Some seinen manga, I believe, take the meaning too far. The gore and nudity found in them is simply disturbing, no longer artistic, just omnipresent and absolutely in-your-face.
Vagabond is not like those seinen manga.
From the beginning, Vagabond has this strange allure to it. Drawn to this manga by the promise of awesome fight scenes, [oh yes, I assure you, you will not be disappointed by the fight scenes], you find yourself hooked to this manga.
Absolutely, completely, utterly, hooked.
It starts off with a rather rude and yet beautiful jerk, depicting the scene of a battlefield in splendid watercolor. The manga just rides on from there, rising
from peak to peak. The fights get better, and the character himself grows. He grows realistically, he stumbles, he falls, he falls so hard that he finds it difficult to get back onto his feet, he takes the wrong path, goes the wrong way, makes the wrong enemies, and kills the wrong people, but he gets back up, and the story continues.
It is just so completely believable, so persuasive and so artistic all at the same time that with this manga just feels so raw and yet so real.
The main character, who one will find it hard to identify with on the surface, has something deep within him that every single one of us can possibly understand and aspire towards.
His growth and development, in more ways than just of the sword, but yet at the same time never truly leaving the sword, are so simple and yet so spectacular at the same time. He manages to bring out the best in some people and the worst in others, brushing past some like a whirlwind and crashing headlong into others, leaving behind a trail of death, destruction, and new life. All this happens while he himself is still growing, and while he is nowhere near perfect, there is just something so addictive about getting to know more about him.
And getting to know more about the main character is exactly what this entire manga is about. It is about seeing Miyamoto Musashi through the eyes of the world, through the eyes of others, and through his own eyes.
With a brilliant blend of flashbacks, flashforwards and glimpses into the lives of others besides those who surround the main character, Vagabond paints a rich picture of the samurai scene in the time of Miyamoto Musashi, the main character.
If you have been hesitating about reading a seinen manga, hesitate no more.
Vagabond will open your eyes to a brilliant new genre.
Vagabond is perhaps the very epitome of a great manga. It has everything: action, suspense, excitment, drama and even a little romance - everything that is packed into Eiji Yoshikawa's amazing original story.
That's not to say it is to everyone's tastes. While I personally love Takehiko Inoue's drawings, the imagery at times is very graphic, bordering on grotesque at times. Limbs, guts, heads fly off in the heat of battle, the drawings are literally so good it's sickening. If blood is not really your thing, you might be better leaving this on the shelf.
For those who don't mind a bit of blood however, read
on, because while Vagabond at first glance just seems to be yet another manga based on the era of the samurai, this manga has a great deal of depth that literally sucks the reader in.
For example, in countless manga involving fights (and in particular, American comic books as well) the reader is presented with a rather generic range of characters - the good guys... and the bad guys. This isn't the case with the characters that appear in Vagabond however. The characteristics of people inhabiting the world of Vagabond, their emotions, desires, despairs, fears etc. are all painstakingly realised that Vagabond on a whole seems to be a lavishly painted picture. All characters have their reasons for what they do, they all have both good and bad elements to their character which only further adds to the realism that the drawings provide.
In your stock-standard fighting story the death of the "bad guys" is inevitable, and one does not stop to ponder this into too much detail. However, in Vagabond when Musashi cuts someone down both Musashi and the reader are left to think and question the "correctness" of his actions. You really feel for the deaths of those that fall. As Takuan, the monk appearing in the story, says, all people killed by Musashi were just that, people. They are people with families, wives, children, pets, they are people who had hopes and dreams, or people who just somehow lived day to day.
However the real reason Vagabond is a favourite manga of mine is because of the main story thread, the growth of Musashi himself from a reckless 17 year old youth who plunges directly into the battle of Sekigahara seeking unparalled strength, to a well rounded young adult who learns how to pick his battles.
The contrast between Matahachi and Musashi is beautifully done. Matahachi and Musashi, two friends, start the manga off on the same footing and set off to be one thing -"Tenka Musou" 天下無双 ('the best in the land'). However Matahachi and Musashi soon walk down separate paths to acheive this goal. Matahachi chooses to pursue frivolous momentary pleasures, while Musashi instead chooses to devote himself to bettering himself.
Both make mistakes and suffer setbacks along the way, and both have their own ways of dealing with this - Matahachi digs himself into further into trouble while Musashi rises above the setbacks he faces and strengthens himself to unbelivable proportions.
After surviving numerous duels to the bitter end and overcoming many internal conflicts (the decision to leave his one true love, Otsu to pursue the life of the sword), only one swordsman still stands in Musashi's way...
Sasaki Kojiro - a deaf and dumb swordsman who literally lives for the sword...
While the story does drag at times (the Yoshioka arc), on a whole Vagabond is packed full of both emotion and gut-wrenching sword battles. It's relatively short on dialogue, but the images Inoue presents speak volumes. A picture is really worth a thousand words and this manga is a manga that attests to this. If only other manga could be this deep as well. Every single volume of the manga really leaves the reader pondering about what they've read for a long time after the manga has been put down.
Put simply, there is not a manga that I could recommend more.
Vagabond is, in my opinion, one of the most important titles in recent manga history, and perhaps ever. It is, in many ways, one of the most ambitious manga ever created, and although it's impossible to measure individual effort, it wouldn't surprise me if Takehiko Inoue worked twice as hard as most mangaka.
Vagabond follows the exploits of Shinmen Takezo, who would eventually become the legendary sword-saint Miyamoto Musashi, and his childhood friend, Hon'iden Matahachi. The two start off as very different people to begin with, and their inherently different natures set them off on completely different life paths. Though based on a famous novel
by Eiji Yoshikawa, it diverges from it in numerous ways to the point that it can stand on its own quite comfortably.
