Vagabond vol 1
Vagabond is a fictional account of the early years o true-life Japanese warrior Shinmen Takezo who would come to be known as the renowned ‘sword-saint’ Miyamoto Musashi. We follow our young hero as he tries to make it home from the war, having to fight to remain safe in a land patrolled by warlords and bandits. To survive he has to be every bit as brutal as he can, outclassing the soldiers and thieves in the many battles he must face. We also follow the tale of Matahachi, the simple country samurai who had followed Takezo to war, but on the return journey forsakes a return to his previous life to forge a new one with his lover.
Well is it a gripping story? Based on this volume alone, no. Being a fan of Samurai epics such as Lone Wolf & Cub or Blade of the Immortal I thought this title was going to win me over easily, and whilst it does show promise of developing well This first volume does not capture the reader as much as other titles on the shelves will. As readers we are presented with an almost non-stop flow of action and what the author clearly feels is plot/character development, yet everything fails to gel together and as such the total ends up feeling quite flat. Now whilst the plot at the moment doesn’t appear to be going anywhere, with the monumental life and history of Miyamoto Musashi this series is sure to pick up later. The visuals on the other hand are no disappointment, and are lush and beautiful throughout the title. Some of the character designs do get little distinction between them but all the doe-eyed characters and well-rendered environments are very evocative, but for me still fall short of Goseki Kojima’s art in either Lone Wolf or Samurai Executioner.
Impressions at the end of volume 1 are mixed. Whilst the visuals are pretty the lack of a gripping plot at this stage does not really bode well. So far there is little attraction or empathy for the main character and only the hope to see how the author deals with the titanic portrayal of Musashi’s life holds any interest for a return to this title. I hope that this title does get better quickly because at the moment this is not a series I would recommend to anyone.
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