4.477 out of 5 from 702 votes
Following a horrific defeat at the battle of Sekigahara, two survivors, Takezo Shinmen and Matahachi Hon’iden, are deflated at having been unable to make a name for themselves and earn glory on the battlefield. But while Matahachi is anxious to go home, Takezo has vowed never to return and intends to become a vagabond, travelling the country polishing and testing his skills as a swordsman. With a beastial mercilessness when it comes to killing and a habit of cutting down all in his path, it doesn’t take long for Takezo to become a wanted fugitive. However, after being captured by a monk named Takuan and given a new lease of life, Takezo begins to live under the name of Musashi Miyamoto. Now, with a new view on life and death, Musashi continues to travel the nation challenging the most infamous fighters to achieve his goal of becoming the strongest samurai ever known.
If you liked Shinobi no kuni, chances are you'd like Vagabond and vice versa. They both have a more subdued type of humor mixed in with unabashed violence. Both also contain characters which are, thankfully, not black and white. They both have excellent pacing, with "Shinobi no Kuni" being the shortest and more fast pace one. Strongly recommend both of them!
Two different paths to become a great samurai intertwines the fate of our 3 protagonists. In Sidooh, 2 boys are abandoned and left to fend for themselves. The only road is to become a respected samurai. Well this is the same for Musashi in Vagabond. He was alone in the world and decided he needed strength. With similar backgrounds and similar paths, these 2 mangas go hand in hand.
Ten years ago, a strong warrior named Thors lost his life in a fight with Askeladd - a powerful and ruthless Viking. Having witnessed his demise, Thors’ son, Thorfinn, became consumed by hatred and vowed to exact revenge on his father’s killer in an honorable duel. With nowhere to go, Thorfinn was recruited onto Askeladd’s ship and began working with the crew as they pillage settlements and trick naive armies. Now, the young boy spends his days honing his battle skills while carrying out Askeladd’s bidding in order to earn his reward of a duel with the vicious captain. But despite having failed in all his bouts with the man he despises so much, will the day ever come when Thorfinn can finally defeat Askeladd and lay his father’s memory to rest?
Looking past the era and samurai aspect, VS and Vagabond follow the story of a man. Vague, I know. Each tell the story of a rabid boy as he embarks on a path to adulthood. Both Thorfinn and Musashi started out as young killers. As events unfold and time passes, our young protagonists grow up and find a certain peace within. From there, Musashi becomes a renown warrior and Throfinn, well, we don't know yet. The mood feels the same and the stories feel the same; a journey of a boy who has been through hell as he becomes a man. If you like one, the other will be just as good.