There isn't much of a "plot" to speak of; Vagabond's entire hook and storytelling style is based entirely on the characters and their growth and development over the course of many years. This is in no way a bad thing because the character development present in Vagabond is some of the absolute best in any manga. Musashi grows from an immature, amoral gloryhound into a spiritually enlightened philosopher, warrior, and artist and it's incredibly fascinating and engrossing to behold. The rest of the characters get a fairly good amount of fleshing out, more than enough to make them distinct and memorable in their own right.
Vagabond is one of the most genuinely japanese comics I have ever read, and not in the stereotypical anime/manga way either. There are many moments and actions in Vagabond that in any other manga would have been the subject of judgment; being a seinen, it does not shy away from graphic violence, nudity, and other similarly adult content. However, these events are presented much more matter-of-factly and through an entirely different lens than most stories. While this can potentially alienate some people, I found it very fascinating, as if I was looking through something that was made by a person who is very different from me.
Of course, I would be remiss in also mentioning the incredibly important part that Vagabond's art plays into its excellence. Simply put, Takehiko Inoue is arguably the most skilled manga artist in Japan today. He has achieved a level of draftsmanship that is far beyond most comic book artists in general, whether they be eastern or western. The character designs in Vagabond have a ridiculous amount of effort put into them; not only are they all completely distinct from one another, but they are very detailed and realistic, much moreso than 99% of other manga. Takehiko Inoue has such a strong grasp of proportion, form, shape, perspective, line weight, and every other artistic fundamental to a degree that I really don't see outside of the best art instructors in the world. A big point in Vagabond's favor is that unlike other similarly well-illustrated works such as Berserk, Vagabond's art *starts off* really strong to begin with and only becomes BETTER as time goes on.
This growing expertise is perhaps best represented by the challenge Inoue took up in using a brush to ink his work as opposed to traditional ink pens. Using a brush is ridiculously difficult and requires a lot of control, but the results are self-evident: Vagabond gradually develops extremely lush and beautiful illustrations that would only be possible with this tool. His masterful use of the brush is one of many testaments to Takehiko Inoue's expertise.
Any flaws Vagabond has are mostly nitpicks; a lot of the story is not based on action, but on spiritual and philosophical musings by Musashi and the rest of the cast. Generally these moments are insightful and even almost spiritual, but very occasionally they can be a little pretentious. While I like Kojiro's character, i'm not sure if his portrayal as a deaf person is very sensitive to the deaf community or how they would respond to it. As of this writing Vagabond has been 'almost over' for a few years, and it's not really clear when Inoue is going to come out of hiatus.
regardless, even if this manga is never finished, it is still a seminal masterpiece in the industry that everyone should read. the amount of artistry, research, and raw passion that went into it are undeniable. It is one of the only manga i'd ever give a 10/10 to.
Vagabond is one of the greatest manga ever written. The manga is totally different from the majority of seinen manga who focuses on gore and storylines without any depth to it. It is a gift to all those readers who enjoy philosophy and realistic stories.
Vagabond is a journey of a samurai named Miyamoto Musashi focusing on his life and the hardships & challenges he faces throughout his journey. The mangaka has done a brilliant job in portraying his life right from the first chapter.
The artwork is on a level of its own and the narration is exquisite. The story progresses at a
good pace. Character development is great and each character is introduced in a nice and comprehensive way. The fights are just epic and so realistic that you will find yourself enjoying every single panel of it.
The story is portrayed in an elegant manner and you will see that each chapter teaches you something about life in some way. So for those of you who have been disinclined to start this manga, throw away your reluctance and just start reading this masterpiece.
I read Vagabond to see what all the fuss is about. It's a very fast read. There are huge image panels and barely anything happening per chapter, which flows well if you're reading straight through but hellish if you're waiting chapter by chapter. The art is simply gorgeous - probably the best I've ever seen in a manga - but stands in stark contrast to the lack of actual story... sort of like special effects in a movie.
The "story" appears to be the warrior's drive to be the best, err, I mean "invincible under the sun." This results in such battles as the infamous "lets
duel next year when our dojo isn't on fire" incident, the exhilarating stare down with Aang from Avatar, and the riveting stand off with the sleeping guy. It got a bit more interesting after Musashi killed enough people for their friends to start caring about it and gaining motives other than perfecting their skills, thus inspiring a semblance of sympathy and emotional investment in battle outcomes... but this didn't last long.
Over 50 chapters of spoon-fed philosophizing ensued. Triggered not by a sincere, voluntary revelation, mind you, but by circumstances that physically prevented the character from pursuing the goals he otherwise would continue chasing after. Over time the endless conversations and bouts of schizophrenia just glazed over in their repetitiveness for me.
Many of the characters also clung to highly romanticized notions of "honor" which made their motives/actions unrelatable and at times unrealistic. Sometimes they even got confused over conflicting honor codes and nearly sabotaged what their goal was in the first place. Other times they switched gears from a genuine emotional reaction to some intellectualized bushido ideal so quickly that I wanted to slap them. There was much facepalming on my end over this.
The 70-man battle should've been exciting, but it instead served as a perfect example of action over substance. Chapter after chapter of countless sword swings and I didn't care about any of these people. I love action, I truly do, but action only has meaning for me when there's something more at stake than just fighting stronger guys later. That's why my favorite fight, and the highlight of the series, was the twig battle between Sasaki and Musashi. It's sad when a twig battle is more exciting than a 70 man bloodbath.
A manga you can ignore if you're not into it for the art.
Neiru2012 pretty much brought up all of my distaste for this manga but I think it's unfair to over-simplify Vagabond using spoiler cases.
That is because Vagabond can simply be said to be Shamo set in a samurai period using a famous character like Mushashi.
***Skip to the last paragraph for summary***
This isn't so much saying one is a clone of the other or that one came before the other or that others came before these two.
It's simply my way of attempting to provide a low review without taking away what the manga is by
focusing on the specific spoiler designs.
Yes, Vagabond has a plot. Yes, Vagabond has characters. Yes, Vagabond's art is on one end great and on the other end requiring a certain taste.
