Vagabond Vol 1 Vizbig Edition by Takehiko Inoue Manga Review

Title: Vagabond Vol 1 Vizbig Edition

Author:  Takehiko Inoue

Based on Eiji Yoshikawa’s Musashi

Publisher: Viz


May Contain Spoilers

Holy crap, this was a great read.  How did I miss this series the first time around?  It’s got everything in the first volume – drama, suspense, action, betrayal, and loads of splurting blood.  It’s also a massive book, weighing around 2 lbs, so it will also strengthen those weak arms of yours!  I couldn’t put this down, and that’s saying a lot considering the girth of its 600+ pages. 

Takezo Shinmen and his childhood friend Matahachi have somehow managed to survive the battle of Sekigahara.  Too bad for them that they are now fugitives, having backed the losing side.  They are discovered, near death, by Akemi, and nursed back to health.  An encounter with a gang of bandits has Takezo on the run again, this time back to his village.  Instead of a warm welcome, he is greeted with betrayal by Matahachi’s family. Soon he’s fighting for his life against soldiers and fellow villagers.  Will he survive to chase his goal of becoming the strongest swordsman in Japan?

Takezo has it rough.  Nobody can stand the kid, and he hasn’t really done anything wrong.  Ok, ok, there was that incident when he accepted a challenge from a traveling swordsman and emotionlessly cut him down in front of his fellow villagers, but the other guy was looking for a fight.  Shunned by almost everyone, called demon and a beast, he became what he was accused of.  There was no softness in his life to temper his sharp edges, and the only goal he had for himself was to survive and become as strong as he could be.

Takezo isn’t an easy guy to like.  He’s brutal and unyielding, and will do anything to live another day.  Life for him has always been about survival, about fending for himself, about never quite being able to trust anyone else.  There were two people that he thought he could count on, Matahachi and Otsu, Matahachi’s betrothed.   They both end up betraying him.  This guy has got nobody at all but himself to rely on, and that gave me a touch of sympathy that  allowed me to forgive him some of his faults.  He’s just trying to crawl forward and live, but circumstances keep casting him in a very poor light.

The art is phenomenal – it’s detailed and Inoue’s exquisite line work creates some stunning illustrations.  The action flows convincingly, and the characters’ emotional turmoil is easy to understand.  Vagabond is a great package, and at twenty bucks, it’s a steal. It’s even got some color pages!

Grade: A

Rated for Mature

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