Vagabond (manga)

Vagabond (manga)

Infobox animanga/Header
name = Vagabond

caption = Miyamoto Musashi, the protagonist
ja_name = バガボンド
ja_name_trans = Bagabondo
genre = Chanbara
Infobox animanga/Manga
title =
author = Takehiko Inoue
publisher = flagicon|Japan Kodansha
publisher_en = flagicon|Canada flagicon|United States VIZ Media
flagicon|Singapore Chuang Yi
flagicon|Australia flagicon|New Zealand Madman Entertainment
publisher_other = flagicon|Brazil Conrad Editora
flagicon|France Éditions Tonkam
flagicon|Germany Egmont
flagicon|Indonesia Elex Media Komputindo
flagicon|Italy Planet Comics
flagicon|Malaysia Evergreen
flagicon|Poland Mandragora
flagicon|South Korea Haksan
flagicon|Spain flagicon|Argentina flagicon|Finland Editorial Ivrea
flagicon|Taiwan Sharp Point
flagicon|Thailand Nation Edutainment
flagicon|Hong Kong Jonesky
demographic = Seinen
magazine = Weekly Morning
first = 1998
last =
volumes = 28

nihongo|"Vagabond"|バガボンド|"Bagabondo" is an ongoing manga by Takehiko Inoue, adapted from the fictionalized accounts by Eiji Yoshikawa of the samurai Miyamoto Musashi.

The manga has been serialized in Kodansha's seinen "Weekly Morning" magazine since 1998 in Japan. The English translation is by VIZ Media. As of April 2008, there has been 28 tankōbon volumes published in Japan and 27 have been translated in the United States. To date, "Vagabond" has sold more than 22 million copies throughout the world.

"Vagabond" won the Grand Prize for manga at the 2000 Japan Media Arts Festival. The following was an excerpt from the speech congratulating Takehiko Inoue: "From Toyotomi to Tokugawa. Musashi Miyamoto grew up amidst the turn of two great eras. Mr. Inoue has taken the powerful Musashi who was sometimes called a 'beast' and drawn him as a vagabond. The artist brags about boldly challenging the national literary work of Eiji Yoshikawa, even so, the sense of speed that he creates is impressive. I send my applause to the artist for creating a new image of Musashi"." [cite web | url= | author=Japan Media Arts Plaza | title=2000 Japan Media Arts Festival Manga Division Grand Prize Vagabond | accessdate=2007-08-26] In the same year, "Vagabond" also won the 24th Kodansha Manga Award in the general category.cite web | url= | author=Joel Hahn | title=Kodansha Manga Awards | work=Comic Book Awards Almanac | accessdate=2007-08-21] In 2002, "Vagabond" received the highly-acclaimed Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize. The following year, Inoue was nominated for the 2003 Eisner Award in the category of Best Writer/Artist.


Main characters

(pertaining to and accounts as depicted in the manga; some may be dramatized interpretations of their lives so do not consider them as official historical biographies unless otherwise indicated)

* Miyamoto Musashi: The main character.
* Sasaki Kojirō: The legendary archrival of Miyamoto Musashi. Kojiro is believed to have studied the Chūjo-ryū style of swordsmanship under the instruction of either Toda Seigen or Kanemaki Jisai. Kojirō was renowned for his Tsubame-Gaeshi, or “Swallow Cut” technique, inspired by the movement of a swallow in flight. In an interesting difference from the book the manga was based on Kojirō is depicted as being deaf as well as mute, though he is literate. His personality is very playful, almost child-like. Ittousai has also commented the possibility that Kojirou's eyes have become better developed to compensate for his lack of hearing.
* Takuan Sōhō: (1573-1645). A Zen Buddhist monk, specifically, representative of the Rinzai sect. In 1610, he was appointed as abbot of the main temple, Daitokuji. Takuan is known for his brute honesty and meticulously perceptive personality, which was sought after by monks, swordsmen, and politicians alike (such as Tokugawa Iemitsu and Go-Mizunoo). Takuan's shared correspondence with Yagyū Munenori was captured in a treatise called "The Unfettered Mind"." Takuan helps capture Takezo and later renames him as Miyamoto Musashi, setting him free to travel and personally evolve.

