8 Books/Manga Like Vagabond | TheReviewGeek Recommends

8 Books/Manga Like Vagabond

Vagabond is a historical samurai manga written by Takehiko Inoue and Eiji Yoshikawa. This manga’s known for its deep storytelling, realistic art style, and a fantastic display of martial arts. This series was serialized in Kodansha’s seinen manga magazine called Morning ever since September 1998. Viz Media licensed the series for an English release in North America and has published 37 volumes of the work as of April 2015. The manga’s been on a hiatus since May 2015, but fans can’t wait for its return.

If you’re in the mood for more action-adventure-themed manga that offers a similar vibe, fear not! We’ve gathered together 8 books/manga to check out when you’ve caught up with Vagabond’s story. Of course, if you feel we’ve missed any of your favorites, do comment below and let us know!

The Climber – Shinichi Sakamoto

Similarities –Characters, Story, Themes

The Climber and Vagabond are based on real-life stories. Where Vagabond is based on the 17th-century swordsman Miyamoto Musashi, The Climber is partially based on the travels of a mountain climber named Buntaro Kato. Furthermore, Vagabond’s artwork feels superior in quality and scale. However, fans shouldn’t let these drawbacks ruin their impressions of The Climber.

While The Climber starts off as ordinary sports manga, it spirals into something more mature and deep. The Climber offers a wonderful examination of Mori Buntarou, its protagonists, life goals, and internal struggles. Readers will adore seeing Mori ponder over his life’s accomplishments and ask himself why he continues to push forward in life.

It’s these brief psychological aspects that draw readers to continue the series. With its wonderful locales, well-written protagonist, and mature themes, The Climber promises to deliver an excellent narrative that readers will remember.

Vinland Saga – Makoto Yukimura

Similarities – Historical & Action

Vinland Saga is another manga series that pays tribute to its historical settings. From the details of its ships to the activities its characters participate in, you’ll become immersed in the manga’s Viking-themed culture and environments. Like Vagabond, you’ll be enamored by how much thought and research Makoto Yukimura put into creating Vinland Saga’s world and characters.

Our story takes place amidst a war between England and the Danes. Many people perish from this war, causing many citizens to grow tired of the town factions’ constant hatred toward each other. Every vikings disagrees with the commoners’ sentiments except for Thorfinn. Although he hates war, Thorfinn’s deadset on murdering Askeladd, a man who took his father’s life.

Despite being a novice warrior at first, Thorfinn develops into a noble fighter like Vagabond’s Musashi. Thorfinn’s undergone his share of stressful and justifiable issues, allowing fans to empathize with his character. Lastly, Vinland Saga evokes a strong sense of adventure that’s on par with the atmospheric quest Musashi embarks on. If you’re looking for another mature storyline with a remarkable protagonist, give Vinland Saga a shot.

Berserk – Kentarou Miura

Similarities – Anti-Hero, Mature Themes, Action

Berserk is a phenomenal manga that went on to inspire many authors, game developers, and filmmakers. This series is jam-packed with extremely violent fights, nightmarish imagery, and a cast of well-rounded characters. Like Vagabond, you’ll be enamored by the level of quality and detail that went into Berserk’s storytelling and the universe.

This manga follows Guts, a man who gets involved with a powerful syndicate led by the noble warrior Griffith. Several years pass as we see Guts take on a commander role for Griffith’s army. While all seems well, Guts senses a dark presence looming over him. Guts must overcome various mental and physical hurdles to attain peace in his life.

Like Musashi, Guts will encounter many villainous individuals who can be leaps above him in strength or size. He’s a no-nonsense type of individual though and isn’t a fan of showing his foes any mercy. Both stories aren’t for the faint of heart as Berserk doesn’t shy away from showing excessive amounts of gore or nudity. If you want a mature manga to read that delves into highly intellectual concepts, give this manga a read.

Real – Takehiko Inoue

Similarities – Characters

At first glance, Real and Vagabond don’t look anything alike. Despite being written by Takehiko Inoue, Real’s storyline is more basketball and sports-focused, unlike Vagabond. Although they differ in theme, Real’s protagonist Tomomi Nomiya must overcome the same mental roadblocks as Musashi does in Vagabond.

It’s these characters’ goals to achieve their dreams that bind these narratives together. In Real, Nomiya’s a delinquent who drops out of school because he ruined a girl’s life in a traffic accident. Where he used to adore assisting his basketball team, he spends his time helping her. One day, he meets a sprinter named Kiyoharu, who can’t use her right leg and spends her time playing wheelchair basketball.