Yet beyond all of these, none of these is what makes or breaks Vagabond.
The plot while a modified romanticized version still is stuck with the predictability of who Musashi is as a historical character.
The characters whether you find them generic or not is still not about them but about their way of fighting clashing with another way of fighting. While you can say manga/anime generally does this with fight scenes including such things like Rurouni Kenshin/Samurai X where it already borders on heavy handed, Vagabond goes beyond this. Not just subtlety. It only makes the scenes an actual fight scene so that you as a reader will still be excited to read it and it would satisfy those "awesome shiny fight scenes" reader but it is a true and true manga where the art invades everything and if it's not the art, it's the lack of a plot. It is almost Zen-like in that it portrays the conclusion of each plot as there being no plot.
In fact if this wasn't even about a Vagabond, the manga would not be seinen and believe it or not is more like Shojo with swords. If you focus too much on the female connotation of Shojo of course it's not. However if you consider Shojo to be more of a genre where the thousand mile stares and slice of life = tragedy and that all the characters are trapped in a mine of longing, I'm not exaggerating Vagabond is basically this.
This is both Vagabond's strength and weakness. More so than Shamo although Shamo equally has those unrealistic moments.
When Vagabond is dealing with a fight scene, an upcoming one, the combination wields an engaging plot that would make you curious as to what will happen next. In fact the later chapters pretty much spells this out with a major character retelling flashbacks more than the manga trying to be an adventure story anymore.
However when you remove the fight scenes, this is where both the Shojo and Seinen elements fail. Even though one reviewer said they liked that there's not much gratuitous violence compared to other Seinen, the thing is Vagabond's gore and nudity can be more disturbing than traditional gory manga.
Not because there's too much but rather because there's too much stupidity for almost the few times violence and death and nudity is shown. In it's attempt to be philosophic, Vagabond ends up making it's characters mere caricatures. Ones where the art and the panel storyline takes precedence over the overall storyline.
Don't get me wrong. In many ways this is why it's a good read. If you've ever wanted a semi-realistic portrayal of a goody imposter, a mute samurai, a horrible old lady that gets her just deserts, a woman who sees a flying chibi ghost, a monk who doesn't know what in the world he is doing and just tries to torture people he randomly comes again - Vagabond is almost comedy gold in that in a subtle manner.
The problem is: that's pretty much the entire manga. Even the violence and nudity falls under that same pattern where one panel is for an action scene that would please many fans who are into manga for the art or the eye candy and then the next panel, same situation, it would be text heavy and then the next panel there are guys that come off like they get cut down because they think too much. As in literally they get sliced up while they are thinking.
This doesn't mean the manga or the manga's fans just sweep over these flaws. The whole thing is supposed to represent a lightning fast event happening over an introspective event. It's like an event where someone shots a bullet at you and your mind flashes through everything and it's both a blur and yet after the fight, there's lots of rationalizing and events pouring through your brain.
Unfortunately, again, this is why the manga is both a good read but something you can skip. In many ways a philosophical text book has a limited audience and the philosophy has to stand the test of time. Atlas Shrugged for example is famous but unless you buy into this idea that Ayn Rand's themes are worth reading, then instead of being an enlightening read, it's just a classic. The same can be said for the Bible. Unless you're curious or got hooked by the flashy effects, a Biblical movie at the end of the day is just a flashy fantasy movie that tries to be philosophical but just ends up not being deep at all except for those people who they themselves are shallow but pretends to be philosophical in nature. The type of people that would re-interpret a realistic portrayal as a violently shocking one and be glued to the screen as if they watched a train wreck but then go on and complain about how a realistic scene is too gory or made too shocking because they themselves put on rosy tinted glasses that got shattered as opposed to the scenes being actually overtly violent.
Nonetheless I'm not saying Vagabond is a bad manga. Again, it's just a skippable one. If you like the first few chapters, go ahead and continue reading it. But if you start disliking the manga or if you start hoping for more or if you want to read another manga or if you're tired of the artwork, it's skippable. I'm not saying this for the benefit of those who have actually read the manga. Of course the choice is always there for all manga. I'm merely stating this case for those who haven't read the manga. Some mangas have a big pay off in arcs. Not just in terms of entertainment and philosophy and depth. Vagabond is just not one of those. The only reason it's a 7 because it understands what it is and that's a unique take on familiar characters and it tries to string along that characterization. However characterization alone is not enough if most of the additional scenes all ultimately fail for feeling like filler rather than philosophy.
To summarize: Philosophically, this does not even match up to Slam Dunk and Slam Dunk is not that deep of a manga to begin with. It's inspirational but it's not that deep. So imagine Vagabond being this way but trying to shove you more philosophy and less action and ultimately you get a 4 (decent) manga wrapped up in great artwork and historical fiction so it becomes a 7 but the hype for this manga is centered around entirely on the sizzle of Takehiko Inoue improving his artwork to do a samurai manga based on famous characters and not disappointing even though he doesn't break much new ground either.
Inoue Takehiko is known for being a legend, thanks to works like Slam Dunk - which is one of the best-selling manga series in history - or Vagabond - an adaptation from Eiji Yoshikawa book "Musashi".
Synopsis: In 1600 AD, Japan undergoes one of the most turbulent periods of its history. The young Takezo, with his friend Matahachi, leaves the Miyamoto village to fight in the Battle of Sekigahara. Although they dream of fame and glory, they only find defeat and a path full of uncertainties. Follow the journey of bloody fighting and spiritual challenges of this fearless swordsman, who was
known to posterity as the great samurai Miyamoto Musashi!
Based on the epic novel of Eiji Yoshikawa with the breath-taking art of Takehiko Inoue, this comic book classic is one of the most awarded works of Japan's greatest hero!
