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Kazuo Koike—a prolific Japanese manga writer/artist known for his work on books like Lone Wolf and Cub, Lady Snowblood, Crying Freeman, and even Marvel's Wolverine—has passed away at the age of 82. Koike's death, which occurred on Wednesday from pneumonia, was confirmed on his Twitter page by a relative, who wrote:
"I would like to thank many people for their love of Kazuo Koike and Kazuo Koike in their lifetime. The funeral was held only by the relative of the deceased. Thank you very much for your care."
Born in Akita, Japan in May of 1936, Koike (per MyAnimeList.com) learned under Golgo 13 creator Takao Saito before going on to create Lone Wolf and Cub with artist Goseki Kojima in the early 1970s. The manga itself is a samurai story about an assassin and his young son looking for mercenary jobs and more importantly, revenge. The comic became so popular and influential, that it was adapted into multiple films, stage productions, and a television show.
Beyond that Kokie also wrote Lady Snowblood, a manga that ran from 1972-1973 and follows a woman seeking retribution for her murdered family. It was adapted for film in 1973 with Meiko Kaji in the starring role and is often cited as a major influence on Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill movies.
Crying Freeman ran from 1988-1994 and revolved around yet another assassin, who sheds tears after each kill to show his repentance. In the early 2000s, Kokie wrote a Wolverine comic, exploring Logan's connection to Japan in X-Men Unlimited #50.
Last Jedi director Rian Johnson was just one of the high-profile individuals to mourn Koike's passing on Twitter, writing:
"RIP Kazuo Koike, who wrote the Lone Wolf & Cub manga with artist Goseki Kojima. The whole set is in print as a 3 volume omnibus from Dark Horse, can’t recommend it enough."
Koike's passing comes just a few days after the death of Monkey Punch (Lupin III), another famous manga cartoonist, who was 81 and also succumbed to pneumonia.