Musashi and Sasaki Kojiro sit side by side in 'Vagabond'.

‘Vagabond’ Doesn’t Need an Anime Adaptation

Vagabond is any history buff’s must-read manga since it’s the fictional retelling of Japan’s ‘sword saint,’ Miyamoto Musashi. Even after its indefinite hiatus since 2015, Vagabond remains one of the most popular mangas of all time.

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Which brings us to an even bigger mystery: why has Vagabond never been adapted into an anime? The hiatus shouldn’t be an issue since there are more than 300 chapters currently available. Most fans would say that Inoue Takehiko’s art style is too good for any studio to do justice to on screen.

Part of this is true since Takehiko used an ink brush to draw the manga. This gave the work a detailed yet realistic feel, which may not look as great when animated.

But there are several other reasons why a Vagabond anime adaptation may never work out. The graphic themes shouldn’t be an issue, since we’ve had several anime, like Berserk and Vinland Saga, that portrayed all sorts of violence on screen. Vagabond, like those other two works, is a gritty work with characters who don’t hesitate to assault, kill, and enslave others. It’s a story set during the Sengoku period, so you shouldn’t expect anything less in war.

However, the storytelling itself would be another problem. Simply put, reading Vagabond is a reflective experience that takes time to digest. Even a binge-reader like myself had to slow down, as several chapters of this series made me stop and ponder. The fights between Musashi and the countless men he’s slain would get anyone hooked, but this is also the journey of a soldier who slowly learns to become human. Most protagonists would gain more power as the story moves to the finish line, but that’s not where Musashi’s growth leaned.

This manga follows the struggles of Musashi, who was abandoned by his mother and rejected by his father. It has slower moments that show his pain and mental anguish. These moments may be good to read and contemplate, but they’re difficult to animate in a way that would be engaging for many viewers. That being said, Vagabond may be best left as a manga unless some brave studio decides to take it on as a challenge.

(featured image: Viz Media)


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Author
Vanessa Esguerra
Vanessa Esguerra (She/They) has been a Contributing Writer for The Mary Sue since 2023. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Economy, she (happily) rejected law school in 2021 and has been a full-time content writer since. Vanessa is currently taking her Master's degree in Japanese Studies in hopes of deepening her understanding of the country's media culture in relation to pop culture, women, and queer people like herself. She speaks three languages but still manages to get lost in the subways of Tokyo with her clunky Japanese. Fueled by iced coffee brewed from local cafés in Metro Manila, she also regularly covers anime and video games while queuing for her next match in League of Legends.