Author Topic: Thoughts on Vagabond's Future  (Read 2883 times)

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Offline Walter

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Thoughts on Vagabond's Future
« on: August 13, 2016, 07:57:21 PM »
"What happened to Vagabond?" I asked myself this weekend.

It's been several years since I've followed the series episodically, because I prefer reading Inoue's stories at the consistent pace that a volume allows. I'm also comfortable with waiting for official releases. So, I check in every six months or so to see how much material I've missed, and when I can pick up the next Viz edition. As it turns out, I haven't missed much at all. The last Vagabond release was #327 in May 2015, about 5 chapters into what would be Volume 38. There's been no word since then.

So, I began re-reading a large chunk of it, starting from the point where I felt both Musashi and Inoue lost their momentum: Volume 28 (directly after the Yoshioka battle). How did I feel about the series after all this time? How did I feel about it being seemingly cast adrift, still several volumes from its conclusion?

I've fallen in and out of love with Vagabond over the past several years, and it stems from my feelings about Inoue and his dedication to the story. It's always been a series that sort of lives in my head. I admire not only the fantastic art and characters Inoue creates, but also the philosophical concepts that go beyond the page. Inoue has always nailed those three elements, making them feel larger than the medium itself. He does the same in his other works. But it's Vagabond's story that Inoue seems to have trouble with. The thing that ties those three elements together and pushes them along. And I would guess that the trouble is due in large part to it not necessarily being his story to tell. Musashi's exploits are legendary in Japan, and there have been numerous adaptations and incarnations of the character for more than a hundred years. Inoue has of course made changes along the way, particularly with the characterizations, which now feel entirely like Inoue's creations. But the core remains the same as Yoshikawa's great novel, and that's more true as we edge close to the ending.

That's one weight hanging on the shoulders of Inoue. The other was hinted at during his interview about The Last Story: His anxiousness about bringing a story about a man who's murdered more than a hundred people to a satisfying conclusion. What will Musashi's legacy be? It feels like wrapping up this story has become a burden to him more than a work of love and passion. That sense comes primarily from an implacable feeling after reading the recent volumes numerous times, but also due to Inoue appearing to indicate his intent to wrap things up (The Last Manga exhibition, the Ganryujima cameo, Matahachi talking about the story he's telling), and then expanding the story in a different, lengthy direction instead. There could be a logic here that will make sense when all is said and done, but in the moment, it's hard to judge favorably.

So, with all of those feelings swimming in my head, I read from 28 to 37 this weekend to see if my previous feelings still held up. Like Musashi, I'm capable of changing my opinions of things as I grow with time. So, was it just my impatience getting the better of me? Is Inoue actually a master storyteller who simply took on too many other projects simultaneously? Is the farming sequence really as long and drawn out as it felt before?

Well, I do think I have been a bit impatient. The slowed releases in recent years along with this "adrift" storyline for Musashi weren't a very encouraging pairing, even if there were some great scenes with the farmers (I previously had missed the parallel between Musashi and Shusaku. Shusaku initially refuses to share his higher quality seeds and farming knowledge with others. Musashi refuses to become an instructor, sharing his unique perspective of the sword with others). I do think Inoue can eventually bring the story to a satisfying conclusion, and I also think I now have a sense of what that direction will be. It's just that it's taken him a LOOOOOOOOOONG time (literally 10 volumes) to establish this interim period before Musashi arrives at Kokura, which began after the Yoshioka fight. He needed to demonstrate the pivot Musashi must make in his life, after being haunted by his murderous lifestyle, yet still dedicated to the sword.

The one big thing I feel like I've missed in previous readings are the scenes where Musashi is thinking about the way of the sword without killing someone, and what that might mean to people. He was asked about it in jail, it was alluded to by the sculptor, and Musashi thinks about it again when he's training the women. I believe Inoue is setting up his Musashi to be the man who fundamentally changes the culture around  "the way of the sword" from being about killing people to where it is in Japan's heritage today: the pursuit of perfection without being focused on death. That would be consistent with what he's learned over the years from his various masters. But will it be consistent with how his duel with Kojiro ends...? How will Inoue cross that bridge? If I knew, I'd probably be a lot less interested in reading it :)

So, that's where I landed. Hopeful, despite the extended hiatus. The series is in a promising place, and my re-read helped refresh my sense of Inoue's direction. But boy, it's been a rough few years, guys...
:femto: :slan: :ubik:

Offline Eluvei

Re: Thoughts on Vagabond's Future
« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2016, 10:24:35 PM »
"What happened to Vagabond?" I asked myself this weekend

That's funny, I was reading this section yesterday, wondering the same thing.

It's not that my opinion of it changed, I have nothing but fond memories of reading the volumes and obsessing over it and Inoue's other works (and videos), but I guess I'm sort of done with Vagabond. I feel no urge to re-read it, or to keep up with new releases. I've recently found myself with more time on my hands, so I've revisited several things I like, and the only comics I got back into were Berserk and Blame!, Vagabond didn't even cross my mind. I do check out the two artbooks from time to time...

It feels like wrapping up this story has become a burden to him more than a work of love and passion. That sense comes primarily from an implacable feeling after reading the recent volumes numerous times, but also due to Inoue appearing to indicate his intent to wrap things up (The Last Manga exhibition, the Ganryujima cameo, Matahachi talking about the story he's telling), and then expanding the story in a different, lengthy direction instead. There could be a logic here that will make sense when all is said and done, but in the moment, it's hard to judge favorably.