Before Takezo becomes Musashi, the reader sees the character as a boy from the Miyamoto village, Mimasaka province, who can attract the fear of anyone and who lives almost exclusively from his intelligence, therefore an isolated boy of the world. At age 17, he and Matahachi went to war and this is where the story of Vagabond begins, with the end of the Battle of Sekigahara. It is from here that two personalities appear, Shinmen Takezo and Honiden Matahachi.
Takezo quickly gains reputation as someone who kills without mercy or pity, anyone who crosses his path and this leads to Takezo becoming a problem, since the hunters in his own village want him dead. Eventually and later in the story, monk Takuan and his childhood friend, Otsu, plan to help capture Takezo who is later held in a tree for several days without water or food. During this time, Tsukizake Kohei, the younger brother of a thug whom Takezo killed (and who gave him a reputation), comes claim his revenge against Takezo (although he himself wanted to kill only his brother), however Takuan scares him and the character disappears.
At the end of this arc, Takuan takes Takezo to a remote area around the village and talks to him about what he should do and that his soul is not as evil as the rest of the people thinks he is. The monk portrays to him that those who do not know the darkness, will never be able to know the true light and that Takezo must carry with itself the darkness itself. And this is how Miyamoto ends arc - chapters 1-21 (volumes 1-2)
The change from volume 2 to volume 3 is incredibly well done, and the character Shinmen Takezo completely transforms and changes name to Miyamoto Mushashi (the true legend that existed in real life in Japan).
Monk Takuan states that Shinmen Takezo officially died in Miyamoto village and now, who is there is Miyamoto Musashi and all this happens to avoid problems with the village itself, the Honi'den clan and the maturation of the samurai. Musashi is now 21 years old and travels to Kyoto with the goal of looking for strong swordsmen to challenge. He heads to the Yoshioka sword fighting school, where his father's name was extremely well known, but before he gets there, he unknowingly sees the current Yoshioka Seijuro schoolboy surrounded by geishas in the city. After exchanging a few words, Seijuro remits to him that he will kill him and Musashi without realizing it, feels the horror when the sword of Seijuro was in his neck. Fearless, Musashi heads for the school and challenges the owner, but first he is forced to face many of those who train there, after some of the lower class members insult him. Musashi kills five members of a higher class, until finally Yoshioka Denshichirō, the more serious of the two sons of Yoshioka Kempo, decides to kill Musashi himself. In a very dramatic battle, one that Seijurō intervenes in once to give Musashi the scar on his forehead, Musashi also manages to dislocate Denshichirō's shoulder, but the fight does not end until Hon'iden Matahachi accidentally sets the school building on fire, after drinking much of the sake stored in the basement, bemoaning the "inevitable" death of his newfound hero (Musashi, to which he called him a pilgrim samurai) who stood up to the Yoshioka. Denshichirō then tells Musashi to come back stronger within a year for a rematch.
Musashi escapes with his life and once Matahachi realized that Takezo was in fact Musashi, Matahachi decides to return to his old life. This becomes the beginning of an inferiority complex and a rivalry that will influence him for the rest of his life. Then begins Hōzōin arc- chapters 33-76 (volumes 4-8)
Takuan encourages Musashi to be a more serious person with regard to his training ethic and who should not jeopardize his life so easily but Musashi still has a lot to learn. He then goes on his way and separates himself from Takuan, for the purpose of visiting the temple of Hozoin because of his famous spear technique. Gion Toji, the Yoshioka school killer who aims to kill Musashi, first arrives at the temple. He cuts off the hands of a monk who challenges him and proclaims that he will do the same again every day, before finding Musashi, throwing the temple into turmoil and malaise. Musashi appears in the temple the next day and fights with Agon, one of the top-level monks. Musashi actually looked for In'ei, the legendary old schoolmaster who, unknowingly, retired from office. Agon recognizes that this must be Musashi and seeking both to end the turmoil that Toji caused and defend the name of Hozoin, then fight with Musashi. At some point in the fight, Musashi finds himself without a sword but manages to end the fight, breaking Agon's nose. Gion Toji then defies Musashi, but before they can start the fight, Inshun, the new schoolmaster and son prodigy in the spear, stops the fight, wanting to fight with Musashi himself. Toji backs off and Musashi has a head-to-head with Inshun. Musashi gets tired and disturbed and so he retreats a little to catch his breath. The elderly In'ei feels that while Inshun, his greatest student, brilliantly mastered the physical art of the spear, he was unable to control himself or his soul, for he believes Inshun needs a rival good enough to Perfect his abilities and for this, he believes that Musashi could become this rival. In the end, Musashi has a second battle with Inshun, with only In'ei and Agon as witnesses. Having learned a lot from his training on the rival and his demons, Musashi rules the spirit of Ishun. He can dodge an opponent's attack, knocking him down with his own (handmade) sword. After that, he goes back to his wild self (personality disorder) and starts beating Inshun repeatedly while he lies stretched out on the floor. Both are quickly treated of their wounds and depart in the hope of trying not to kill themselves the next time they meet.
So far, Vagabond has been an abysmal experience, making other seinen works look like mere toys for children. Master Takehiko Inoue has reformulated the seinen genre to a whole new level, unlike anything and everyone, including the reader, must value it. Vagabond is perhaps the most complex story of the author, due to his historical experience and the adaptation of one of the greatest samurai ever. The author also shows and portrays the contrast that exists with Musashi, who wants to be the "best under the sun" and Matahachi, where his goal was to be a family man. Matahachi chooses pleasurable but momentary moments, while Musashi chooses to dedicate himself and improve himself. Both make mistakes and both have their ways of solving certain problems. Matahachi is filled with problems while Musashi rises above his countertops and strengthens himself to unbelievable proportions. After surviving numerous battles until a bitter end and overcoming many personal struggles (the decision to leave his only love, Otsu, to pursue the life of the sword), only a swordsman is still in the path of Musashi.
