Lone Wolf and Cub’s Kazuo Koike passes away, final tweet is a salute to his manga rival

Unabashed lifelong otaku’s final online words express admiration for another recently departed anime/manga legend.

The anime/manga community is still wiping its eyes after the news that Monkey Punch (birth name Kazuhiko Kato), creator of crime comedy Lupin III, passed away this month. With fans and family still grieving, though, it’s time to say goodbye to yet another of the manga world’s all-time greats, Kazuo Koike.

Like Monkey Punch, Koike’s greatest hit came early in his career, with 1970’s Lone Wolf and Cub. A gripping tale of a wandering swordsman pushing a baby carriage with his infant son in it around feudal Japan on a quest for revenge, Lone Wolf and Cub’s gritty visuals and historical setting won it international fans and accolades even before overseas anime/manga fandom existed in any substantial form.

Sadly, Koike, who turned 82 last May, spent much of the past 12 months in poor health. Hospitalized since last summer, he continued to tweet, citing the importance of keeping his mind active and his spirits up. “It’s not good for you, psychologically, to spend the whole day in your pajamas,” the artist said, “By changing into regular clothes, you get emotionally ready for work or play, so on days when I’m feeling energetic, I make sure to get out of bed and change my clothes.”

夏に入院してから、今はもう秋。病院だから、ずっと寝間着でいるのですが、精神状態に非常に良くない。着替えることで、仕事モードになったり、遊びモードになったり、気持ちの切り替えになっていたんだね。だから、ちょっと気分が良くない日でも、起きたらとりあえず着替えること。気分が変わります。


小池一夫 (@koikekazuo) October 11, 2018

Still in the hospital when November rolled around, Koike once again tweeted “While here, I’ve realized something important. Even when there are limits to what you can do, it’s important to do something creative. Once your mentality becomes listless, everything else goes to pieces, so staying creative is a way of keeping yourself healthy.”

僕は、今、82歳で長期入院している。それで、分かった大切なことがある。それは、限られた条件の中で、如何に「クリエイティブ」になれるかだ。精神をだらけさせたら、一気に崩れ落ちてしまう防波堤がクリエイティブになることだった。これは入院… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…


小池一夫 (@koikekazuo) November 09, 2018

Unfortunately, Koike’s mental facilities began to deteriorate, and in January he was diagnosed with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Nevertheless, he tried to stay positive. “My family has told me, ‘We love you, no matter what,’ so I can sleep peacefully,” he tweeted on January 18.

僕は、認知症でアルツハイマーと診断されたのであるが、家人は「ただ、あなたを愛しているだけだから。そんなことどうでもいいわ~」とのんびり答えたので、ゆっくり眠れます。おやすみなさい。


小池一夫 (@koikekazuo) January 18, 2019

Koike’s ailments weren’t limited to those of the physical variety, though, and on April 17, he succumbed to pneumonia, as revealed in a posthumous tweet from his official account.

かねてより入院療養中であった小池一夫は肺炎により4月17日永眠いたしました。 生前は多くの方々に小池一夫と小池一夫作品を愛していただき、心より感謝申し上げます。 なお故人の遺志により葬儀は親族のみで執り行いました。 皆様には大変お世話になり、ありがとうございました。


小池一夫 (@koikekazuo) April 19, 2019

“Kazuo Koike, who had been hospitalized for some time, passed away from pneumonia on April 17.

We would like to sincerely thank all those who showed him, and his works, love during his lifetime. In accordance with his last wishes, his funeral will be a private service

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