Lady Snowblood

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"Bloody Vengeance"

"I am a vehicle of retribution who roams in search of my mother's sworn enemies"
Lady Snowblood

The Lady Snowblood manga series was created by Kazuo Koike while the artwork was drawn by Kazuo Kamimura. First published and serialized in 1973 in the Weekly Playboy magazine in Japan. The manga series didn't get translated into English until 2005 by Dark Horse Comics.

The story begins with the birth of the protagonist, Oyuki. She was born on a snowy day inside a woman's prison. Before her mother passed away due to complications with childbirth, she entrusted a prison cellmate to look after Oyuki while reminding her that she has a task to fulfill -- her last wish: to seek vengeance against her enemies, who slaughtered her family and raped her brutally in the past.

After years of torturous training under a strict priest, Oyuki grew up to be a fine looking woman in her prime, chasing the remaining enemies of her mother. Oyuki uses her sex appeal, charms and a sword hidden under an umbrella as her tools of death to get the job done as an assassin.

The manga itself was popular enough to be adapted later into a live-action film of the same name starring Meiko Kaji as Oyuki. The film created a cult following, resulting in a sequel. Quentin Tarantino was inspired by the film, which resulted in the creation of Kill Bill.

Tropes used in Lady Snowblood include:
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Done by Okono Fujishima.
  • Attempted Rape: Several times.
  • Author Avatar: Gaikotsu Miyahara. He actually writes Oyuri's story down as she progresses. Try not to think about it too much: the Fourth Wall seems to warp recursively around this guy.
  • Batman Gambit: Oyuki does this all the time.
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed: Blackmailer Genjiro subverts this. Amusingly enough, that was the whole reason why he blackmailed people. He wanted to raise up his funds to move to England, since the women in Japan were too small for him to fit it in.
  • Bifauxnen: The corrupt photographer
  • Black and Grey Morality: Some of the motivations of the clients when hiring her were questionable at best. And some of her allies are either part of a gang or a scheming trickster like Gaikotsu Miyahara the Wanderer. Also how she deals with Hanzo Takemura.
  • Crapsack World: An era in Japan where big drastic changes in the society due to the influence of the western world coming onto their doorstep, women were treated as second class citizens at best, crime is quite rampant through out the series.
  • Dark Action Girl: Oyuki could be classed as one.
  • Even the Girls Want Her: Oyuki gets more than her fair share of indecent proposals from women, and she's quite happy to oblige.
  • Fan Disservice: Okono's "masunoura" mentioned above.
  • Fan Service: Why else would Oyuki get naked at least once every chapter?
  • Femme Fatale: Oyuki.
    • At first she seems to be a Femme Fatale, but if you look closely she is a real Vamp. Ok most people she kills deserve their demise, but she went too far when she forced a chauffeur to rape his employer's daughter, then killed the girl in order to blackmail the hapless man into becoming an accomplice to another murder. Although she promised to let him go free, she kills him anyway.
  • Girl-On-Girl Is Hot: "Toichi Haichi" the secret weapon of a brothel success.
  • Groin Attack: "Unveiling of a Pretty Woman"
  • Ill Girl: One of Oyuki's plots involves seducing one.
  • Important Haircut: After Oyuki finally starts on the active phase of her revenge, she cuts her long hair short.
  • Instant Expert: Oyuki takes a month to master her pickpocketing skills.

Kiku of Tajire: You'll have to go through severe training. You'll have to practice until you bleed everyday and still it'll take a year before you get a hang of it
Oyuki: I'll do whatever it takes, but I must master it in a month.

    • Of course when you have revenge as your fuel you can do wonders!
  • Lady of War: Oyuki
  • Lipstick Lesbian: At one point, a lesbian character tells Oyuki: "I knew you were one of us." And indeed she is: Oyuki has sex with at least four women over the course of the story, of whom only one had anything to do with her current assignment. And the only sex a guy ever has with Oyuki (excluding universally disastrous rape attempts) is intercrural. This may have something to do with her mother's Backstory.
  • Mugging the Monster: As a beautiful woman in a crime-ridden and crapsack feudal Japan, Oyuki is targeted a lot by would-be rapists. They very quickly (and fatally) learn the error of their ways.
  • Never Mess with Granny: Auntie Kiku of Tajire.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Oyuki sometimes does this to get her job done.
  • Parasol of Pain: Oyuki's signature weapon, with a hidden sword inside.
  • Pet the Dog: Oyuki gets several moments, such as generously sparing a thieving employee from being punished Auntie Kiku, and saving her victim's daughter from being forced into a life of prostitution in the last chapter.
  • Psycho Lesbian: Quite a few, resulting in Girl-On-Girl Is Hot scenes.
  • Rape as Backstory: The painful past of Oyuki's mother. She wanted revenge for it, but could only kill one of her tormentors before being caught by the police, leading her to seek companionship in prison until Oyuki could be conceived as a "walking demon" who would complete her vengeance, making this a prime example of...
  • Rape and Revenge: One of the classics.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The whole premise of the series.
  • Training from Hell: From the priest who trained her as an assassin.
    • Her pickpocketing training as well.