There are also flashbacks from Shinmen Takezo's father, Shinmen Munisai, who was one of the most famous samurai from across the country. When Takezo was young, his father divorced his mother and forced Takezo to learn martial arts. Takezo wanted very much to see his mother again and shows him how much he grew up but his mother rejected him, telling him to return to his father's feet. And this caused that there was no affection for his parents, with which Takezo passed and that grew with him. And with this lack of affection, also appeared the fear towards his father. On several occasions, young Musashi tried to assassinate his father but he never succeeded, which made him always suffer physically. It was until one day, that Takezo began to know the mountains, through the forest, and began to calm with the nature beauty. And with this calm, came the will to train and develop an approach with the mother-nature. There was a time, when Takezo found the corpse of a swordsman in a cave and was impressed, hoping to be like him. As a child, Takezo became an intimate friend of Hon'iden Matahachi and Otsū.
While the story drags a little, in the Yoshioka Arc, in Vagabond, the story and its contextualization is full of emotions and battles of realistic and painful swords. This adaptation is relatively short in dialogue but the images that the author presents, speak for themselves. A picture is worth a thousand words and this work lives up to the saying. It is only a pity that other authors do not adopt this style and do not make their history so profound to the point of Vagabond. All manga volumes really let the reader think about what they actually read from their own production.
In Vagabond, there are no enemies, but opponents. There is no quantity, but quality. There is no fantasy, it is an adaptation. There is no imagination, but reality. There is no egocentrism, it's all life lessons.
Personal Note: Currently finish reading the Hōzōin arc – chapters 33–76 (volumes 4–8). Favorite manga when talking about art, plot, adaptation, characters, personality, charisma, plot points and fights. Yes, Inoue is a legend and here is the proof.
This is my first review and possibly the only review i will ever write.
Vagabond it's only the second manga i've read and the reason why i'm writing this review, it's because while reading this manga i started to notice how good this manga became to me. It's truly a masterpiece and to be honest, i don't think i can find another one like this. I enjoy reading this manga so much, i started to feel a certain empathy to Musashi's feelings because whenever he questions his ability and his strength or feels clueless about the true meaning of being invicible, i start to question
myself too. Whatever he feels, i shall feel too. Creepy. Anyway, Vagabond or should i say Inoue Takehiko, brings us closer to the dimension he created and brings us the best and worst of mankind and/or life. The rise and fall of great men. The circle of life and death. The gore, sex and the casual order of life. The thing that i like the most is the complexity and simplicity of all the characters in Vagabond. Mushashi is at first, a demon-like child, an outcast by society, a warrior that fights to be invincible under the sun. It's amazing to see how he grows to not only be invincible but also to question what to be invincible means. But he can only reach that answer through Inei, old man Yagyu and Takuan. For me, Vagabond and all these characters taught me how important it is to love and to be loved, how love can erase such thoughts of invinciblity. It also taught me the simple values of life and by choosing to live by that philosophy, you can be truly happy. Musashi is slowly learning them or maybe he already know that but the desire of being truly invincible and chasing the meaning of being it, makes him choose whats really the best for him. From one of the best, we go to one of the worst men in the Vagabond universe and that man is Matahachi. He's a Musashi wannabe that tries his best to be like him but fails and taints his soul with the deviant ways of the perverted ronin that he is. I like him anyways. He lost all, love, home and a mother to become something he isn't. Musashi was already born with that mighty warrior spirit of his, but Matahachi lacks that. Kojiro on the other hand, is the most simple character i laid my eyes on. He does not have the desire to be invincible or to be the best , altough Ittosai tries to put that aura on Kojiro. I see Kojiro as a man that never totally grew up, he still has that face of a child that plays outside on the sunny days. He is happy. I never saw him sad. I think we all can learn from Kojiro and Musashi.
I'm sorry if i didn't mention the story above. Overall, Vagabond is a manga worth reading and worth waiting a month for the next volume and worth waitng a whole lifetime to see its development. i hope it never ends but that is a stupid thing to say. I questioned why Vagabond isn't an anime already. It's such a good manga it doesn't need to be an anime. Why possibly ruin a perfect thing? If you read my review, thank you and sorry if you didn't like it but i thought this was the best way to expresss my happiness in reading Vagabond and i wanted to share it with other people. Thank you.
Here's a hint: listen to Nujabes while reading Vagabond. It's something out of this world.
Vagabond is the story of Musashi Miyamoto, the most famous samurai, inspired by the novel "Musashi".
This is one of the best and most simple natured stories I've ever read.
The story follows Musashi on his way to becoming the strongest, Invincible Under The Heavens. How he grows, from a wild ruffian, to a respectable man by slowly realising the importance of close friends, self-reflection and life itself. The story also follows our secondary protagonist, Sasaki Kojiro who also aims to be Invincible Under The Heavens, with a child-like personality and amazing skills with the sword, he is destined to fight Musashi one day. The premise
is quite simple, but the story and characters can get so deep.
These are the deepest and most humane characters I have seen in any manga. Each character has his goals, the way he approaches them and his personality. Some of the best side characters in any manga, each one dealing with his own problems. Musashi who grows to be a respectable man, Sasaki who seeks to fight stronger opponents, Matahachi whom only falls lower and lower into the life of a scum. Many great characters which would take too long to list. When a character is meant to be dislikeable, oh boy do you hate him, when a character is meant to be likeable, probably going to be your favourite character ever.
Unlike many other manga with their bland and uninspired art, Vagabond chooses a more proportionate and realistic way to express itself. This is probably the best art in any manga, being just as good as the story and characters, with great landscapes, beautifully drawn characters and tons of detail. The art is clean and conveys every emotion right, there are no times where the panels will confuse you like certain other manga
Vagabond is both a visual and a literary masterpiece with zero to no flaws besides the fact that it's on hiatus. On top of all that it has some of the best fight scenes in existence.
I've been enjoying reading manga most of my life, but in the last few years, I've been trying to get a little more out of it than used to, trying to understand what makes great storytelling.
