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Growing up in the late 16th century Sengoku era Japan, Shinmen Takezō is shunned by the local villagers as a devil child due to his wild and violent nature. Running away from home with a fellow boy at age 17, Takezo joins the Toyotomi army to fight the Tokugawa clan at the Battle of Sekigahara. However, the Tokugawa win a crushing victory, leading to nearly three hundred years of Shogunate rule. Takezo and his friend manage to survive the battle and afterwards swear to do great things with their lives. However, after their paths separate, Takezo becomes a wanted criminal and must change his name and his nature in order to escape an ignoble death.

Note: Won the 24th Kodansha Manga Award in the general category in 2000. Won the Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize in 2002 and was nominated for the 2003 Eisner Award in the Best Writer/Artist category.


Related Series

Associated Names

Groups Scanlating
Guren no Heya Kara

Latest Release(s)
c.325-327 by Imperial Scans over 2 years ago
c.327 by HappyScans! & Guren no Heya Kara over 2 years ago
c.326 by HappyScans! & Guren no Heya Kara over 2 years ago
Search for all releases of this series

Status in Country of Origin
37 Volumes (Hiatus)

Completely Scanlated?

Anime Start/End Chapter

User Reviews

9 topics, 67 posts
Click here to view the forum

User Rating
Average: 8.9 / 10.0 (1441 votes)
Bayesian Average: 8.85 / 10.0
 44% (635 votes)
 28% (407 votes)
 15% (221 votes)
 6% (89 votes)
 2% (30 votes)
 1% (11 votes)
 0% (5 votes)
 0% (5 votes)
 1% (8 votes)
 2% (30 votes)

Last Updated
September 28th 2017, 4:31am PST



Category Recommendations





Original Publisher

Serialized In (magazine)
Morning (Kodansha)

Licensed (in English)

English Publisher
Viz (37 Volumes - Ongoing)

Activity Stats (vs. other series)
Weekly Pos #357 increased(+51)
Monthly Pos #486 decreased(-8)
3 Month Pos #297 decreased(-140)
6 Month Pos #224 decreased(-92)
Year Pos #146 decreased(-18)

List Stats
On 4784 reading lists
On 1772 wish lists
On 165 unfinished lists
On 517 custom lists

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Forum Posts
70 Vs 1 over 2 years ago
Vagabond to Resume on January 29 over 2 years ago
Vagabond's Return Delayed Until Fall over 3 years ago
Vagabond Returns March 15 over 4 years ago
Why is there no discussion thread for this masterpiece? over 5 years ago

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User Comments [ Order by time added ]

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right into the centre of the warrior's heart   
Rating: 10.0 / 10.0
by Isara
May 11th, 2009, 2:40pm
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.

... Last updated on May 11th, 2009, 2:43pm
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Not for kids who desire only action.   
Rating: 9.7 / 10.0
by brown pillow
October 10th, 2010, 9:53pm
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
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Rating: 10.0 / 10.0
by GoldenKaos
June 23rd, 2011, 1:07pm
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.
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Very good... though not without problems   
Rating: 9.3 / 10.0
by VampireBanana
April 25th, 2009, 1:22am
The drawing is technically very good. In fact, everything from the characters, backgrounds, tones, etc., are accurately depicted and very well-constructed. In fact, I feel that the scenery is rather gorgeous and same for certain depictions of certain characters. However, at times, I feel like the art has sacrificed the ability to emote in favour of technicality.

The story is intriguing. I'm sure I've read a simpler version before but never has it been told and etched out in such detail. The conflicts, the various motives and lives of the entire cast is depicted and written with care. And the historical settings are very well-done, from the buildings to the food, to the clothings and behaviours of the people. (In fact, the story feels very historically realistic as opposed to an interpretation from a 21st century viewpoint.) And the action scenes are fairly cool too as even the varying sword techniques are depicted accurately and interestingly in terms of art and writing.

However, such an in-depth, panel-intensive approach to storytelling is not without risks when considering the immense cast involved as the series is what? Probably halfway through the total intended story arcs. This is further complicated by the philosophical aspects. Though interesting as they lend an introspective layer to this series, the author seems bent on repeating them so it adds on even more pages to an already lengthy saga.

And to me, the final blow is that by focusing too much on action and bloodshed at times, the writer has diminished the characterisation of Musashi by making him seem too murderous when he fights for other purposes. Yes, I understand the need to depict the blood-thirsty era of the samurai ages but without constant narration or other forms of storytelling techniques, it's hard to seriously and properly maintain the layers of his character or of the other cast. In contrast, I feel that Cesare, Historie and Vinland Saga do a much better job of preserving characterisation while depicting a story amidst blood-drenched histories. That is: showing the characters to be capable of extreme violence while not allowing the bloodthirst to overshadow the storytelling.

... Last updated on April 25th, 2009, 3:22am
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Great manga   
Rating: 10.0 / 10.0
by ddvdsv
April 8th, 2012, 1:15am
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
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Awesome Series   
Rating: 10.0 / 10.0
by stabby
May 19th, 2007, 3:08pm
Awesome. Especially enjoy not having to read the main character shouting out the names of his moves during every fight bigrazz

People complain it's slow, but that's because they're used to reading Bleach and Naruto. This manga seems to be aimed a bit higher than that ^_^
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Rating: 10.0 / 10.0
by rennov
January 8th, 2014, 10:00pm
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!
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Already a classic   
Rating: 9.0 / 10.0
by gjoerulv
August 30th, 2006, 7:42am
As stated it's a bit slow, but not that slow. Allmost every manga with a deep story is slow so why complain? Did I mention the arts? It's magnificent!!
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Emotionally moving, adrenaline pumping   
Rating: N/A
by mangamario
August 6th, 2014, 6:54pm
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!
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very good but its not for everyone   
Rating: 9.0 / 10.0
by nakie08
August 7th, 2013, 10:03pm
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
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