Each of us, every single human being, has a path to walk. Wrong or right, it is a path regardless, and what must be known is that with every step forward comes incredible change. Some say that there are many paths to take, which can often instil a sense of anxiety in an individual: Where to go next? What to do now? Have I made the right choice? These are but only a few of the questions that come with a life of choice, but what if I was to say that the choices are not our own, that are lives have been predetermined by some higher power? Pose this question to Monk Takuan and what he’ll tell you is that such a belief allows for us to be completely free. Instead of thinking, pondering, wondering what comes next, we walk forward with determination, facing what comes in our way only when it does so, all the while staying true to ourselves on an instinctual level. Such freedom is a gift few of us have had the pleasure of giving to ourselves, for at it’s very core, this is not something another can present to you…it is something within ourselves.
Miyamoto Musashi has killed seventy men. The Yoshioka school is no more, but he is not without punishment. With his leg severely wounded, and a fog resting over his life’s path, MIyamoto Musashi is taken into custody for the slaughter of the Yoshioka Samurai, but in prison he is not treated like a captive, but like a treasure that needs to be kept safe from all those with the ill intention of stealing it. It is in this cell that Miyamoto Musashi calls “home” for the length of this volume and, although bare, it is this cell that allows him the time, space, and solitude to contemplate where his life’s path will take him next. Can he remain a swordsman with a leg that will no longer keep up with him? Most say “no”, but it is unlike Miyamoto Musashi to accept that which even a blind man can see clear. Perhaps this is not the end of his journey, though his days in combat may finally be over.
Thank you, once again, to Madman Entertainment for allowing me the opportunity to review the latest volume in the long-running Takehiko Inoue Manga Vagabond.
What does a man do after he accomplishes the impossible and lives to survive? Musashi is at what is quite possibly the greatest crossroads of his life after he single-handedly defeats 70 bloodthirsty men from the Yoshioka clan. Shall he continue to live by the sword, or should he settle down to a quiet and happy life? But before he can take his next step, Musashi must recover from his battle wounds?and it remains to be seen whether he’ll even be able to walk again? – Madman Entertainmet
Volume ten of Vagabond, considering the contents of volume nine, takes a mighty step away from literal cut-throat combat to instead heavily showcase Musashi’s mental journey; a feature of his character that has taken second place to his physical journey thus far. Takehiko Inoue seems to understand the immense knowledge that comes with time and experience, seeing as most of the intelligent characters throughout the series happen to be older gentlemen who have walked the same, or very similar, path of Musashi, and understand the detriment that comes with it’s continued traversing. Volume ten centres itself around the idea that Miyamoto Musashi should no longer continue his life as a Samurai but to set his sights on something greater by replacing his sword with the proverbial pen to instead write about the philosophy behind his life’s path rather than continuing on it. This, as we all know, eventually came to fruition with his philosophical masterpiece The Book Of Five Rings.
This volume spoke much about the effects of one’s own ego, and it’s destructive nature. What we caught a glimpse of was a Miyamoto Musashi who has yet to grow in understanding of himself as a whole. What I loved about this volume is it’s realistic representation of a human’s growth. From volume one all the way up until volume nine, what we were experiencing was a boy learning. He was not only learning to become a man, but what he was learning was how to become himself as a man. In volume nine it looked as though his self-knowledge had reached it’s peak, knowing that his soul will not rest if he was to ever run from a challenge. Reading through the latest release though, I’ve come to understand that Miyamoto Musashi is still just a boy, and that his incredible bursts of knowledge and maturity are but small miracles in his growth process. This volume shows just how naive he still.
The reason I carry Vagabond so close to my heart is not simply because I am a fan of Samurai media, in fact, I actually don’t believe it has anything to do with that. Vagabond is a story about growth. It is a story about a boy who doesn’t know what life is about, but has found his own path to walk and is travelling it with every fibre in his being, slowly discovering that second-guessing himself or succumbing to his own ego will only result in his own death. This is a story not about a man wielding a sword, but a man trying to discover what it means to live a life true to his being; something that is undeniably human, and something that we all still feel within ourselves each and every waking moment.
This is a story that is overtly real to me. Walking a certain path, stopping to check if it is indeed the right one, second-guessing yourself and allowing for doubt to seep into your consciousness only to have it eventually consume you. It is something real to us all. Vagabond teaches that this is not the way to live, to not waver in your goals, walk forward with strength and determination, let no one stand in your way. As Takehiko Inoue has said: “Doing what you like equals yourself, and you must not quit yourself“. Vagabond is a story written in layers, and it is only once you’ve peeled them all back that you can truly appreciate this series for exactly what it is; a grand lesson in philosophy.
Pick up Volume Ten of Vagabond (VizBig Edition) now through Madman Entertainment’s online store: Click Here