discs: 6

DVD Release Date: January 30th, 2005

Release Information:
Studio: Eureka Video

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.35:1

Edition Details:
• Theatrical trailers for all 6 Japanese films (same ones from individual discs)

DVD Release Date: 21 Nov 2009
Slimcase in a boxset

Chapters 18

Release Information:
Studio:
Animeigo

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Edition Details:
• Production Notes for each film

Blu-ray Release Date:
September 25th, 2012
Standard
Blu-ray Case

Chapters 18

Comments:

NOTE: These Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

 

ADDITION: Animeigo - Region 'A' - Blu-ray (September 2012): So, 6 films spread over 2 Blu-ray discs. The bitrate is only about 3 times that of SD. It is hard to deny the improvement but the image is severely digitized looking overly glossy with some less-noticeable banding. It looks like HDV with some of the same contrast weaknesses, BUT - it is so significantly improved over the flat, hazy, cropped and picture-boxed ArtsMagic and the boosted Eureka. So, despite the waxy-glossiness it is still an enjoyable presentation for the less image-discerning. I really enjoyed it without getting overly picky.

 

The audio is lossless via 2.0 channel linear PCM tracks. The effects benefit from the lossless transfer sounding quite crisp and sharp. Swords hack with a definite punch and although there is no surround separation - it does have aggressive depth. Animeigo are very thorough with subtitles and they are in both yellow and green for alt-characters reasonably matching the ArtsMagic translation.

 

No extras save the digital program notes as a menu option for each film that flash through pages every 45 seconds. There is no booklet.

 

Absolute classic of the genre and great to have in 1080P despite the imperfect transfer. I think fans will appreciate the improved appearance and audio.  

 - Gary Tooze  

 

***

ADDITION: Eureka - Region 2 - NTSC - December 09: Eureka took reigns from Artsmagic which released all 6 films in UK first in 2005 and then restored version in 2008 HERE and used excellent Toho restorations for this 7-disc boxset. Unfortunately, we could not compare to the second edition or to Animeigo US releases, but compared to Artsmagic's first release the improvement can be seen easily. Each progressive all-region disc use NTSC masters from Japan, so there is no PAL/NTSC conversion issues. White font subtitles with black borders are easy to read and placed over the image (see examples below). The bonus 7th disc presents a 1980 US re-edit and re-dub of the second film (plus a few scenes from the first) called Shogun Assassin. Most English-language speakers learned about the series from this version and it's been restored as well. Notice that in the second comparison from Shogun Assassin, the damage spot from is missing in the original. Each disc has an original trailer which are also on the 7th disc. Each disc is packed in a slimcase Eclipse Series style. Reversible artwork has a one-page essay about each film by Tom Mes on one side and reproduction of original posters on the other.

 - Gregory Meshman

***

 

ON THE ARTS MAGIC: DVD 5 editions, the image appears to be a port from video. Its presented in 1.78:1 anamorphically, with the cropped 2.22:1 Aspect Ratio top aligned, not centre as normally, with space for the fixed subtitles below the image.

The image has serious problems. First the ghosting is very intrusive. Even normal movement causes ghosting and fast movement causes invisibility of objects. Secondly, the image is very soft and has a tendency to blur. Third, it has at time very visible edge enhancement, even visible on small screens. Forth, it has serious problems with light. Bright scenes tend to “white” out, night scenes tend to “black” out. Fifth, it lacks sharpness in detail, images away, especially in long shots show almost no characteristics. Six, colors are faded.

Also the sound has problems. Being the 2.0 Dolby Digital mono, the sound seems to have been subdued, possible by noise reduction. While dialogue is clear, subtle sounds are barely audible.

ArtsMagic should simply take this release back. Even as this is the first time these films are released completely uncut in the UK, a very bad cropped image does not do these films any justice.

Henrik Sylow

 

Eureka packaging

 

(aka "Kozure Ôkami: Kowokashi udekashi tsukamatsuru" or "Babycart - Sword of Vengeance")

 

directed by Kenji Misumi
Japan 1972

 

Framed for treason, the executioner of the Shogun is stripped of office and declared an outlaw. Together with his infant son, he sets out as a mercenary on a blood soaked journey of revenge against the secret society that murdered his wife, and robbed him of his good name.

With his life in ruins, and literally believing that he is in hell, he and his baby son have become Lone Wolf and Cub.

Poster

Theatrical Release: January 15, 1972 (Japan)

Reviews    More Reviews

Menus

 

1) ArtsMagic - Region 2 - PAL TOP LEFT

2) Eureka Video (Complete Lone Wolf & Cub Boxset) - Region 2 - NTSC TOP RIGHT

3) Animeigo - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920 X 1080 RESOLUTION

 

Screen Captures

 

1) ArtsMagic - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Eureka Video (Complete Lone Wolf & Cub Boxset) - Region 2 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Animeigo - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) ArtsMagic - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Eureka Video (Complete Lone Wolf & Cub Boxset) - Region 2 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Animeigo - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

More Blu-ray Captures

 

(aka "Kozure Ôkami: Sanzu no kawa no ubaguruma" or "Babycart at the River Styx")

 

directed by Kenji Misumi
Japan 1972

 

Ogami Ito is dead - Lone Wolf lives on, continuing his blood spattered journey through the land he calls Hell. As he remorselessly seeks the secretive shadowy Yagyu clan, they continue in their efforts to destroy him, first sending their female warriors, the viscous Akashi ninja. Beyond them, barring his way, the self proclaimed Gods of Death, sadistic warriors with a lust for blood.

