Lone Wolf and Cub: White Heaven in Hell
I mentioned in my previous essay that there was a lot riding on this, the final film in the series. The first film setup a lot of story, which the middle four films mostly ignored. I assumed that they would try to fit all that resolution into one final sendoff. I assumed incorrectly as it turns out.
Not that this film didn’t try to resolve anything. It did. I suppose. But it definitely didn’t try to resolve everything. It didn’t even come close. I suppose in a way that’s as it should be. I just started reading the manga that this film series is based on, so I don’t know how that ends, but I assume it’s with some sense of closure. But this film, really this series, is a superhero story, and those don’t ever end really. Even death is merely a plot point in a superhero narrative.
So, yeah, nothing ends here. Superhero stories are, for the most part, just eternal middles. Maybe that’s why I like middles so much better than beginnings or endings actually. The result of a youth spent devouring comic books that needed the story to continue on regardless. There’s just something so comforting about not having to say hello or goodbye. We already know who everyone is and we just keep on keeping on.
Beyond that, this is one super weird way to go out. Apparently, Tomisaburo Wakayama was finally given the green light with this one, to make the weird film that was always in his heart. If that’s the case, he leaned all the way in. From the very beginning this is so odd, with the sudden introduction of worm-like-zombie men being one of the lesser strange parts. It’s all quite a breathtaking choice, but also firmly supports this being the final film. I cannot imagine what the path forward from here would have looked like.