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Shinmen Takezo is destined to become the legendary sword-saint, Miyamoto Musashi--perhaps the most renowned samurai of all time. For now, Takezo is a cold-hearted killer, who will take on anyone in mortal combat to make a name for himself. This is the journey of a wild young brute who strives to reach enlightenment by way of the sword--fighting on the edge of death.
Won the 24th Kodansha Manga Award for Best General Manga.
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Emotionally moving, adrenaline pumping
It might not be believed, but I do not use the word 'masterpiece' lightly, but you know what? Vagabond qualifies.
It is an artistic rewrite of the story of the great warrior Miyamoto Musashi. It begins after a pivotal moment in his life (Battle of Sekigahara), but the manga also takes pain to provide a relentless amount of exposition/back story/different perspectives/etc, so one always seem to have a strong grasp of the story and characters. It is also incredibly helpful in creating very human characters who are at times repulsive and sympathetic at other times.
All in all, I feel that the manga's strength lies in the artwork (unsurprisingly) and its ability to weave an immersive, moving, and emotionally involving tale. When there is a battle, I really felt a rush of adrenaline and a sense of excitement. When there is a death, I really felt touched and, admittedly, I sometimes bawled like a baby. Some subplots in the manga really hit me hard with that and the manga definitely likes throwing tearjerkers.
The manga takes an unflinching approach to the realities the characters face. Battles are bloody and full of maimed body parts, prostitutes are plentiful and celebrated, secondary characters faces incoming terror with a mix of blatantly cowardliness, resignation, and stoicism. It can get a bit intense at times, but it works.
I speak highly of the manga and rightfully so, but it does have its weaknesses. Not all of the characters are written well (including some very important characters) making for a weaker story at times, story arcs sometimes drag on and this feels worse during the less interesting arcs or moments in the story, a tendency for the characters to sometimes get into self-important nonsensical preaches about life, and etc.
Overall, the problems are relatively minor and Vagabond is still easily among the best mangas around. All possible recommendations to give this a chance!
May the opinion will differ among the readers, I will still say that this manga is one of the masterpiece that I found during my journey in life. Hahaha... well, I guess a bit exaggeration will bring no harm, especially for this manga... Okay let's start reviewing...
The story is magnificent overall (truly...), yet may some readers can not tolerate the slowing pace in some arc. As for me, this slowing pace is quite understandable and necessary. It's necessary because with the slowing pace, I could relate more with the "enlightened" process that Musashi got during some arc. And somehow, I get "enlightened" too...
The art... is magnificent (truly...), some reviewers has said it before, so no need to restated it again
The romance, comedy, saddening event, etc. is composed magnificently (truly)... no too much, not too little, all is put with the right amount.
I mus say I learn a lot by reading manga... it forms my perspective in seeing life and, I can say, it forms my personality as well. This one... is the one who taught me a lot... once again... a lot.
Thanks for the author of the manga and the novel (and of course, the scanlators)... Hope the God will repay you somehow... Good luck!
sounds like i'm going against the grain, but..
this is one of the biggest pieces of poo of a storyline i've read in awhile. has great art, great action scenes but by god you have the stupidest of protagonists for the sake of making this manga last forever. you had a grandmaster on his deathbed practically spell out what he was looking for, and then he later sits around thinking about what he should be looking for.. i literally couldn't care for anything after awhile when i started having zero interest in the main character.
i'm probably more angry about it than other (even more) badly developed stories since i put so much time into this thinking that "it's going to get better, right?" and then getting my hopes constantly squashed over and over again.
... Last updated on October 12th, 2013, 1:34pm
Philosophy meets Action: Epic
Someone warned me before I started buying this manga that I would eventually be addicted to it. I didn't believe him back then, and, I ended up being just exactly what he said--addicted.