Minor characters

* Hon'iden Matahachi: Hedonist and childhood friend of Musashi. Assumes Sasaki Kojiro's identity after a dying Tenki entrusts Kojiro's swordsmanship certificates to him. Later, after coming into contact with the genuine Kojiro, begins to identify himself as Sasaki Koujiro, an interpreter for Kojiro, the real Kojiro being deaf. He later becomes estranged from Musashi after a tense reunion, Matahachi displaying an intense jealousy to Musashi.
* Tsujikaze Tenma: A brigand and head of a gang of free-booters that periodically visits Okō and takes whatever worthwhile she has acquired. He killed Akemi’s father (Okō's husband), his own mother, and is later killed by Takezō after the Battle of Sekigahara.
* Tsujikaze Kōhei: Born in 1580 in the Fuwa village and younger brother of Tsujikaze Tenma. His mom tried to kill him by pushing him off a waterfall the same way she did to Tsujikaze Tenma, however, Tenma kills her and takes Kōhei under his wing. Though Tenma showed him much kindness, Kōhei hardly displayed any affection. When the Tsujikaze Gang was formed and engaged in crimes ranging from robbery, rape, and extortion, Kōhei became its member at 12 and was considered most savage by others. At 12 Kōhei attempted to rape the wife of a villager he had slain, but Tenma, disgusted by the act, slew the woman to put her out of her misery and crushed Kōhei's testicles, rendering him (Kōhei) impotent. Kōhei failed at killing Tenma and was imprisoned as punishment, during which time he came to adopt a nihilistic outlook on life. The Tsujikaze Gang failed to make a name for themselves and honor their employer, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, in attempting to capture Tokugawa Ieyasu. At the age of 20 in the year 1600, serving 7 years of imprisonment, Kōhei was released by surviving Sekigahara soldiers and escaped to hunt his brother since. Originally desired to kill Tenma himself before Takezō got to him, Kōhei confronts Takezō only to have the battle postponed by Takezō’s captors; cuts the rope by which Takezō is suspended. Kōhei as a bandit came to be referred to as the 'God of Death' and killed Shishido Baiken, master of the kusarigama though revealed to be little more than the leader of a small band of thieves. Pretending to be Baiken, Kōhei lived with a little girl, Rindo, who also wielded the kusarigama and was actually his teacher in using it. He is challenged by Musashi and loses, yet his life is spared, though he loses some fingers on his left hand. While recuperating he recalls that Sasaki Kojiro smashed his pride by being further "along the path of death" than him. It has recently been revealed that Kojiro was the one who gave Kouhei his vicious facial scar.
*Ukita Hideie: (1573-1655) Daimyo of Bizen and Mimasaka. One of the leading generals that fought for the Toyotomi Clan at the Battle of Sekigahara.
* Otsū: Childhood friend of Takezō and Matahachi. Otsū was raised by Matahachi's family and arranged to marry Matahachi. Plans go awry when Matahachi runs off after the Battle of Sekigahara with Okō to Kyoto. Angry at Matahachi, Otsū refuses Granny Hon'iden's offer to join the Hon'iden family and seeks life and love elsewhere. Currently she is traveling with Takezo's "apprentice" Joutarou in order to find him.
*Joutarou: He appears as Musashi´s first apprentice.
*Kitabatake Tomonori: (1528-1576). Ruler of Ise, which is located in Mie Prefecture. Tomonori is also said to have been a master of the Kashima Shinto-ryū.
*Tsukahara Bokuden: (1489-1571). Founder of the Kashima Shinto-ryū style of sword fighting. Bokuden was from the city of Kashima in modern-day Ibaraki Prefecture and is famous for his "Musashugyo" or sword-fighting warrior pilgrimages, which took him on travels throughout Japan.
*Itō Ittōsai: (1560 - 1653?). Founder of the Ittō-ryū style of swordsmanship, one of the largest schools of sword fighting. Before establishing his own style, Ittōsai is said to have studied a variant of the Chujo-ryū style of sword fighting under Kanemaki Jisai’s instruction. In Vagabond, Ito was one of Sasaki's Koujirou's teachers.
*Musō Gonnosuke Katsukichi: (dates unknown). Founder of the Shintō Musō-ryū school of martial arts which mainly utilized the wooden staff. Gonnosuke is said to have been one of the many to lose to Musashi in a duel. According to some accounts he defeated Musashi in a rematch. This version Gonnosuke actually meets up with Kojirou, even going so far as to call Kojirou his first friend.
*Honami Kōetsu: Famed artist and calligrapher who co-founded an influential arts movement called the Rinpa School. Koetsu was involved in numerous fields including tea ceremony, pottery, and calligraphy. In addition, Koetsu succeeded the line of his family's ancestral business of sword polishing and appraisals.

THE YOSHIOKA SCHOOL " [of the 8 Kyoto styles] in Kyoto, Japan"

"Takezō defeats and kills 5 swordsmen (Takashina, Chihara, Nimura, Hasuzawa, Kaji) from the Yoshioka school before encountering the senior disciples"

*Yoshioka Kempō: A distinguished swordsman during the Sengoku period (1482-1558) and founder of the renowned Yoshioka school of sword-fighting. Yoshioka Kempō mastered the Kyohachi style of swordsmanship and then modified it to form the Yoshioka style. He became a military instructor to the Shogunate family. Defeated only by Shinmen Munisai. Titled “Unrivaled Throughout The Land.” Only won one bout against Shinmen Munisai while Munisai won the next consecutive two. In the context as presented by Takehiko Inoue's "Vagabond" and Eiji Yoshikawa's "Musashi", both Yoshioka Seijūrō and Denshichirō are Kempō's sons who are historically believed to have dueled with Miyamoto Musashi on numerous occasions.
*Yoshioka Seijūrō: The current head considered a playboy due to his great time spent visiting the pleasure quarters to spend time with Akemi. Yoshioka Kempō’s oldest son. Follows his instincts, both in and outside of combat, carefree and easygoing, seems to take things haphazardly. He was defeated and killed by Musashi in the battle of Rendaiji Field one year after they first met.
*Yoshioka Denshichirō: Left the school after his father died and went on a warrior’s pilgrimage, ending up and eventually meeting Kojiro and Ito. Upset that his father never praised him. Seijūrō’s younger brother, though completely dedicated to his swordsmanship. Blames the school’s dwindling reputation on account of Seijūrō’s cavorting. With the Yoshioka’s school burning down, he leaves Kyoto and keeps visiting the Yagyū dojo to meet Sekishūsai, but is denied each time. His duel with Musashi at Rengeoin temple ends in his loss and death.
*Ueda Ryōhei: One of the senior disciples, skilled as Seijūrō and Denshichirō, was a prodigy disciple of Yoshioka Kempō, the school’s founder. Previously rumored in becoming head of the school. He died of mortal wounds inflicted by Musashi at the end of the schools group assault.
*Gion Tōji: One of the senior disciples who appears to be Yoshioka Seijūrō’s right-hand man or at least, follows him around. Arrogant. Vowed to hunt down Musashi as a self-proclaimed assassin for the Yoshioka school. Considered to have a refined bloodthirst by Agon of Hōzōin. Visits the Hōzōin temple and cuts off the arms of one of the priests. After witnessing the battle between Musashi and Inshun, he leaves momentarily realizing his own weakness. Later shows up to challenge Yagyū Sekishūsai Muneyoshi, thinking to end his life fighting a great swordsman. From Here-on , his exact whereabouts are unknown. Until he reappears suddenly in Kyoto, one year since his take of leave, and attempts to take Miyamoto Musashi's life in a street fight, only to have his throat slashed open.