Despite having an advantage, Tomomi loses to Kiyoharu. Not wanting to let his passion for basketball die, Nomiya vows to become a professional player again. Real is a character-driven narrative that pulls at your heartstrings. Fans who adored the well-detailed environments and facial expressions in Vagabond will find similar polished artwork in Real. You’ll adore seeing Real’s characters overcome their issues to attain happiness.

If you’re looking for an emotional and character-driven basketball manga with a well-written plot, give Real a shot.

Blade of the Immortal – Hiroaki Samura

Similarities – Samurai & Realistic Art Style

Blade of the Immortal is a well-drawn samurai manga. It contains a wonderful narrative, a likable cast, and epic fights that’ll keep you invested. The manga follows Manji, a samurai who must murder 1000 evil perpetrators to retain his ability to die of natural causes. He’s a wise-cracking individual who’ll make viewers laugh.

Manji’s not all jokes, though. He displays acts of seriousness in his mentor role thanks to the story’s inclusion of a 16-year-old girl named Rin Asano. These characters have fabulous chemistry and strive for things that lean toward the violent spectrum. It’s the manga’s reflection of feudal Japan, moral conflicts, and immaculate action that’ll convince Vagabond fans to continue reading.

If you’re looking for a brutal and slightly comedic samurai manga with a well-developed cast, give Blade of the Immortal a shot.

Holy Land – Kouji Mori

Similarities – Psychological, Characters, Action

Holy Land is a martial arts-based manga that shares some ground with Vagabond. This manga follows a delinquent named Yuu Kamishiro who doesn’t fit in anywhere. He stops going to school and goes on a stroll to find a place that’ll accept him. Eventually, Yuu becomes infatuated with fighting and trains effortlessly in the art of boxing.

After he hones his skills, he flees to the streets, defending himself from wannabe thugs and gangsters. His carelessness gets him wrapped up in several bouts as people start referring to Yuu as the Thug Hunter. Therefore, the manga focuses on Yuu’s sole journey of reaching the “holy land” of his dreams one fight at a time.

This manga features intense action and challenges Yuu from a physical and psychological standpoint. He’ll need to overcome various hurdles if he hopes to reach the land of his dreams. Like Musashi, fans will enjoy seeing Yuu gradually become a more mature and understanding individual as the story progresses.

While the fights are immaculate, it’s the thought process going into Yuu’s fights that serve as one of its best qualities. If you’re looking for a fun and deep storyline about a wandering fight from the streets, this one is worth checking out.

Mushishi – Yuki Urushibara

Similarities –Atmosphere & Characters

It may be difficult for some to ponder the similarities between Mushishi and Vagabond. The former follows a story about a peaceful traveler while the other hones in on the unfortunate life of a wanted criminal. While Vagabond’s more brutal than Mushishi, both series evoke a sense of adventure with their alluring atmosphere and artwork.

Yuki Urushibara fabulously captures the beauty of nature with her artwork. Despite Mushishi’s Ginko not being a fighter, his travels evoke a similar sense of discovery and self-reflection as Musashi’s. Both characters travel to various locations and interact with their environments in realistic ways. The mood always feels melancholic and you’ll be left questioning multiple things with each world.

Urushibara spends time fleshing out her side characters too. You’ll adore their interactions with Ginko and how their personas reflect the world he’s a part of. If you’re looking for another atmospheric-heavy series that follows the daily adventures of a wandering gentleman, give Mushishi a shot.

Song of the Long March – Da Xia

Similarities –Sword Fights & Revenge

Da Xia’s Song of the Long March follows princess Yongning, whose father, mother, and brothers are murdered by her father’s coup d’état. Fortunately, Yongning survives the exchange but learns that many believe she has died alongside her family. Enraged, Yongning vows to avenge her family by taking on the name Li Chang Ge and moving to the Shou province to advance her goals.

Li Chang Ge swiftly climbs the Shou emperor’s military ranks and becomes a brilliant strategist. Therefore, readers follow Li Chang Ge’s adventures and comradeship with her new team. Like Vagabond, Song of the Long March is a samurai story done with realism in mind. The characters don’t have superpowers, allowing readers to find relationships in these characters’ internal struggles.

Da Xia’s artwork is wonderful to look at. You’ll adore the incredible details of its fights, the characters’ expressions, and the world itself. The characters in this story never teeter toward being remotely evil or good-natured. They come across as multifaceted human beings with great personalities and decent goals. If you’re looking for another incredibly-drawn samurai story with hints of militaristic battles and mind games, give Song of the Long March a read.

So there we have it, our 8 books/manga to read after you’ve caught up to Vagabond.

What do you think of our picks? Do you agree? Are there any notable omissions? Let us know in the comments below!

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