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Book Review < Back

Vagabond vol. 2

Credits: Written and Illustrated by Takehito Inoue
Publisher: Viz

Commentary

Shinmen Takezo has returned to his home village of Miyamoto to repay a debt of obligation to his best friend Matahachi: he has to tell Matahachi's mother that her son is still alive, but has chosen not to return home.

Unfortunately, he underestimates the old woman's spite and hatred, and finds himself a hunted fugitive after her betrayal. Reduced to the state of an exhausted, starving animal, Takezo can only rely on his fierce survival instinct and his ability to kill without hesitation to stay alive. Only Matahachi's fiancÚ Otsu and a mischievous monk are willing to help him, but the net is closing in, and Takezo soon finds himself strung up in a tree in preparation for death.

But death is irrelevant if he can't answer one question: does he have a soul or is he just a feral killer that would be better off dead?

This second chapter continues the story of Takezo's journey to become Miyamoto Musashi, one of the greatest samurai who ever lived. The story depends on a clear naturalism rather than superhuman feats. The characters are human and driven by very real desires and needs. Inoue delves deep into the psyches of Takezo to dissect the anger and bloodlust that hide an unspoken need for love and succour, and the artwork is some of the most beautiful pen-and-ink work in any comic being published now. VAGABOND reimagines one of the most famous legends from Japanese history into the story of an archetypal existential loner trying to find his place in the world, and who can't relate to that?

-- Adi Tantimedh

 
Adi Tantimedh is a screenwriter and filmmaker who writes comics when he has the time. He has recently completed JLA: The Age of Wonder for DC Comics, and written and directed Open House, a short film for Studio FP in Italy. His current projects include the forthcoming Blackshirt for Moonstone Books, Anna Passenger, a novel being serialised on Opi8.com, and various film and television projects.

 


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