*Agon: A formidable opponent in the Hōzōin art of spearmanship. Defeated by Musashi.
*Inshun: Originally named “Shinnosuke Mitsuda,” he witnessed the death of his father and mother Saya at the hands of a bandit at an early age. He would be renamed as Inshun by In’ei. A child prodigy of spearmanship, Inshun withdrew within himself desiring to become stronger. By 15 he was the strongest at the temple. Realized the potential of Seijūrō at a young age when Yoshioka Kempō came to the Hōzōin temple. The second-generation master of the Hōzōin spear technique. Stops the fight between Musashi and Gion Tōji. Self-proclaimed to be stronger than In’ei. Considers Seijūrō as his equal. Defeats Musashi as he retreats. Whereas Inshun excels in his refined spearmanship through countless training, he lacks the experience of actual mortal combat. Other monks feel that Inshun is aloof and detached and that his remoteness fosters fear and jealousy in others... many disciples have grown discontent ever since Inshun battled Musashi. Lost to Musashi during their second duel.
*Myōei: Suspicious of Inshun’s abilities ever since the Musashi fight. Believes he ought to rightfully be the “second generation master of the Hōzōin spear technique.”
*Hōzōin Kakuzenbō In’ei: Revered as the Great Hōzōin In’ei. Feels he has only passed down the “mechanical aspects” of the Hōzōin spear technique to Inshun.

*Yagyū Sekishūsai Muneyoshi: (1527-1606). The founder of the famed Yagyū Shinkage Ryū school of sword fighting. His son Yagyū Munenori (1571-1646) was one of Tokugawa’s key generals at the Battle of Sekigahara. Munenori was appointed as the official fencing instructor of the Tokugawa clan and in 1632 the Yagyū were appointed as the "ometsuke" — responsible for the surveillance of the daimyo. Although the Yagyū clan has been depicted in Kazuo Koike’s "Lone Wolf and Cub" as plotters of the downfall of Itto Ogami, the general Japanese popular culture take on the Yagyū Clan is more positive. More specifically, Yagyū Munenori’s son, Yagyū Jūbei (1607-1650), is viewed as a wandering hero protecting the people from evil-doers.
*Kamiizumi Ise no Kami Hidetsuna: (1508-1577?). The son of Kamiizumi Ise no Kami Hidetsugu, the lord of Kamiizumi Castle in present-day Gunma Prefecture. Hidetsuna founded the Yagyū Shinkage Ryū of sword fighting and was such an accomplished swordsman and military strategist that he once was recruited by the famed Takeda Shingen. Hidetsuna, however, declined the post, stating that he preferred to travel throughout the land so that he might perfect his swordsmanship. Many notable fighters studied under Hidetsuna including the esteemed Yagyū Munenori and Hōzōin Kakuzenbō Hōin In-ei, founder of the Hozoin-ryū style of spearmanship.


(as pertaining to and mentioned in the manga)
* Sakushū: Province also known as Mimasaka and currently, the area of the northern region of the Okayama Prefecture.
* Higo: One of the old Provinces of Japan located in present-day Kumamoto Prefecture.
* Owari: One of the old Provinces of Japan located in present-day Nagoya and its surrounding region.
* Kaga: One of the old Provinces of Japan located in the present-day Ishikawa Prefecture.
* Echizen: One of the old Provinces of Japan and is currently the northern portion of the Fukui Prefecture.
* Sangen'in Temple: One of many sub-temples of the Daitokuji Temple in Kyoto. It was a place where Japanese swordsmen came to meditate and even outnumbered the resident monks. Some claim that thoughts of rebellion originated from these grounds.
* Hōzō-in Temple: One of many sub-temples featured on the grounds of Kōfuku-ji in Nara and next to the Kasuga Mountains. Its name reverberates with fearless monks and their infamous spear techniques.
* Himeji Castle: Additional troops are dispatched to help the hunt for Takezō (boyhood name for Miyamoto Musashi) after his return from the Battle of Sekigahara in the surrounding are of Miyamoto village.
* Yagyū Territory: Region of an old forest of trees surrounding Kyoto, Osaka, and Owari.
* Yagyū Castle: An estate of the formidable and famous Yagyu clan. One of its highlights is the Shinkagedō Hall.
* Wataya Inn: Close to the Yagyū dojo, this is where Musashi unsuspectingly meets Yagyū Sekishūsai and where Jōtarō brings Otsū to deliver a letter to Denshichirō from Yagyū Tajima no Kami Muneyoshi.
* Rengeōin Temple: Located in eastern Kyoto, Rengeōin (蓮華王院本堂) is more commonly referred to as Sanjūsangen-dō. The main hall of Rengeoin features an amazing display of 1001 Kannon Buddhist statues.

Items / Things

* Hōzōin Spear Technique: Created by the Buddhist monk Kakuzenbo Hōzōin In’ei (寳藏院覚禅房胤栄, 1521-1607) of Hōzōin Temple, which was a sub-temple of Kōfuku-ji in Nara. This spear technique is typified by quick dexterous movements rather than the use of brute force.
* Eiroku: Name of the Japanese era from 1558 to 1569.
* Sottaku: A Zen term used to describe a disciple and his master in perfect sync when the time is right for the disciple to awaken to enlightenment.

tory arcs

* MIYAMOTO ARC: "Chapters 1-21 (Volumes 1-2)"

Before Takezo becomes Miyamoto, we see him as a man who can draw the fear out of anybody, who lives on his wits and will quickly kill anyone who crosses him. This gets Takezo into big trouble, where he has to live in the mountains cut off from all but the hunters from his village who come to try and kill him.