So, I bought volume one quite a while ago, after seeing Takehiko Inoue's art featured on pinterest and after researching him and seeing what many of you had to say about Vagabond, I had little to none doubt that it would be great. 20 volumes later, I must say that I was quite disappointed. It is a good book and I understand what people see in it but... Was this
all it has to offer?
The art is pretty great, at least from a technical standpoint. So it troubles me to say that it seems to fail to understand how moment to moment action works, the world surrounding the characters doesn't have the effect it should portraying a battle in a tridimensional environment therefore the hits don't connect as they probably should. Obviously the author is really talented, and pulls off great stills, and his skill with the sumi brush is impressive.
It doesn't help that every single action has to be explained, this is somewhat a trope in shonen manga, but here you do not have an excuse, you are talking with adults (Show don't tell). I understand you need some reaction shots sometimes, but one per swing seems quite excessive.
It also, doesn't excel on its pacing and character progression, I would have said something more about it, but I don't think this was ever the focus.
The book is good, and there's great content to be found within its pages, but I would aim anyone akin to my tastes interested in the story of Miyamoto Musashi, towards the book "Musashi" by Eiji Yoshikawa. Also if you want to know where I come from in this particular review, read "Blade of the Immortal" a book that might have some questionable content, but might be my favorite representation of action in sequential art.
Thank you for reading, and I hope I didn't trigger any negative feelings through my opinion.
What is amazing about this manga is how well the action scenes are drawn. Normally I have a hard time following manga action scenes that are too crowded or just a character in a pose with lots of "action lines" all over the place. With Vagabond you really get a sense of how the characters move--the speed, the timing, just how close the near misses are--you can see it all.
In addition the characters' eyes jump off the page. You really feel like they are looking you right in the eyes. The faces are so unique in how they are
wrinkled or have blemishes and scars which make the characters distinct.
The artist really is a great director. The "camera," if you will, is well placed to capture the action and drama--often with cutaways where you feel like you can still hear the swords ringing but the camera is facing a peaceful scene nearby. The scenery always adds to the mood whether it's a cloudy day in a dense forest, a bright morning in a small village, or the deep night at the beach under a bright moon.
The story is excellent and now with 166 chapters read all the various characters are becoming interconnected in the larger story. The characters are seeking to be strong and they live their lives by the sword, but they often ask themselves what exactly does it mean to be strong, and they sometimes question whether living by the sword is a good idea.
Again, the artwork really does it for me. I wouldn't say it's particularly beautiful, but it's so effective. It really feels like I'm watching more than reading. I can almost hear what's going on and see the action taking place. Definitely worth reading.
This is arguably the best manga--or for the most part--ONE of the most engaging, captivating and exhilarating pieces of literature I have ever read!
At first, I was hesitant... I had originally thought: "Really?... Samurais and stuff? Nah... I'll take a pass".
Then reading more into genre and looking at other images: "ehh... another over-grown and nonsensical Seinen that over-glorifies gore... it looks great... it sounds simple..."
And now my current thoughts on it: "I acclaim this as the ultimate EPIC in the form of manga, while also adopting beautiful and masterfully drawn and painted artworks, exhibited and splashed throughout the pages and so forth..."
The fruition of beautiful
characters demonstrate conceptual ideas that really make the reader think. Though the archetypal traits and tropes of a "person who was birthed to be fledged and beautiful" VS. "The weak and pathetic one" still stands as rather monotonous and generic definitively; the almost coalescent and methodical ways the pictorials and gradual literary development unfold is utterly magnificent. This is only further reinforced with the EVEN-MORE magnificent artwork.
I was sucked-in and essentially inside the world of 'Vagabond', and gosh golly it was fantastic!
Reading aspects of the story, with nods to character progressive montages and to further my point; the other fleshing out of diverse characters, I was really in another world. Though this overlays with my first and only problem... The enjoyment factor: critically through, within the first reading there were no apparent problems--rather all of my time was consumed by the sheer captivation and adoration I had towards this manga. Thereafter, following volumes and arcs had me in somewhat of a lapse. I had raised my bar of expectation beyond belief only to be laterally disappointed, though this bar had been satiated with Sasaki Kojiro, which was later again disappointed with the following arcs. Though, do not get me wrong, this disappointment was incredibly tiny, one I can just easily wipe away--this was the main reason I didn't enjoy it to it's maximum potential. (which is predominantly my fault)
But this in itself is what made me think about the value of story--in which we are told; how do we technically value story? But that is for another time...
It’s an old story. The hero is Musashi Miyamoto; the greatest samurai who ever lived, author of that esoteric sword-fighting guide that I couldn’t get past the first page of. His legend was brought to a more international audience with the film series starring Toshiro Mifune. While it would be impossible for another actor to outperform Mifune as the samurai master, the realm of manga can achieve the impossible. I was never a huge manga geek, but I’ve read a decent amount of the most highly-acclaimed. Vagabond is without a doubt the most incredibly drawn manga I’ve ever read.
The way of the sword in Japan
has always reminded me of Hinduism’s yogic paths. The samurai strives for utter mastery of the self much like a yogi in the wilderness. The biggest difference is the amount of bloodshed. Eastern religion and philosophy has often centered on perfectibility. According to belief, through many life-times the Hindu or Buddhist can reach a divine state through practicing austerities and mastering the body and mind. There are various yogic paths ranging from study to sex. But what of the soldier? The creation of bushido in Japan was very convenient for emperors and shoguns of all sorts. To become a master in the art of slaughter… was a spiritual matter!
