Vagabond Vol. #03 -

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Mania Grade: A

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  • Art Rating: A+
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A
  • Age Rating: 17 & Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 12.95
  • Pages: 232
  • ISBN: 1-59116-049-9
  • Size: A5
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Vagabond Vol. #03

By Jarred Pine     April 15, 2005
Release Date: September 01, 2002

Vagabond Vol.#03
© Viz Media

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Takehiko Inoue
Translated by:Yuji Oniki
Adapted by:

What They Say
Shinmen Takezo has figuratively died and been reborn with the name Miyamoto Musashi. His first destination is Kyoto where he plans to challenge the fierce fighters of the Yoshioka Dojo. Is Musashi mentally and physically prepared to take on this most famous school of swordsmen? Or will Seijuro and Denshichiro Yoshioka, the leaders of the Yoshioka School, be too skilled and experienced for him to handle? Musashi heads out, armed only with his wooden practice sword, to face his fears!

The Review
The cover artwork is the same as the original Japanese release, featuring Musashi blocking an attack from a metal sword with his wooden sword. The back cover has a little illustration of Yoshioka Seijuro flirting with the ladies from the pleasure quarters. More gorgeous illustrations from Inoue and it is great that Viz carried these over. The Japanese logo is replaced by Viz’s translated logo. It has a calligraphy font style like the original Japanese logo.

The volume size is an A5 that reads right-to-left. There are 12 color pages that are at the beginning of three chapters that are wonderful. Also still in place are the little sketches by Inoue at the end of chapters. The print job is fantastic and the paper is of very high quality. There are 2 supplemental pages that include glossary and background information about some of the people and places, as well as info on Musashi and Inoue.

NOTE: Volumes 1-4 were originally not a part of the Editor’s Choice label, so there is no logo on the spine. They also were priced at $12.95.

More lush and gorgeous artwork from Inoue in this third volume. As Musashi moves away from his mountain village and enters the city of Kyoto, the scenery changes and Inoue does a great job at conveying this new setting. Most of the scenes take place within the Yoshioka School, which is richly detailed both inside and out. The character designs continue to be really strong, from the strong, rigid Denshichiro to the pretty, bishie-looking Seijuro. The faces on the characters are so full of life and energy, which helps bring out the enjoyment of the story.

Since Musashi does battle with the Yoshioka School, there is a lot of action in this volume and the artwork doesn’t disappoint. It’s very clean and intense, with each move carefully planned out making it easy to follow along with every swipe and cut of the sword.

SFX are translated and retouched, and a nice retouch job it is by the Viz team. Since Inoue’s strength is his artwork, I would have liked to see the original SFX, but flipping to a glossary or cluttering the panels with subs might have been worse. The retouch is solid and I have no complaints.

The names are presented in traditional Japanese order, with family name first and given name last. The text is really easy to read with a nice, strong font. The dialogue also flows very nicely and with ease. The dialogue really captures the character personalities, especially the two Yoshioka brothers. Their personalities are completely opposite, and it comes across that way in the dialogue. The translation all around is solid and done very well.

Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
After seeing the errors of his previous ways, with guidance from the wise Takuan, Shinmen Takezo puts his name to rest and with it his immature self. He is reborn as Miyamoto Musashi, becoming “invincible under the sun” by the way of the sword. This beginning to volume three always bothers me a little due to the differences with the original novel. In the novel, which I haven’t read in a while so details are sketchy, Takezo is confined to a room in some noble lord’s castle who was a friend of Takuan. While confined, Takezo reads a lot of books on the finer arts and war, reflecting back on his life and realizing how he has been wrong. After being confined for a long period of time he is then released and reborn as Musashi. It was one of my favorite parts of the novel, so seeing this part skipped over always bugs me a little bit. The rushed reborn sequence could have been flushed out a bit more and would have presented Musashi in a slightly different way that I think would have made him a stronger character with a bit more depth. But I digress, as there is a good story being told here!

Kyoto is well known for its great swordsmen and sword schools, the leading one being the Yoshioka School, founded by Yoshioka Kempo, a military instructor to the former shogunate. The Yoshioka school however seems to be in disarray these days as it’s head master, Seijuro, tends to spend more time in the pleasure quarters than at the dojo. His younger brother, Denshichiro, is angered by this and takes the sword instruction much more seriously. When Musashi shows up at the school to challenge the masters (and killing 5 of its members with his wooden sword), it is not Seijuro who takes on Musashi, but Denshichiro. Watching all this unfold secretly from behind the school doors is Matahachi, who has become a jobless drunkard looked down upon by Oko who continues her work as a prostitute.

The match with Denshichiro is an exciting one too read. Denshichiro grew up having to fight his older brother, Seijuro, so his sword skill is definitely strong and proven. What Denshichiro and others don’t know is that Musashi is the son of Shinmen Munisai, who is the only one to have defeated the school’s founder, Yoshioka Kempo. Musashi does not realize the strength of his father, seeing him only as a loathsome brute, but it is because of his father that he is a strong swordsman. Due to a fire at the school bring a halt to the match, it ends in a draw but Musashi definitely was having a hard time. He realized that he is not quite strong enough yet, and he still fears death which keeps him from going at it full strength. This enrages Musashi as he goes off into the night, catching briefly the eye of Matahachi. The story of Matahachi is this volume is depressing, as it is hard to see this coward become the lazy drunk instead of the strong companion.

The battle with the Yoshioka school is an exciting starting point for the newly reborn Miyamoto Musashi. The experiences and lessons that Musashi will take away from this will fuel his desire to become a great, honorable swordsman. The battle with Denshichiro is a great duel between two great swordsman who grew up in the shadow of another stronger figure, both having grievances with that person. The duel does not last too long and features a lot of really strong, clean artwork that makes it pop right off the page. The strongest point of Vagabond is still the lush, gorgeous artwork. The amount of detail that goes into drawing the Yoshioka School is breathtaking, with the fire scene at the end with a screaming Musashi giving me goosebumps. Add in color pages and a solid translation job and once again we have another fantastic release in an even more fantastic series. Extremely recommended.


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