Eventually, the monk Takuan and Miyamoto's childhood friend Otsu help to capture Takezo, and his capture results in him being hung from a tree for several days without food or water (with the exception of when Otsu comes to try and feed him rice balls on a bamboo pole). During this time, Tsujikaze Kohei, the younger brother of a bandit that Takezo killed, comes to claim his revenge on Takezo (but only because Kohei wanted to kill his brother first). Takuan scares him away, but we have not seen the last of Kohei.

At the end of the arc, Takuan takes Takezo out to a remote area surrounding the village and talks to Takezo, and at the end of the fifth manga we learn that Takezo has now (for the moment) shed his rage and has become a more graceful person - Miyamoto Musashi.

* KYŌTO ARC: "Chapters 22-32 (Volumes 2-4)"

Miyamoto Musashi travels to Kyoto to look for strong fighters to challenge. He immediately heads to the Yoshioka school of swordfighting, where his father's name was well known. Before he gets there, he unknowingly encounters the current leader of the school, Yoshioka Seijuro, who is cavorting with the many geisha in the town. After a few words, Seijuro says "You're dead." and Musashi looks down in horror to see that Seijuro's sword was at his neck, and if Seijuro wanted to kill him, he would have never seen it coming.

Undaunted, he still heads toward the school and challenges the owner, but first he is forced to face many of those who train at the school, after being insulted by some of the lower class members. Musashi kills five members of higher and higher rank, until finally Yoshioka Denshichiro, the more serious of the two sons of Yoshioka Kempo, decides to kill Musashi himself. In a very dramatic battle, one that Seijuro intervenes in once to give Musashi the scar on his forehead, Musashi also manages to dislocate Denshichiro's shoulder, but neither of them stop each other from fighting - instead, we learn at the same time that Musashi's old friend Hon'iden Matahachi has been staying with the ladies they rescued from Tsujikaze Tenma, but heads to the Yoshioka school because he hears the fighting going on. He ends up drinking much of the sake they store in the basement, passing out drunk, and lighting the school's building on fire.

Musashi escapes with his life, and Matahachi realizes that Takezo or Musashi, was the one who challenged the school, and decides to try to put his life back together.

* HŌZŌIN ARC: "Chapters 33-76 (Volumes 4-8)"

Takuan encourages Musashi to be more serious about training and not throw away his life so easily, but Musashi still has a lot to learn. During this time, Musashi splits up with Takuan and goes to visit the Hozoin temple for its famous spear technique. (Takuan goes to visit the Yagyu clan, where he believes Otsu is currently staying.)

Gion Toji, having appointed himself as the Yoshioka school's assassin and seeking to kill Musashi, arrives at the temple first. There he cuts both hands off a monk who challenges him in battle. He proclaims that he will come back everyday and do the same to the others, until he finds Musashi, throwing the temple into turmoil and unease.

Musashi appears at the temple the next day and picks a fight with Agon, one of the higher level monks at Hozoin, who is outside the temple training his technique. Musashi seeks In'ei, the old and legendary master of the school, who he does not know has retired. Agon recognizes that this must be Musashi, and seeking both to end the turmoil that Toji has caused and defend Hozoin's name, he fights Musashi. Musashi learns much of the technique and at one point finds himself without a sword but, quick to act, he manages to dodge a thrust from Agon, and get in close enough to punch Agon in the face with his fist, breaking his nose and ending the fight. At the end of the fight we see Gion Toji watching from the shadows.

Gion Toji picks a fight with Musashi, but before they can begin, Inshun, the new master of the school and a child prodigy at the spear, comes and breaks up the fight, wanting to battle Musashi himself. Toji backs off, and Musashi has an all-out battle with Inshun. In this battle, Inshun has an experience he has not had yet - a battle where his life is on the line. Musashi becomes tired and distraught, and badly beaten, flees from Inshun. He winds up later in the care of In'ei, the same monk and spearmaster he had journeyed to Hozoin to fight.

The elderly In'ei, it turns out, feels that while Inshun, his greatest student has brilliantly mastered the physical art of spear fighting, he has not mastered himself and his soul. He believes Inshun needs a powerful rival, one on his own level of mastery to do this, and begins training Musashi so that he can be that rival.

In the end, Musashi gets a second battle with Inshun, with only In'ei and Agon witnessing it. Inshun is wielding a true spear this time, the Hozoin Cross Spear, and not a training spear with a blunt end. Nonetheless, Musashi has learned a lot from his training, (although the most important things turn out to be what he learned about himself, and his demons), and overpowers Inshun's spirit with his own. Musashi manages to dodge Inshun's attack and knocks down Inshun with a strike to the head from his own self-carved sword; after this, he reverts to his savage self, and starts beating the ground and the fallen Inshun with his sword repeatedly. Inshun's spirit detaches itself from his body, and we learn a bit about Inshun's past, how he came to the Hozoin school.

Both Musashi and Inshun are treated for any injuries at the Hozoin Temple, and they leave with the vow of trying not to kill each other the next time they meet.

* YAGYŪ ARC: "Chapters 77-104 (Volumes 8-11)"

Musashi, with Jotaro in tow, proceeds to travel to the residence of Yagyū Sekishusai, a swordsman of great renown. Meanwhile, Matahachi is making quite a living for himself by posing as Sasaki Kojiro. Matahachi is asked for a match by Kai Sojiro, a wandering swordsman. Matahachi grants Sojiro this request, but, upon his notice that Sojiro is a swordsman capable of killing him in combat, flees. Matahachi runs into his mother and uncle Gon at a marketplace during his flight, and states that Sasaki Kojiro is a pseudonym he uses instead of his actual name, as he feels he has shamed his family by living with a prostitute and inadvertently setting the Yoshioka temple on fire. Granny Hon'iden states that they are to look for Musashi and Otsu, whom she states "ran off together", though she is completely unaware that the two have not been with each other since they ran away from the village.

