Worthy of Praise

In Japan, Miyamoto Musashi is considered to be the greatest swordsmen to ever live, but is most famous as the author of “The Book of Five Rings.” In that book, he says he has fought in sixty duels and won all of them. His life has been chronicled in many books, novels, and movies. The most famous of them all is the 1971 novel Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa, a romanticized telling of Musashi’s life. In 1998, manga artist Takehiko Inoue (Slam Dunk, Real) started Vagabond, a manga adaptation of Musashi, and has gained critical acclaim worldwide and was even nominated for the Eisner Award in 2003 for best writer/artist.

In 2008, Viz media published Vagaond into its Viz Big edition sets, a massive manga volume featuring three manga volumes in one with some extras. Viz Big Volume 1 contains volumes 1-3.

Volume one introduces us to Musashi after the Battle of Sekigahara. Only here he is known by his birth name, Shinmen Takezo. Along with his friend, Hon’iden Matahachi, they take refuge in a small house with a lecherous mother and daughter who are scavengers of weapons found on battle fields. Volume two is where Musashi returns to his village of and everyone wants him dead because he returned without Matahachi, whose mother believes to have been killed by Musashi. In Volume three, he takes up the name Miyamoto Musashi, travels to Kyoto and takes on the Yoshioka School of Sword Fighting to prove to himself.

It is easy to see why this manga has received the praises it has. The artwork is absolutely gorgeous. The characters are drawn in a very lifelike fashion. The way the characters move and even their facial expressions make them look like real people. Even the backgrounds depicting 17th century Japan look  lifelike.

The story itself is well written as well. It reads like a samurai drama that is chock full of swordfights, love, betrayal and one man’s quest for perfection. It will give anyone entertained and wanted to read the next volume. A fair warning though: This is definitely not for children. Due to blood, gore, adult situations and nudity, this is a grown-up adventure.

Because of this, if you are a fan of samurai fiction and manga, do yourself a favor and pick up Vagabond. It is one of the most beautiful looking and most intense manga out there. It should be a real treat to those who enjoy reading about Japanese history or just a fan of samurai in general.

About Rocco Sansone 841 Articles
Rocco Sansone is a “man of many interests.” These include anime/manga, video games, tabletop RPGs, YA literature, 19th century literature, the New York Rangers, and history. Among the things and places he would like to see before he dies are Japan, half of Europe, and the New York Rangers win another Stanley Cup.

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