Mushashi, born Shinmen Takezo, wants to be the strongest samurai of all time. It’s not an uncommon hero motivation. Ash Ketchum is still trying to be the very best pokemon trainer there ever was. Unlike the many seasons of Pokemon however, Vagabond shows the consequences of this “heroic” desire. Takezo slaughters man after man; some are horrible bandits, some are honorable samurai, some are confused boys with swords. All this is done for Takezo’s quest for perfection. An interesting character, almost a comic relief, is the Buddhist monk Takuan. He serves as Takezo’s Jiminy Cricket throughout the manga; his irritating conscience. If the dialogue between characters were a debate, Takuan demolishes Takezo in every single one. He exposes Takezo’s masquerade: savage bloodlust in the guise of honor. Although Takezo doesn’t heed much of this advice in the beginning, his staunch mindset is gradually assaulted by the monk’s reason.
As Takezo’s story progresses, we slowly come to understand the “way of the sword” that he is striving for. To be the very best there ever was… was a bastardization of his true goal that he didn’t even know he had. Zen Buddhism took hold in Japan as a synthesis of the Buddha’s teachings and Lao Tsu’s “Taoism.” The Tao is the Way; a romantic belief in natural spontaneity, or being in tune with the natural way of things. An obvious reason why this took hold in Japan is because of the Shinto tradition which also taught union with nature. In Vagabond, Takezo meets various masters of the sword who teach him about this path. He no longer fights for egotistical pride, but for union with… the natural order of things. It’s all very romantic, but very Eastern. The hero of the philosophical West might fight for deep moral principles ordained by God so he might be forgiven for his life full of sin, but the philosophically Eastern hero fights in an eternal search for divine union with the universe.
Vagabond is, aside from being an incredible character-driven story of Zen Buddhism and the ronin lifestyle, a beautiful manga. To the most philosophically ignorant—or apathetic—individual, Vagabond will be an engaging action packed ride to be lost in for hours on end. The VIZ Big editions of the manga are quite expensive in total, but it’s worth the investment to own this story for the rest of one’s life. Vagabond will probably never actually conclude as a manga, but I’m not sure Miyamoto Musashi’s quest ever concluded either.
once you start to read this manga you're going to be hooked.
Vagabond is one of a kind manga , comedy , romance,action,blood,a little bit of drama.
the most thing i like about it are the art and the outstanding fighting scenes, i really enjoyed reading it whileI'm reading it i feel like i'm with them the story is very nice , there's no telling whats going to happen next .
i must say it has many blood , nude scenes .
if you like Samurai,bloody manga/anime ,
this one is for .
The veteran mangaka Takehiko Inoue(Slam Dunk) brings another canonical work to the manga world. Vagabond based off of The Book of Five Rings, tells the tale of the legendary samurai Miyamoto Musashi. Amidst the clamoring swords, and spurts of blood, there lies a deeper and more satisfying existential quest, that Musashi slowly begins to unravel. Inoue punctuates this journey with deliberate pacing, and beautiful watercolor paintings; the likes of which I have rarely seen of the hundreds of manga I have read.
My favorite part of this manga is the character growth for Musashi, from an selfish boy, to enlightened master swordsman.
The story, art,
character, come together to make Vagabond a high standard for all Seinen manga.
You will find little ecchi, or standard j-rpg characters here. Only the broken fingers, flying severed heads, and liters upon liters of blood.
The first thing that came to my mind when I saw this manga was "Boring, dreary and (judging by the cover) crappy artwork". But when I actually read it, I was simply blown away by the quality of it. It is truly a masterpeice and here's why.
The storyline is astounding. It has its own personal flair to it and it moved me. It is very deep and philosphical so if you don't like confusing and long stories, this ain't for you.
The artwork is amazing and it actually has that traditional, feaudal Japanese feel to it. And if you are stoned enough, makes you feel
like you are there.
The characters are a lively bunch and they are have their own distinct personalities that not only make them feel lifelike, but also brings the story alive as well. They also improve the storyline thus, making the manga unrivalled and beautiful.
Although it is great, there are a few minor flaws and a few nasty sex scenes which you might wanna mentally block out but they never deter the quality of the manga.
I recommend this manga for readers who are into samurai stuff, Feudal Japanese stuff and deep, rich stories that make you think.
In short, you are in for an action packed, philosphical rollercoaster ride which will take away your breath and make you look at Feudal Japan in a whole new way.
“Preoccupied with a single leaf... you won't see the tree. Preoccupied with a single tree... you'll miss the entire forest. Don't be preoccupied with a single spot. See everything in it's entirety... effortlessly. That is what it means to truly "see.”
― Takehiko Inoue
this quote to me from the mangaka that made quite possibly my favorite fictional/ non- fictional work ever, summarizes his finest, most masterful and all the above work, vagabond.this quote is what i learned from vagabond. it crystallizes musashi's (the mc) main hidden struggle throughout the story. i shalln't give much more but know that vagabond for what its worth is a
true seinen masterpiece with realized characters, stellar art, and an engaging story and every thing you expect from a samurai action seinen series. also, note that its amazing how this quite possibly is an account of a real person's life, its astounding, the account of the real sword saint's life. musashi miyamoto.
i want to talk about the art in on its own, i love to draw and might say that iam quite good at it. so trust me when i say that this man's artstyle is impeccable, its realistic asf and just feels too perfect and fitting of the story vaga bond is. the backgrounds are drawn with photo realistic details, the characters have life flowing through them just from the artstyle, excluding all the other factors to judge a character upon. it feels too real to be a manga,, the only other series that i can put on the same level or above with just abit is berserk, interms of artstyle that is (also i actually prefer vagabond over berserk Lol).
i really do wanna talk more in depth about the story and characters and just everything, but would take too long and far too much time Lol. so basically if u havent read vagabond yet. YOU SHOULD. i recommend it to everybody, and especially those enamored by japanese culture and samurais general and also just people who enjoy well thought out stories and beautiful characters.
also i wrote this review randomly today just because, although i finished vagabond a year ago or something. idk it just still resonates with me and i think about alot from time to time, thats what true masterpieces are gentlemen and gentlewoman. anyways have a good day and READ VAGABOND.