Musashi eventually makes his way into Yagyu territory. Yagyū Sekishusai receives news that his grandson, Hyogonosuke is returning to his temple, to his delight. Yoshioka Denshichirō constantly requests a duel with Sekishusai, but is refused to be granted an audience. During a chance meeting in a bathhouse, Musashi meets Hyogonosuke, and Jotaro, wandering off, meets Otsu. Musashi happens upon a peony cut by Sekishusai, and requests an audience after delivering a message requesting who cut the enclosed peony, which stuns the senior disciples of the Yagyu when they discover it was Sekishusai himself who made the cut. At the hall of the Yagyu, Musashi attempts to antagonize the members into fighting him, hoping that by besting them he'll be granted audience to Sekishusai, however his efforts prove fruitless, as the disciples have gotten used to such methods. Jotaro, however, ends up playing right into Musashi's plans, as he kills the Yagyu pet dog, as the dog had previously, unprovoked, attacked Jotaro. The group attempts to physically punish Jotaro, but Musashi claims that he must take the punishment for his disciple, and uses this as an excuse to engage in battle with the Yagyu senior disciples. Jotaro runs to find Otsu, but falls into a pit. After a long and exhaustive bout with the senior disciples, Musashi eventually loses them in a bamboo forest, and sneaks into Sekishusai's cottage after a brief, but emotional reunion with Otsu. Musashi is shocked to discover that the aged Sekishusai is now bedridden but, nonetheless, has an impacting discussion over the nature of being the greatest swordsman. Musashi opts to leave Jotaro in the care of the Yagyu, and travels away without him, though Otsu and Jotaro leave in hopes of finding Musashi.

* TSUJIKAZE KŌHEI / SHISHIDO BAIKEN ARC: "Chapters 105-127 (Volumes 11-13)"

The arc begins with Matahachi fleeing from his uncle Gon and mother, after the former questions the legitimacy of his claim to be Sasaki Kojiro. Matahachi runs into a ronin who calls Matahachi an imposter. While fleeing, Matahachi finds himself on the mountain trail leading to Shishido Baiken, a figure renowned for his chain and sickle technique. Matahachi also encounters a mysterious young girl armed with a chain and sickle. As fate would have it, Musashi is also traveling to this area, all the while nursing a foot wound gained by stepping on a nail during a battle. The ronin and his companion eventually catch up to the fleeing Matahachi, but Gon arrives in time to protect him as Matahachi flees the area, however Gon is killed in the ensuing struggle with the ronin's companion. Matahachi continues to flee, with the ronin in hot pursuit. The pair eventually are seen by the mysterious girl, leaping from rocks on the river, whom the ronin mentions as having a similar weapon to Shishido Baiken, which causes the ronin to drop his pursuit of Matahachi and instead follows the young girl. The dying companion happens upon the man who claims to be Shishido Baiken and begs to be put out of his misery, however "Shishido Baiken" is revealed to be none other than Tsujikaze Kohei, though he appears eerily more somber than the last time he was seen. Matahachi, whilst still in flight, stumbles upon the house of "Shishido Baiken" to find the ronin and girl dueling. Baiken returns home, and swiftly launches a weight tied about the end of the sickle chain, smashing the ronin's skull open. Matahachi is discovered hiding by the girl and is made by Baiken to bury the ronin and the bodies of "two others" that are "further up the trail". Matahachi is heart broken to discover that his uncle Gon is among the dead. Granny Hon'ichi nearly drowns, but is discovered by Otsu and Jotaro. While passed out, Granny Hon'ichi begins muttering her vehemence to Otsu and Musashi. As he painfully reminisces about his uncle, Matahachi spies Musashi arriving from afar, and quickly runs away, praising Musashi at the appearance at "how strong he's become".

Musashi, starving, happens upon a kindly hermit's hut, where he is fed and informed that Shishido Baiken is dead. The hermit recants that Baiken was nothing more than a despicable bandit leader who often gave her trouble. She also states that while Baiken was living, the only people that sought him were ne'er-do-wells such as himself and his gang, and that respectable swordsmen only began seeking him after his death. Baiken and the girl spar with their chains and sickles, after which that and a meal, as Baiken sleeps, the girl playfully examines Baiken's face to reveal to the reader a massive facial scar (the scar had previously been obscured by Baiken's hair). Musashi eventually enters Baiken's hut, leading both Musashi and Tsujikaze to exchange shocked reactions. Musashi observes that Tsujikaze is quite different from the man whom he encountered four years ago, stating that Tsujikaze's "twisted grin" is gone. Baiken unemotionally obliges to "demonstrate" the chain and sickle technique to Musashi. As Musashi leaves he is attacked by the girl, now identified as Rindo. Baiken assures Rindo that Musashi is an old acquaintance, and that she should not meddle in their affairs. Rindo, nonplussed, climbs a tree to observe the two's combat, commenting that Musashi is different from the other swordsmen that have appeared in the past.

During the start of the match, Baiken states that while he does not wish to kill Musashi he can only use his chain and sickle with the intent to kill, which Musashi says he has no qualms with. Musashi is initially intimidated by Baiken's technique, after he receives a bloody nose from being clipped by the chained weight, as well as a battered left index finger. Musashi praises Baiken's technique and asks who is Baiken's master, which Baiken responds with the statement that Rindo is his master. While the two combatants anticipate the other's next move, the origin of the current incarnation of Baiken is shown. After his spat with Musashi four years ago, Tsujikaze fell into a deep depression, during which time he began "looking for a place to die". Tsujikaze encountered Baiken and his gang, whom he quickly slew. Tsujikaze's scar appears noticeably more fresh, and, judging by the fact that it opens up in mid-combat, it can be assumed he received it shortly before his episode with Baiken. Rindo initially attacks Tsujikaze, however she relents and passes out after seeing the grisly nature of his scar. After an initial struggle, Tsujikaze and Rindo, who even begins dressing in a manner similar to Tsujikaze, become fast friends. Snapping back to the current battle between "Baiken" and Musashi, there is a brief struggle, which results in Musashi's being strangled by Baiken's chain. As he chokes Musashi, Baiken states that Musashi's life is ultimately meaningless in the grand scheme of things. Musashi eventually frees himself. Rindo attempts to interlope, however Musashi quickly threatens her from doing so, during which Baiken attempts an under-handed tactic of attacking a distracted Musashi.