I think that sums it all up really well. If I had to put a finger on why I stoped caring, I suppose I have no confidence he can create a satisfying ending under the circumstances he made public very often, and I don't really feel like finding out anymore. When the farming section happened it felt like a decent stopping point to me.

So, that's where I landed. Hopeful, despite the extended hiatus. The series is in a promising place, and my re-read helped refresh my sense of Inoue's direction. But boy, it's been a rough few years, guys...

Thanks for the write-up. Even if I'm not keeping up with it, I also hope Inoue finishes the series on a high note. I'm always gonna be a huge fan of his.

Offline Kaladin

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Re: Thoughts on Vagabond's Future
« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2016, 11:00:39 PM »
I hope he starts drawing sometime soon, the manga has been on hiatus for almost 12 months, i don't want to see him go past his previous 18 month hiatus  :sad:. he's always active on twitter, he's been in video interviews with Japanese basketball players and seems to be in good health. I wonder what's keeping him form drawing, lack of motivation? or is the story itself becoming challenging to write? he isn't working on REAL either  :sad:. I haven't lost interest in either of his series and eagerly looking forward to their return. Vagabond's story never lost momentum or dipped in quality for me, i thoroughly enjoyed the farming portion, the only the thing that dipped in quality is the art in the last few volumes and the recent episodes, the art in REAL took a bigger hit.

Offline MiyamotoPuck

Re: Thoughts on Vagabond's Future
« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2016, 12:39:22 PM »
So, I began re-reading a large chunk of it, starting from the point where I felt both Musashi and Inoue lost their momentum: Volume 28 (directly after the Yoshioka battle).

I share this feeling, it's exactly at this point that I began to lose interest in it. I dropped it for a while and I read Slam Dunk and Real which made me think that Inoue is really amazing. But unfortunately I'm still conflicted about whether I want to continue Vagabond or not (I'm currently Volume 30). I lack motivation.

Offline m

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Re: Thoughts on Vagabond's Future
« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2016, 05:02:52 PM »

I stopped reading around the time when we see an old Matahachi telling stories on a bridge. When I was reading I thought it was a great story, but when the long breaks started happening I just didn't come back. I think I will read from start to end if the story is ever finished, as I'm very interested in how it all ends.

Offline asic

Re: Thoughts on Vagabond's Future
« Reply #5 on: August 16, 2016, 10:36:33 AM »
I love the Manga but unlike Berserk I do not have the need to follow latest releases. I actually quite liked the rice farming part, it reminded me a lot of the Vinland Saga tree chopping/slavery part which was also great. I have not read beyond the rice farming part but I can take several years without coming back to it and I always re-read it when I do come back to it.

Vagabond for me does not seem to work well reading it in small releases/chunks. I need to sit down with several volumes and get sucked into Inoue's story. 




Offline Griffith

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Re: Thoughts on Vagabond's Future
« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2016, 03:56:01 PM »
I've pretty much been in the same boat. I tried keeping up with new releases but Inoue's schedule just became so erratic. I think I got off the boat a couple of hiatuses ago. I didn't even know he was on another one, I guess I've been hoping to be pleasantly surprised by news of him completing it and then catching up, but it sounds like he might never do it, or even want to.

We've discussed before that the same creative impulses that grant Inoue his best improvisational flourishes may also be antithetical to actually structuring and, most of all, FINISHING this story. I think I've compared it before to a plant or tree with branches continually growing out wildly. It doesn't taper off into anything else or ever "finish," it just keeps growing into a bigger tree until it dies. I'm afraid that's what's happening here because, like we said, every time an end looks like it might be in sight and Inoue seemingly plants a flag declaring those intentions... he goes off on another storytelling tangent instead. Now, that can still bear fruit, but then he seems to lose interest or burn out too. Eventually something has to give, and I'm afraid it will be his enthusiasm for the whole enterprise, if that's not what's happened already. We'll just have to see.

I also think it ultimately hurts that he essentially already wrote the ending of the story, or beyond it, in grand fashion with The LAST Manga Exhibition, where he basically wraps up Musashi's story, and life, and every plot thread to that point in a big museum showpiece. Here's a link to the story translation and there's pictures and descriptions throughout the thread:

http://www.skullknight.net/forum/index.php?topic=11141.msg179305#msg179305



How does one top that; won't anything else seem like a relative wimper after an interactive walk-through art exhibit about your manga? The "panels" are literally paintings on the walls (I think they, including Inoue, thought he was closer to being done then =)! It's also when he expressed concern about the subject matter itself and if it's really worth doing, as Walter alluded to (what's also funny about that, as I said at the time, is how closely it mirrors Musashi's own conflicted feelings, health issues, and general malaise).

I have the accompanying book for that exhibition, which I intended to be a lovely bookend for the series, an epilogue, except now it's more like an epitaph, and I fear it's going to remain the de facto final volume and ending, or the closest thing to it. Whatever happens, you've inspired me to order Volumes 34-37 and catch up to at least where Viz is. I was still checking on the recent episodes throughout the farming arc, but raws and bad translations don't necessarily help keep my interest, so I'll do my part and get the real thing. I just hope Inoue keeps doing his.