About Vagabond

Written by Takehiko Inoue (Slam Dunk), the manga was first published in Japan in 1998 and is published in the US/Canada by VIZ.

If you're not familiar with Vagabond or Musashi, here's a snippet from the VIZ descriptive blurb that sums up the story:

Vagabond, based on Eiji Yoshikawa's novel Musashi, is a fictional account of the life of Miyamoto Musashi (1584-1645.) Miyamoto Musashi, author of the philosophical strategy guide A Book of Five Rings, was a master of the sword and revered as a 'sword-saint.' He founded the Niten Ichi style of sword fighting which is typified by fighing with both long and short swords at once.

The manga can be described as 'Musashi: The Early Years' and its hero, Takezo, doesn't earn the name Musashi until the third volume (but everybody calls him Takezo for quite a while.) The story begins with 17-year-old Takezo and his childhood friend Matahachi surviving the Battle of Sekigahara. They soon find themselves in the middle of feud between bandits, which serves to set Takezo on the path to becoming "invincible under the sun."

Of course, that path isn't an easy one and he has a lot to learn.

Helping (and sometimes hindering) him along the way is a large cast of supporting characters, including the too-often abandoned Otsu, the weak-willed Matahachi, a monk named Takuan who gives Takezo pointers in life, a kid who follows Takezo around, Matahachi's nasty mother, and a bunch of masters and opponents who teach or fight Musashi/Takezo -- and sometimes both. Later volumes of Vagabond focus heavily on Sasaki Kojiro, the deaf and mute swordsman who later becomes Musashi's greatest opponent.

Vagabond is solidly entertaining (especially if you like the Warring States Era and wandering samurai tales), the art's incredible, and the characters are fantastic. If you already haven't read the series, give it a try!

Contact Info

• fanlistings @ absolutetrouble.com

VAGABOND © Takehiko Inoue, VIZ