"Baiken" then begins to display a twisted grin, displaying that he has reverted to his former, blood-thirsty "Tsujikaze" persona, with Musashi's instincts finally kicking in. Tsujikaze's revision saddens Rindo. Musashi draws his short sword and begins remembering his father's training in jutte. Tsujikaze admits that while he initially wanted to kill Musashi because of Musashi's killing of Tsujikaze's brother Tenma before he could, he now desires to kill Musashi because he (Musashi) is very similar to himself, "inviting bloodshed" wherever he goes as he says. Musashi opines on how he is above the petty rage Tsujikaze has, and quickly dispatches him, severing all of Tsujikaze's fingers on his left hand, save his thumb, and leaving a deep wound into his chest through his shoulder. Tsujikaze begins reflecting on his life with Rindo and how similar she and him are, and pleads with Musashi to help treat his wound, saying he wishes to escape the "cycle of death". Musashi seems reluctant at first, but eventually relents and aides him. While recuperating, Tsujikaze remarks that his pride was destroyed by someone who was "further along the path of death" than he, a man called Sasaki Kojiro. It is heavily implied Kojiro is the one who gave Tsujikaze his scar. Ultimately, it is never directly stated as to why Tsujikaze began referring to himself as Shishido Baiken, whether it have been the amount of bloodshed his name invited, somewhat of a paternal relationship he felt with Rindo, or if simply wished to start a new life with Rindo.

During the epilogue of the arc, Tsujikaze's past is further delved into revealing that he came to adopt his macabre outlook on life due to his mother's abandoning of him, and his rough life in his brother Tenma's gang. It is shown that Tenma smashed Tsujikaze's testicles after the latter attempted to rape a peasant woman, leaving Tsujikaze impotent for the rest of his life (during an early struggle with Rindo, Tsujikaze seems puzzled that Rindo thought she would be raped with her sickle). Tsujikaze is then imprisoned after attempting to kill his brother Tenma, during which time he begins to sink into a pit of depression and nihilistic thinking. After seven years the Tsujikaze gang has dissipated and Tsujikaze is freed by passing soldiers during the battle of Sekigahara. Tsujikaze tracks down a former member of his brother's gang, and finds out Musashi, then Takezo, has killed his brother, and Tsujikaze sets out to find his brother's killer and slay him.

* SASAKI KOJIRŌ ARC: "Chapters 128-179 (Volumes 14-20)"

The story arc, as the title suggests, follows not Musashi but the upbringing of his arch-rival, Sasaki Kojiro.

The arc begins in the year 1583 CE, with a letter from Sasaki Sukeyasu to his former teacher, Kanemaki Jisai, who has retired and living as a hermit in a small coastal village. Sukeyasu requests that Jisai please take care of his only son Sasaki. Soon afterwards, Jisai spots the baby on a boat, in the middle of a storm offshore. He rescues Kojiro and raises him, not knowing that his adoptive son is in fact, deaf.

Kojiro grows into a healthy young boy, but is distanced from the villagers because of his deafness and his association with Jisai, who's seen as a crazy old man. This changes when Kojiro befriends Kusanagi Tenki, the local bully. Tenki longs to be a great swordsman, hoping to achieve the title of "Invincible Under the Sun." Together they plot to take down Fudo, a powerful swordsman who terrorizes the village by abducting girls just as they hit puberty. The assault doesn't go well. Tenki is scarred for life and Kojiro realizes his bloodlust in battle. Jisai saves the village and the boy's lives when he takes Fudo down with one stroke.

Time passes and ages Kojiro into a powerful teenaged boy, longing to be taught by Jisai, who refuses, haunted by how Kojiro whimsically massacred Fudo's body after he was already dead. But when Ito Ittosai, an old pupil of Jisai, and a renowned swordsman strolls into town, he interrupts the balance between Jisai and Kojiro. Ito sees that Kojiro is indeed a powerful swordsman, a "real tiger" like Ito and Jisai. He instigates a duel between wandering swordsman including Ueda and Denshichiro of the Yoshioka, who want to learn from Ittosai. Kojiro discovers them and he and Denshichiro duel. Denshichiro discovers that though Kojiro is deaf, he speaks volumes through battle. Though the duel ends abiguously, with both suffering serous injuries, Denshichiro longs to meet Kojiro again.

Soon afterwards, Kojiro leaves the village and travels with Ittosai to test his skill against the world abroad. Jisai soon sends Tenki after Kojiro along with money and a certificate of swordsmanship, which Matahachi will ultimately confiscate. The regular wandering swordsman are no match for Kojiro. The two stumble upon Gonnosuke, who proclaims himself "#1 Martial Artist Under the Sun," contrasting with Kojiro's banner "#1 Swordsman Under the Sun." But Gonnosuke is not prepared for "the stage" as Ittosai calls it. Still, he travels with them as they discover the battlefield of Sekigahara, which has just ended. Ittosai picks a fight with the remaining Tokugawa soldiers and in a bloody battle, a young Takezo also enters the fray, hoping to kill a general. When the battle is over, Ittosai and Gonnosuke are separated from Kojiro. Ittosai tells Gonnosuke that Kojiro must "become him" by surviving the nightmare of the days to come, where scavengers of the war prey on the survivors. He states that once Kojiro has killed about one hundred men he will have acquired his survival instinct. If Kojiro can survive this, Ittosai says, then the next time they meet will be as opponents.

