I bought two mangas some days ago, ie, volumes 1 and 2 of "Lady Snowblood", by Koike Kazuo, illustrated by Kamimura Kazuo, and edited by Black Horse.
These have been written in the early 70's and became very popular in Japan at the time. Immediately after their publication (73, to be precise), the film "Lady Snowblood" ("Shurayukihime") was released. This is one of my favourite films, which 30 years later would strongly influence (or rather inspire) Tarantino's "Kill Bill". "Kill Bill" by its turn was primarily inspired by the manga itself, which is pure pulp.
I love "Kill Bill", and think it's great fun to watch. However after seeing "Lady Snowblood" I must say the former pales in comparison with the latter (the "original"). In this sense I nowadays see "Kill Bill" pretty much as a rip-off of "Lady Snowblood", with due respect to Tarantino and his work. But yes, even the camera shots seem like copies of "LS". Well, I believe "Kill Bill" may be a tribute of sorts to "Lady Snowblood" manga and films, but then again, I am not a film expert to say.
Tarantino used the two famous and astounding songs from the original, "Urami Bushi" (aka "My Grudge Blues" ) and "Shura no Hana" ("Flower of Carnage"), both sung by the gorgeous Kaji Meiko - who is also the star of "Lady Snowblood", this pretty and gloomy flower of Hell, white snow tinged with blood and moonlight.
The manga is very graphic. Lots of violence and sex. Mark thought the violence was a bit over the top, but we must agree that Yuki was a professional assassin, thus, she would do that for a living. She needed money (lots of it) to pursue her revenge, her family grudge.
He also thought she was taking her own clothes off all the time, however it's not her doing that in fact - but her foes, of course, who also try to rape her every so often. He restarted reading it and quite liked in the end. Caution here: if you don't like violent plots and scenes that some few people would certainly classify as "hentai", just keep clear of these books.
In the other hand, if you love manga, and are a fan of either "Kill Bill" and/or "Lady Snowblood", please grab your copy now.
Yuki, our Lady Snowblood, looks gorgeous as well in the books, however sometimes the body proportions do not seem quite right. Most of the time, she looks quite realistic and with a truly beautiful, almost angelical face, as well as the other characters and scenarios, which are very well drawn. No "big eyes" though, or cute magic girls and talking animals! Everything looks and feels quite real here.
To buy the books, you can go to my favourite manga site, JustManga. They deliver everywhere and have the best prices. To buy the films and CD's, go to Amazon or CDJapan, making a search for Kaji Meiko (Japanese form) or Meiko Kaji (westernized).
Now you may ask: which is more violent, books or film? I must say definitely the books.
I don't want to hurt you, but I have to stab you with my thorns
Burning, it's burning,
It keeps on burning within my grudge blues"
From "Urami Bushi" - "My Grudge Blues", sung by Kaji Meiko