So, where do I start about this absolute jewel of a manga. Should I talk about the art, the story, the author or the main man mushashi himself. Everything in this manga was a perfect 10 baring just one thing that I personally wasn't very fond of, which I would talk about in the end.
The plot of the manga follows primarily Takezo aka Mushashi on his journey to become arguably the greatest swordsmen that ever lived. The story follows the trials and hardship he faced along the journey. The aspect of the story that I liked the most was the fact that the author stressed
on the importance of mental growth to be stronger rather than purely focusing on the physical growth. Throughout the story Mushashi piece by piece put together the answer to his question, "What it meant to be truly strong?" unlike most of the manga wherein the MC just magically gets the answer during the fight. Also, another surprisingly great story was that of Mushashi's friend Matahachi. It was a side story but hell it was so good. The side story focused on the lazy and lost Matahachi and how he learnt to be kind and courageous.
Being a character driven story , the characters were of sublime importance. And herein where the manga truly excelled. Each character was extremely well written with their specific set of back stories, quirks, motivations and ambitions. Even though Mushashi was well written I personally felt that it was Matahachi who was the most well written and real character. He had dreams, he faltered, he got lost, he got angry, he started to hate himself though with time he picked himself up. Isn't it what happens in reality too? Most of us get lost in life when we don't know what to do next but in time and with different experiences we pick ourselves up and possibly go on the right track. Unlike mushashi who was exceptional in himself, most of the readers would relate more with more human characters like Matahchi and Otsu. Otsu too was pretty well written character. The only faulty character was Sasaki Koujiro in my opinion. He was deaf and mute, and honestly the most difficult character to write. Even though the author has done commendable work, yet something felt missing in him compared to other characters. Even after around 60 odd chapters dedicated to him I felt Sasaki didn't have any ambitions or growth of any kind. He was the most difficult to relate to, even though there have been other pretty well written characters who were differently abled. I for one felt Sasaki existed in the story just for Mushashi to have a strong opponent and nothing else.
The artwork was flawless wherein I or no one should have any complaints. Each panel was just a work of beauty, nothing short of what you would expect from Inoue sensei. It was by far the most beautifully drawn manga I have ever read.
What more can I say, I for one was blown away by this manga and was hooked. And when I say hooked I mean that I read about 100+ chapters a day which never happens. For all people reading this review stop reading this and do go read the manga. You will absolutely love it.
Its rare I am changed on a spiritual and philosophical level by a piece of media. Sure I may form certain opinions after consuming a story or movie, however Vagabond is the only story to every completely change how I look at life.
To absurdly oversimplify it, Vagabond is a story of self improvement and finding your place in the world. Before I read Vagabond I didn't know where to go with my life. But soon after starting it I realised this wasn't a normal manga, this was different.
By volume 10 I had already been so motivated by Musashi and his journey that my grades at
school had improved exponentially. Vagabond taught me what it means to push oneself to you absolute limits. Reaching your potential is important, but more important is realising life continues after you reach your goals. And that's okay. Life doesn't have an epic conclusion, it is a single long journey from start to a end. Though you won't have some Hollywood conclusion to your story, you can accomplish many goals along the way and it is important to constantly be pushing yourself, for when you stop trying is when you lose your way.
There will be no spoilers in this review don't worry
Story: 10/10 Vagabond follows the journey of Miyomoto Musashi and loosely follows the actual life of Musashi. Over the course of his journey Musashi is taught numerous things by the people he encounters. This taught me to seek knowledge from people I meet. I'm everyone has stories to tell and things to teach you, meeting new people and discovering new things is a great way to progress towards your goals. Musashi's development doesn't happen in huge jumps, but instead happens over the course of the story. All his experiences shape who he is.
Art: 10/10 I doubt I need to say much about the art. Vagabond is notorious for having amazing art, and is considered by many to have the best art of all manga. Reading a Vagabond chapter generally takes me a lot longer than normal because I find myself staring at each page admiring the beautiful art, only to realise I haven't even read the words yet.
Characters: 10/10 A big part of Vagabond is seeing how each character grows, and the anticipation of their eventual dual or interaction. I've found myself wishing some characters didn't have to right because I enjoy both so much, and would be saddened if one were to die. The fact I care so much about character throughout this story shows how compelling they care. Each Vagabond character feels like their own person and the main character or their own story. It just happens that we are following Musashi's. I am always excited to learn a characters back story and to find out how they become the person they are. These feel like real people with real emotions, and I hope I find another story that makes me love a stories character as much as Vagabond.
Enjoyment: 10/10 There have been many times over the course of Vagabond where I have literally been on the edge of my seat in anticipation. Excitingly turning the page and trying to keep my cool as I fanboy over how amazing the action scenes and dialogue are. Even arcs that some may consider "boring" are very enjoyable to me. This story is a hood example of how to write what seems like boring things in an exciting way. There's literally an arc about farming, and its one if my favourites in all of manga because of how well it is written and portrayed.
Flaws: The series is currently unfinished, and by the looks of it won't be finished for a very long time as its on a long hiatus. That's literally all the flaws I can think about.
Overall: 10/10 I understand that Vagabond isn't for everyone, but I would 100% recommended it to literally everyone. I have become a better person (in my opinion) after reading Vagabond. And if you find yourself lost in the world, in a dark place or just feeling depressed in general. I urge you to read this story, it helped me in more ways than I can describe and I hope it can do the same for you.
When I first read Vagabond My first impressions were that the Art style was amazing but each chapter didn't really contain much content or that the pacing was too slow. Story wise I thought it was average until it finally expanded more on it's characters which later on are what make Vagabond great. The plot of becoming the strongest swordsman is pretty basic, makes it seem like just another fighting manga. There's a lot of philosophical aspects that I love involved every other chapter, like characters questioning why they are the way they are and why they can't stop being that way. My favorite aspect
of this manga other than the art is the inner monologue of the main character, having this aspect you can see the evolution of the character's way of thinking.