For days, Kojiro is attacked by villagers, hoping to collect his head for bounty. He slaughters everyone in his wake. But he soon encounters a formidable troop of four surviving soldiers. In a long duel with Koun the strongest of the four, Kojiro is victorious, but despite his victory he displays a solemn, almost mournful expression.

* YOSHIOKA ARC: "Chapters 180-242 (Volumes 21-27)"

The arc shifts back again on Miyamoto Musashi as he returns to Kyoto in 1604 (the 9th year of the Keichō era) after a year's time to fulfill his promise for a rematch with the Yoshioka brothers. The introductory pages show Musashi defeating and killing Yoshioka Denshichirō in duel amidst a snowy day. Immediately afterwards, we backtrack 10 days leading up to the duel. Musashi is unexpectedly met with a public bulletin of a challenge from Yoshioka Denshichirō; he boldly accepts it. He meets Yoshioka Seijuro only to be warned of proceeding further. As Musashi practices and is about to rest in Rendaiji Field, out from the darkness emerges Yoshioka Seijuro. Realizing that Musashi has grown in character and sharpened his swordsmanship immensely, Yoshioka Seijuro loses his life on the eve of New Year's Day in his duel with Musashi. Musashi ended up with two cuts to the face (one in the same spot on his forehead from before and the other on an eyelid) and a stab wound to the arm.

After the death of Seijuro, the Kempo clan is devastated. It is revealed that Seijuro attacked Musashi in secret without informing anyone else, as he felt that Denshichirō could not win the upcoming duel against Musashi, however Ueda is the only one to discover this, and, as such, the clan sees the killing of Seijuro as unforgivable on Musashi's part. Musashi encounters Hon'ami Koetsu, a renowned sword sharpener, who offers Musashi a room to stay in while the Kempo clan begin seeking him out. Denshichirō, emotionally distraught, begins to be defeated in practice sessions with his subordinates, which begins to deeply trouble them, most of all Ueda. While traveling out in the open Musashi has a tense encounter with the heads of the Kempo, but Denshichirō adamantly forbids any foul-play against Musashi. Gion Toji suddenly reappears after his long absence, and looks noticeably worse for the wear (he seems to symbolize Musashi had he remained so angry). Toji has been away from the Kempo dojo during his search for Musashi, and, as such, attacks Musashi blindly, but is cut down swiftly. Ueda, now seriously worried over the possibility of his master's death, hatches a dirty scheme to solicit Sasaki Kojiro to fight Denshichirō's battle instead. Matahachi, who has now begun to refer to himself as Sasaki Koujiro (accent on the second syllable) after being apprehended by Kempo swordsmen, encounters the real Sasaki Kojiro as he travels through a field. The Kempo swordsmen attempt to invite Kojiro back to their dojo, but the encounter turns bloody after one member, entranced by Kojiro's skill, attacks him. Kojiro kills another swordsman, but before he can kill the last one, is stopped by Matahachi who sympathizes with weaker men. Matahachi then takes Kojiro to the Kempo dojo, posing as his interpreter. The men are outraged that a man that has killed one of their own be invited as an honored guest, but Ueda quickly stifles the furor. Matahachi flees, after he discovers the plot to have Kojiro fight Musashi instead. When Ueda pleads to Denshichirō to give his consent to the plan, Denshichirō excommunicates Ueda from the clan.

Kojiro wanders away from the Kempo dojo out of boredom (he has no idea what he was brought to the dojo for) and returns back to the place he was staying, which, as fate would have it, is the exact same place Musashi is staying at. Musashi spies Kojiro attempting to cut through Musashi's snowman's head with a stick, but is frustrated that he cannot. The two engage in a rather playful fight in which Musashi arguably "wins", however, the fight takes a serious tone when Kojiro eagerly draws his sword in the hopes of a real fight. The fight is cut short, however, by Hon'ami's mother, who calls the two men in for dinner. Musashi and Kojiro develop a bizarre camaraderie, in which Musashi seems to revere Kojiro more than any other swordsman he has met to date. Musashi then leaves the next day to duel with Denshichirō, and sees that Kojiro is now able to completely cut through his snowman's head.

Before the duel with Denshichirō begins, Ueda draws a pistol on Musashi, who chastises Ueda for resorting to such tricks to protect his master and dispatches his weapon. Ueda then states the attack was just a ploy; he had no knowledge on how to operate a firearm and, what's more, the pistol was probably in a non-operable state. Ueda relents, but states to Musashi that if Musashi kills Denshichirō then the Kempo clan will become solely fixated on killing Musashi. Musashi, uninterestedly, passes through the massive crowd and battles Denshichirō regardless. The duel with Denshichirō seems one-sided throughout, as Musashi even sees no need to draw his blade for the majority of the fight, opting instead to fight the battle in his mind. Musashi eventually does draw his blade, and cleaves through Denshichirō's arm with one stroke. Denshichirō, now solely intent on killing Musashi with no regard for his own safety, grasps Musashi and attempts to kill him, but Musashi unceremoniously guts him with a swift stroke of his wakazashi. Denshichirō then solemnly states that he is glad to have had Musashi as his final opponent, and perishes. Ueda is then given notice that his exile from the clan was to last only until Denshichirō's death. Ueda, now the head of the Kempo clan and hell-bent on vengeance, plans to ambush Musashi with all 70 Kempo members when Musashi attempts to leave Kyoto.