Lone Wolf must defeat them to justify the 500 pieces of gold that have just bought his sword once more.

 

Poster

Theatrical Release: April 22, 1972 (Japan)

Reviews            More Reviews

Menus

 

1) ArtsMagic - Region 2 - PAL TOP LEFT

2) Eureka Video (Complete Lone Wolf & Cub Boxset) - Region 2 - NTSC TOP RIGHT

3) Animeigo - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


Screen Captures

 

1) ArtsMagic - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Eureka Video (Complete Lone Wolf & Cub Boxset) - Region 2 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Animeigo - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) ArtsMagic - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Eureka Video (Complete Lone Wolf & Cub Boxset) - Region 2 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Animeigo - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Captures

(aka "Kozure Ôkami: Shinikazeni mukau ubaguruma" or "Babycart to Hades")

 

directed by Kenji Misumi
Japan 1972

 

''Child and expertise for rent'' reads the sign on the babycart that traverses the land called Hell. The child is Daigoro, the Cub, and the expertise is in the art of slaughter as practiced by Ogami Ito, the Lone Wolf. In a rare moment of compassion, Lone Wolf rescues a girl who has killed a pimp in self defense. By his code, he is forced to endure being tortured to within an inch of his life. Lone Wolf takes to the road again, where his expertise is very much in demand, so much that a would-be employer had already had a contract placed on him.

Poster

Theatrical Release: September 2, 1972 (Japan)

Menus

 

1) ArtsMagic - Region 2 - PAL TOP LEFT

2) Eureka Video (Complete Lone Wolf & Cub Boxset) - Region 2 - NTSC TOP RIGHT

3) Animeigo - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


Screen Captures

 

1) ArtsMagic - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Eureka Video (Complete Lone Wolf & Cub Boxset) - Region 2 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Animeigo - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) ArtsMagic - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Eureka Video (Complete Lone Wolf & Cub Boxset) - Region 2 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Animeigo - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Captures

 

(aka "Kozure Ôkami: Oya no kokoro ko no kokoro" or "Babycart in Peril")

 

directed by Buichi Saito
Japan 1972

 

Lone Wolf is separated from his Cub, Daigoro, in the course of a mission to find and kill the tattooed mistress of martial arts, Oyuki. Daigoro is found at the mercy of a rival of his father, Ogami Ito. Ogami eliminates the problem with his routine efficiency. Despite continuous harassment from Yagyu assassins, Lone Wolf discovers Oyuki. Although he admires her, he is contract to destroy her.

All this time, the evil Lord Retsudo is coming closer to Lone Wolf, and he's bringing an army with him.

Poster

Theatrical Release: December 30, 1972 (Japan)

Menus

 

1) ArtsMagic - Region 2 - PAL TOP LEFT

2) Eureka Video (Complete Lone Wolf & Cub Boxset) - Region 2 - NTSC TOP RIGHT

3) Animeigo - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


Screen Captures

 

1) ArtsMagic - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Eureka Video (Complete Lone Wolf & Cub Boxset) - Region 2 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Animeigo - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) ArtsMagic - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Eureka Video (Complete Lone Wolf & Cub Boxset) - Region 2 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Animeigo - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Captures

 

 

(aka "Kozure Ôkami: Meifumadô" or "Babycart in the Land of Demons")

 

directed by Kenji Misumi
Japan 1973

 

Prior to hiring Ogami Ito, Lord Kuroda, head of the Kuroda clan, sends his five greatest warriors to individually test the skill of Lone Wolf. Ogami passes the test. Hired to ensure that the succession of the clan passes to the legitimate heir, the son of Lord Kuroda, Lone Wolf becomes enmeshed in a web of intrigue that leads in turn to Lord Retsudo, the evil head of the Yagyu.

Before he can break free, he must turn against the very men who hired him, the loyal retainers of the Kuroda clan.

Poster

Theatrical Release: August 11, 1973 (Japan)


Screen Captures

 

1) ArtsMagic - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Eureka Video (Complete Lone Wolf & Cub Boxset) - Region 2 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Animeigo - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) ArtsMagic - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Eureka Video (Complete Lone Wolf & Cub Boxset) - Region 2 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Animeigo - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Captures

 

 

(aka "Kozure ôkami: Jigoku e ikuzo! Daigorô" or "Babycart - White Heaven in Hell")

 

directed by Yoshiyuki Kuroda
Japan 1974

 

This is the last adventure of Lone Wolf and his Cub. Having failed in all his previous attempts to destroy Ogami, the evil lord of the Yagyu clan recruits his blood thirsty daughter. Together with the supernatural warriors, these are his most powerful weapons. If they fail, Retsudo plans to release the might of the entire Yagyu army. Ogami and Daigoro stand at the crossroads to hell.

Poster

Theatrical Release: April 24, 1974 (Japan)


Screen Captures

 

1) ArtsMagic - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Eureka Video (Complete Lone Wolf & Cub Boxset) - Region 2 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Animeigo - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) ArtsMagic - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Eureka Video (Complete Lone Wolf & Cub Boxset) - Region 2 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Animeigo - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Captures


 

CLICK logo to order

 

Distribution Artsmagic -  Region 2 - PAL

Eureka Video

Region 2 - NTSC

Animeigo

Region 'A' - Blu-ray



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Gary Tooze

Many Thanks...