Author Topic: Eiji Yoshikawa's Musashi  (Read 2994 times)

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Offline Walter

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Eiji Yoshikawa's Musashi
« on: December 04, 2007, 02:28:00 AM »
Finally finished this huge novel last night, after about two years of procrastination on my part. Great ending, surprisingly amazingly paced towards the end of an otherwise frustratingly structured book.

Yoshikawa's world definitely involves more characters, or at least, focuses on them more than Inoue. This is one aspect that I lean more towards Inoue in. The first half of the book, I could put up with the side characters and their various stories and how they ultimately intertwined, but around the 10th Iori-gets-into-trouble-and-has-to-work-at-the-tea-house chapter, I gave up on reading those seriously.

Obviously, the Musashi chapters are the most intriguing and offer the most insight into Yoshikawa's vision of this legendary figure. His interpretation of Kojiro and Musashi's dynamic has been compared to Satan and Jesus, which I still find... odd. I think they're incredibly similar in many ways while obviously being spiritually polar opposites.

I find Yoshikawa's Kojiro is far more sympathetic than it appears on the surface (though nowhere near the same as Inoue's). Musashi, of course, is also far from perfection even towards the end of the novel. He still encounters missteps, and by his own admission has a long way to go. That being said, the final form of Musashi we have by the end of the novel is an awe-inspiring figure that really did leave a lasting impression on me.

This is all to say I wonder who Musashi will end up being once the series is deemed "complete" by Inoue. The comparison between manga and novel also begs the question: at what point WILL it end?

I've got a few thoughts on the ending myself, but Ill wait for more input from you guys.
:femto: :slan: :ubik:

Offline Uriel

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Re: Eiji Yoshikawa's Musashi
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2007, 12:50:17 PM »
Glad you finally finished it, Wally!

Sadly, I'm not in much of a position to agree or disagree with you, since it's been over three years since I read it (closer to four, now) and cannot recollect as much as I'd like -- what with it being 3,000 pages long. However, I'll agree with the lasting image of Musashi left by the novel. Awe-inspiring is just how I'd put it. But as you also said, he is by no means a "kensei" at this point and has a long, long road ahead of him. The battle between him and Kojiro was an excellent one.. I did feel for Kojiro, but knew he had to go. I want to go back and read it again just for the sake of comparing Satan-Ganryū with Uueoo-Kojirō. I believe seeing the Vagabond Kojirō go will be a very, very difficult task for us all as he has, himself, become as awe-inspiring as our Musashi (I'd argue more so at this point, because he is seemingly without as many flaws at this point) and has that wonderful childish side to him.

It's been said by me a few times now, but I do hope the part where Musashi becomes a country-bumpkin isn't omitted from Vagabond. I feel that the time he spent in introspection and also the event where he saves the village from bandits (pure badassery) are important for building his character. Then again, I also understand that Yoshikawa had much more room to develop him and didn't have to draw each each panel-by-panel.

I would really like to be of more use to this discussion, but I wouldn't want to speak of events as if I know exactly what I'm talking about... hell, I might be guilty of that already =P

Offline IncorrigibleThief

Re: Eiji Yoshikawa's Musashi
« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2008, 08:20:49 PM »
It's been said by me a few times now, but I do hope the part where Musashi becomes a country-bumpkin isn't omitted from Vagabond. I feel that the time he spent in introspection and also the event where he saves the village from bandits (pure badassery) are important for building his character. Then again, I also understand that Yoshikawa had much more room to develop him and didn't have to draw each each panel-by-panel.

I think anyone would argue that an author will always be able to develop character better by the simple fact that a good writer will always leave a portion of his character's portrait up to his readership's imagination. It's a bit harder in the medium of comics to leave as much to the imagination as it is in literature.

For this reason it's difficult for me to try holding Vagabond side-by-side with Musashi.
It's easier for me to feel an immediate connection to the characters as they are portrayed in Vagabond simply because we can clearly see mundane details in the art - things we tend to leave out in our own imaginations but that have the effect of grounding things in reality.
In reading Musashi I felt much more like an observer. I feel also Yoshikawa's aims were a bit more direct and had the effect of hitting close to heart. Vagabond is taking a much more roundabout way. While this is distracting from main themes, it is more true to the world.

Regardless, Takezo is my boy and I love him in both of these potrayals.
It's been over 5 years since I've read it, but I have never forgotten this:

"The little fishes, abandoning themselves to the waves, dance and sing and play, but who knows the heart of the a sea, a hundred feet down? Who knows its depth?"

1cyberninja1

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Re: Eiji Yoshikawa's Musashi
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2009, 05:10:22 PM »
Its been so long since I read Musashi, all I can remember is that I consistently found myself enjoying "Musashi" less when the narrative focused on its main protagonist while my interest waxed when given glimpses into the darker characters. Sasake Kojiro and Osugi were particularly delightful because of their three dimensional personalities were more believably human. Their outcomes were anyone's guess.
Miyamoto Musashi's story on the other hand, unfolds predictably and seems driven by fate. I did not find it as inspiring as most other people here might. Yoshikawa hammers home the old "follow your dreams and let no adversity hold you down" theme too many times and it quickly grows tiring. Other characters such as the weepy provincial lass Otsu and the whiny Jotaro were no less irritating and flat. On the other hand, Akemi, Matahachi, and the monk Takuan had much more flair. In general, Musashi's journey held far more interest for me when he was interacting with other people instead of wasting time as an eremetic wanderer with the occasional squire in unconvincing efforts toward self-improvement. The sub-plots are the real gems of the book, each with its own lesson, parables within a novel. The encounter with Gonnosuke Tanzaemon, (I've read it about 2 years ago - cut me some slack on the names,  :judo:) his attempt to meet the lotus-cutting sword master, the showdown on the Hon'iden plain, and his sojourn with Japan's preeminent geisha rank among the best parts.

The book's length was not justified by the varying pace of the story nor by its simple big ideas and prolonged finale. Yoshikawa could have easily written this in 2/3rds the pages with equal or better literary effect. But as an author, he certainly has a unique voice and a knack for instilling into a character that delicate and complex personality which I can only describe as "magnanimous humility," a sort of practical Buddhist ideal for the worldly layperson.