Vagabond is drawn by Inoue Takehiko, the person who made Slam Dunk a massive hit. The art is extremely detailed. I said extremely and I mean it. I really like the art style, which not only suits the tone of the story but is often made fabulous with Inoue's exceptional watercolor skill. The art seen here is much better than Slam Dunk's, and probably the best of all his work. Of all the manga arts, Vagabond's is one of the best with no doubt.
Backed up with wonderful art is the epic story. It is a great adaptation of Japanese history's trivia about the renowned Samurais Musashi and Kojiro. The story combines philosophy and action very well. The characters are fairly real. The story involves things like 'life', 'true strength', developments of a person's spirit, stuff like that. Seems boring right? Well, it's actually enjoyable! The presentation of the story's sequences is really engaging. There are symbols, and symbolic action to consider in the manga too.
If you decide to pick this to read, you will be watching Musashi as he grows up both physically and mentally. The story will also give you some deep thoughts about life.
... Last updated on October 1st, 2013, 8:50am
very good but its not for everyone
reviews on vagabond seems to be mixed. the way i see it, most of people start reading this manga expecting action-packed scenes with a lot of gore and endless enemies and continuous fighting.
vagabond is not just about fighting its about musashi's journey to enlightenment and the fighting is just one of the ways through which he hopes to achieve that. i think it's very deep. i've heard martial arts masters learning through observing nature and i think that's one of the things the author the hopes to portray in this manga. you will see musashi observing rivers, the flow water, honing his skill through plowing the earth into paddy fields, things like that. that's why its full of your so-called philosophical "mumbo jumbo". you may get into expecting a lot of battles and find yourself seeing musashi alone in the road contemplating the scenery.
i read the book after i caught up to the manga and its mostly the same. i think the portrayal of his growth in the manga is better.
Spoiler (mouse over to view)
in the book, the young and wild musashi spent 3 years in a dark room filled with books (he mostly quotes the art of war) and he came out a changed man. while in the manga he gradually matures during his journey
and about the romance in the manga..
Spoiler (mouse over to view)
the relationship between the musashi and otsu is apparently the idea of romantic love in japan at the time or something like that according to the introduction in the book. i personally didn't like the romantic parts in the story it seemed weird to me.
so if you'd like to try reading this manga, be warned that this is more philosophical than action and if you didn't like it you can just read berserk or something else.
... Last updated on August 7th, 2013, 10:26pm
I read the novel from Eiji Ishikawa after starting Vagabond. The manga is not following the novel 100% but captures really well the ambiance/spirit. In addition to the philosophical questions, I just love the drawing which is just beautiful. Each and every drawing is a work of art. I read a lot of manga from different styles but none like this ne. Definitly my favorite with GTO :-)
This manga is amazing. If you find it boring, go read some shonen manga. Inoue takes a philosophic, naturalistic approach to describe Musashi's growth and tribulations to find what it truly means to be strong. The art is mangificent and helps to convey the feeling of a realistic and historical accurate atmosphere. The fights are gory but beautifully drawn and devoid of the usual blabber about special techniques or egomaniacal rants. Midway trough the manga art shifts from a polished, accurate style to a more raw, minimal one, similar to the classical japanese paintings of the era. A new classic.
... Last updated on April 8th, 2012, 1:25am
Wow this series is finally off hiatus... I never thought I would see the day again that another chapter was released. Soo happy! I look forward to more chapters being released in the future.
This manga is amazing. This manga is amazing. This manga is amazing. This manga is amazing. This manga is amazing. Seriously, some things take time fully develop, and when they do develop, they turn out to be a grand masterpiece. This book was loosely based Miyamoto Musashi, and tells his life - his way of the sword philosophy and legendary two sword art. And as for the art, it looks like Japanese people to me - realistic.
i was anticipating a lot considering the hype, but i was greatly disappointed. the art and the sporadic action sequences are decent, but the story, though realistic it may be, is just plain annoying. i really can't stand any of the characters throughout and for me to want to read a manga, i have to have at least have one character in it i can root for