The Twitter account for prolific manga creator Kazuo Koike (@koikekazuo) announced on Friday that he passed away from pneumonia on Wednesday. He was 82.
The Twitter post stated that he had already been hospitalized and was under medical care when he passed away. The post thanked everyone who loved Koike and his works throughout his life, and stated that as was his dying wish, his funeral service will be for relatives only.
On Wednesday, Koike posted on Twitter that he and Lupin III creator Monkey Punch were rivals 40 years ago in the Weekly Manga Action magazine when Lupin III and Koike’s Lone Wolf and Cub manga were running. Koike also said that he would miss him. Monkey Punch, whose real name is Kazuhiko Katō, passed away on April 11 at 81 years old, also from pneumonia. Koike (under his pen name Keigo Ozuka) and Monkey Punch collaborated as the writer and artist, respectively, on the Secretary Bird manga mini-series in Weekly Manga Action in September 1970.
Koike was born on May 8, 1936 in Akita prefecture. In addition to creating stories for manga, Koike wrote novels; scripts for movies, television, and stage plays; and also wrote song lyrics. In 1972 he founded Studio Ship, which was later renamed as Koike Shoin Corporation. He established the Koike Gekiga Sonjuku training school for budding manga creators in 1977, and also worked as an instructor at the Osaka University of Arts starting in 2000.
Koike is perhaps most well known for his and Goseki Kojima’s Lone Wolf and Cub samurai manga. First Comics premiered the manga in English in May 1987. The series was one of the first manga published in North America, and the first manga to be released in North America on a monthly schedule. Dark Horse Comics began releasing the series in 2000 as the first manga series to be published in North America straight to graphic novels that corresponded with the Japanese releases. In 2013, Dark Horse began releasing the series in omnibus format.
The manga inspired six feature movies starring Tomisaburo Wakayama, four stage plays, and a television series. As of October 2017, Paramount had the rights to a separate English-language live-action film adaptation of the manga.
Some of Koike’s other manga include Samurai Executioner, Crying Freeman, Lady Snowblood, Mad Bull 34, Mad Bull 2000, and New Lone Wolf & Cub. Many of his manga inspired live-action and anime adaptations. He also worked on the Golgo 13 manga’s story along with others. Koike and Miki Fujita more recently ended their Koike Kazuo no Manga Juku manga in Akita Shoten’s Champion RED magazine in March 2018.