Musashi and Matahachi run into each other and have a tearful reunion. Unfortunately, the meet turns ugly when Matahachi's jealousy over Musashi's skill crops up, causing a drunken Matahachi to accuse Musashi of running off with Otsu. Musashi, utterly appalled at the notion, punches Matahachi in the face and renounces his friendship. Musashi begins to meditate within a massive pine tree. As he reflects on his isolation from the world, he overhears Ueda and the rest of the heads of the Kempo plot to have all 70 Kempo members ambush him. Musashi, nonplussed, elaborates that he will certainly die from such an attack, and opts to attack the small number of the heads of the Kempo beneath the tree. Musashi, losing his composure, antagonizes Ueda into fighting him. Ueda then makes light of the fact that Musashi would become so angry at his own imminent death but feel nothing for killing Denshichirō and his brother. Ueda takes advantage of this emotional distraction and manages to successfully cut Musashi. The battle is cut short by an interloping Takuan, who houses Musashi for the night. During his stay, Musashi states he will flee before the fight the next day against the Kempo, and that he is unaffected by the reaction a "cowardly" retreat would have with other people. Musashi thanks Takuan, who notices that Musashi's generosity is the sign of the greatest of swordsmen, and flees.

Mid-flight, however, Musashi begins to have second thoughts, and returns for reasons unknown even to him. Musashi spies the Yoshioka amassing under the same great pine as where Musashi had his confrontation with Ueda. Musashi takes his early arrival to his advantage and descends upon the Yoshioka swiftly and silently, successfully carving a swath through their ranks to Ueda. Musashi draws his sword swiftly and cuts off a rather sizable portion of Ueda's face, temporarily incapacitating him. Musashi then proceeds to do battle with the entirety of the Yoshioka clan. Despite many deceitful attempts, the Yoshioka are mercilessly slaughtered by Musashi one by one, leading up to a sneak attack by Kurando and a wounded Ueda that ends with both dying at Musashi's hands. Musashi, critically wounded and exhausted, begins lurching his way out of Kyoto, where he runs into Akemi, the girl with whom he lived briefly. Akemi states that Musashi was foolish for abandoning his life with her, attempts to stab him, says she is Seijuro's woman, than proceeds to leap into a nearby river, committing suicide in front of a stunned Musashi.

* After the Yoshioka War / Kojiro Revisited: "Chapters 243-present [251] (Volumes 28-present)"

The arc begins an unspecified time after the first Kojiro arc, with Kojiro in the den of a kindly prostitute and her pet frog. Gonnosuke and Ittosai are noticeably absent. The prostitute is unusually philanthropic; she refuses money if her clientèle are nice to her. The prostitute goes outside after making love to Kojiro to see Tsujikaze Kohei (scar absent). Tsujikaze and the prostitute had previously been together. Tsujikaze, after his imprisonment, downward spiral into severe depression and nihilism, and subsequent release, returns. He pierces the prostitute's right eye with his sword and stomps on her pet frog, killing it. Kojiro, upon seeing this, retrieves his sword and steps outside to confront Tsujikaze. Tsujikaze, not taking Kojiro seriously, states that Kojiro is merely wasting time until his death. Tsujikaze attempts to attack him, but Kojiro dodges, shoves Kohei back than slices through his face, delivering the scar we saw in the Baiken arc. It's highly suggested that the technique Kojiro used was the famous Swallow Cut (Tsubame Gaeshi).After Musashi's great fight he is taken care by Takuan and finally encounter with Jotaro, Matahachi and Otsu. Musashi can not walk because of the wound in his leg and it seems like he can not keep on fighting.Soldiers comes to arrest Musashi for killing 70 warriors of the Yoshioka.

Differences with the novel

*In the manga, Sasaki Kojirō is deaf, mute, and childlike in nature. In the novel, Sasaki Kojirō is neither deaf nor mute. Though he still retains some traces of the childlike nature portrayed in the manga, he is very intelligent and cunning. Moreover, he is also much more violent, arrogant, and slanderous.

*In the manga, Seijurō is portrayed as a playboy and an alcoholic while his brother, Denshichirō, is depicted as a dedicated swordsman who is committed to the Way of the Sword. Seijurō is still portrayed as a playboy in the novel, but he is a more serious swordsman than his brother. Denshichirō was described as the unserious one who enjoyed liquor far more than his brother.

*In the manga, both Seijurō and Denshichirō were killed by Musashi. In the novel, only Denshichirō was killed. Seijurō fought Musashi but survived.

*In the manga, the Yoshioka conflict ends when Musashi kills all seventy swordsmen of the Yoshioka. In the novel, the Yoshioka school is far less numerous and the conflict ends after Musashi slays the last heir of the Yoshioka, Genjirō. Musashi’s action haunts him for the remainder of the novel.

*Gion Tōji neither dies in the novel nor is the bloodthirsty warrior portrayed in the manga. Rather, he is similar to Matahachi, full of envy and cowardice. He escapes with Oko and makes a living with her as a criminal. They encounter Musashi on his path more than once in the novel and swear vengeance upon him.

*In the manga, when Takezō is taken away from Miyamoto village, Takuan renames him Miyamoto Musashi after teaching him simple values of life. In the novel, Takuan captures Takezō and takes to the regional Daimyō for punishment. Takuan, a great friend of the Daimyo, is granted his request to pass judgment: Takezō is locked in solitary confinement for three years. His room is filled with books chosen by Takuan, which consist of Greek philosophy, war tactics, art, and history. After reading these books many times, Takezō emerges three years later, much calmer and gentler than before. Takuan then renames Takezō Miyamoto Musashi.

*In the manga, Seijurō does not rape Akemi. Though Akemi initially longed for Musashi, she eventually called herself “Seijurō’s woman” and jumped off a cliff. In the novel, Seijurō rapes Akemi after he discovers that she still has feelings for Musashi. Akemi then attempts to commit suicide but is rescued by Uncle Gon.

In the novel, Musashi did not meet with Sekishusai.

In the novel, Musashi did not have a bout with Inshun.

In the novel, In'ei is a senile old man.

External links

* [ Inoue Takehiko Official Website]
*ann manga|id=1595|title=Vagabond

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