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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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Your Mileage May Vary
Well, I agree with people saying Oh I should have loved this but for some reason I didn't. I like brutal fights, slice of life and general badasses, but I can't love Vagabond. Yes it might be too slow, and the author just had to keep implying that the story will be like an epic too. I found myself asking: will anything remotely resembling a plot twist take up a volume by itself? If an entire chapter or two, I can't remember, were spent building up tension for and fighting simple small fries, what will the arc for the big boss look like? Well yes those pages were also introducing our characters, but it doesn't justify so many one-two pages spreads.
For the length of the pages I read which might have numbered close 200, I noticed that Inoue didn't set out to impress. His style of slice of life might have resembled a little too nearly the period life, which could have worked, had it not been a century since then. We tend to prize realism with regard to the current period and appreciate its criticism of society, but this series of a man's struggles plainly wasn't interesting enough to hold attention, much less cause controversy.
In fact, I was basically unmoved by anything except the occasional instances of great artwork. Oh look, they're survivors of war! They're sympathetic thieves! Even though their circumstances inspire, their personalities are far too removed from me to be able to give a damn. Add that to the simple plot (but not simplistic, to be fair), ugly women littering the panels, and Vagabond proves to be a frustrating read. Of course, this is apparently a case of Your Mileage May Vary.
... Last updated on July 14th, 2011, 11:54pm
Amazing art. Fantastic action. One man on a journey. Sure, this manga can be quite slow, with all the philosophy about sword-fighting, but that's what makes it an authentic samurai manga. Forget the fact that samurai were essentially sell-swords in real life, we remember them as semi-spiritual warriors that lived by a code of honour. Hey, if we read manga to escape real life, you might as well do it properly. This is the tale of Shinmen Takezo, who would later become the most famous swordsman of all, Miyamoto Musashi. It tells of how he ran away from his home village in search of glory and fame, and his bitter struggle with the realities of the world and creeping realization that his goal might only be an empty prize. A good, solid samurai manga with fantastic art and some of the best fights I've seen in seinen. I rate out of enjoyment more than quality, which is why this got a 10.
There is ALOT of standing around in this manga there is lots of philosophical mumbojumbo about sword fighting[that gets annoying fast] the art is nice for the most part...the woman tend to look ugly and dissfigured but most of the characters are male and look overall good
the biggest problem for me is the standing around and having inner dialogues...oo he is so strong if i beat him ill be famous im not scared im strong ... i can win,im not afraid,i know he is afraid of me,my speed is great,he might be fast,no,i can not lose,i will win,my sword is superior,i will become the greatest swordsman ever ASO ASO then its the other guys turn to have inner dialogues
then we have a couple of pages showing how the fight might turn out if musashi do one move then some more pages on how the outcome will be if he does another move
Musashis first "real" fight took 7 volumes of 90% standing in one spot imagining the fight
DBZ dragged on the fights sure this is DBZx10 and to me this is boring
I have to admit I was dodging the manga every time it came up in the recommendations of pretty much every good manga I've ever read, thinking it was your typical hack and slash with a crappy storyline. Boy was I wrong, this manga is ridiculously good and the art is fantastic. If only Mutuhashi would just DIE it'd be perfect. Read it
Good, but lacking
I definitely agree with the comment below. Stylistically Vagabond is rather accomplished, but Inoue's characters lack a humane aspect. Not that it's not there, but it doesn't feel real. They act almost like robots, who have had emotions programmed into them. Now I'm not saying this is a bad manga, but I feel that its status is exaggerated.
Is this really amazing!?
I know I am going to get nasty messages for this statement but this series just doesn't bring me to my knees. I think the art is violent, raw and beautiful and at the beginning I had sympathy for the characters but then I lost it. I started to not care what happened, there was no feeling of anticipation. The series could have ended with our hero impaled on a tree and I would not have blinked. The fact that I did not fall entire fall this manga leaves me wondering why, the story line is the type I like and the art is beautiful, I should rightly love it! I think perhaps some aspect of the delivery is lacking for me, perhaps the way the manga goes from character to character or is so disjointed or something. What ever the reason after the first 4 volumes I felt no emotional response to the characters whatsoever. I should have some feeling or response, even if it is not affection. I merely didn't care enough to hate it. Someone commented on the manga feeling 'real and accurate' above but while the manga style is less stylized than many other type there was still a certain feeling of unreality to the manga. I think this feeling of unreality is also part of my lack of reponse to this on an emotional level. If I can't believe in the characters I can't feel anything for them perhaps. As this mangaka's work is beautiful artistically I hope he can improve his delivery also.
Not for kids who desire only action.
If you're just looking for sword fights, and don't like deep thinking or philosophy, save yourself the trouble. Anywho, art's rad, realistically rad with some water paintings thrown in here and there; easy-to-follow action scenes won't have you wondering what's going on in the middle of a fight; plus good mix of adventure, philosophy, action and even a smidgen of romance. The way you're led through his life in these (currently) three-hundred chapters is such a beautiful gradient of his sort of metamorphism from beast to enlightened-- super Kafkaesque. I love this. The differing perspectives (Musashi, Kojiro, Matahachi) take a while to get used to, but once you do it's really quite something. Really sort of contextualizes the roles and lives of the three even more, and helps you appreciate them and this great piece of work even more.
... Last updated on December 7th, 2011, 10:34pm
This manga is just so great . When i 1st read this manga . i knew right away it's inoue's.The art and the story are awesome . the battle scenes are good.I would have given it a 10 if there wasn't a man called Mushashi in real life
... Last updated on September 15th, 2009, 5:55am
amazingly great read
The action is pretty good, (though i think the choreography could still use improvement), and the story is even better, as well as the philosophical side. It could easily be the best seinen manga out there,
right into the centre of the warrior's heart
Seriously, sometimes I wonder what people expect in a picture-carried story about a man who dedicated his whole life to the way of the sword. This is a story about THE one person who revolutionized sword techniques, starting off as a wild brute with nothing but anger and hatred inside (the problem with his father - very much the number one Freud theory) pushing and fighting his way through his darkest feelings to become the somewhat genius swordsman he later was. Killing people comes with mastering a weapon build to do just this and Inoue Takehiko did an awfully great job trying to show us modern people what living for the art of killing and fighting must have meant. Musashi grows into a man and an artist and Inoue lets us be a part of his struggling, with all of these hallucination-scenes and wandering of the mind as well as pure technique and hardship. Fighting 70 men in a ridiculous effort to save himself from being followed and killed in the dark, while knowing that this will most likely make his life even harder (revenge and such), is a truly unnerving way of showing a situation with no possible peaceful solution. There is no way of getting out of this situation alive and well and thus he chooses alive. Scenes like these almost tore my heart out, imagining the pain, exhaustion and distress. Definitely the best read about the meaning of martial-art I know. And the art is just breathtaking. Someone wrote a comment about the scenery and realistic ancient culture, I second that. For someone who can take realistic thoughts and is interested in the overall topic, this is a must-read.