95. Ogami Itto vs. Yagyo Retsudo (Final Battle)
Once a guy slaughters almost your entirely family and then frames you for treason, well, let’s just say that you are not going to be a fan of that fellow, and that was, indeed, the case for Ogami Itto and his arch-nemesis, Yagyo Retsudo.
The only surviving member of Itto's family was his infant son, Daigoro. Father and son proceeded to live the life of the ronin (the masterless samurai). Over time, Itto killed off all of Retsudo’s sons (and clashed with Retsudo, as well, in a dramatic battle) until it was finally time for the final battle between the two - one final duel.
Tragically, though, Itto’s legendary sword was tampered with, leaving Itto to fight a group of ninjas (sort of the appetizer to the main course of revenge against Retsudo) without a sword, and while he was victorious, he was so injured that he was not nearly in good enough shape to face off against Retsudo, which was made painfully evident when Itto dies during the middle of the fight - his sense of vengeance just could not make up for the ravages to his body.
Daiguro, however, finishes the battle by picking up Retsudo’s spear, and attacking him.
By this point, Retsudo was sick of all the bloodshed, as well, so he offered up no defense, and appeared to die fairly happily - the circle of violence finally complete. Of course, Retsudo COULD have lived and raised Daiguro himself (also thereby ending the circle of violence between the two clans). Commenter Tom Fitzgerald is correct to note that the original ending was left unclear.
A grand finale for Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima’s epic tale.
Has anyone got a good scan of the fight from Volume 28? I had to go with the cover of 26, which has nothing really to do with the last fight - it’s just a cool shot of Itto and Retsudo together.