From Yoshihiro Togashi’s Hunter x Hunter to CLAMP’s xxxHolic Re, more and more manga that were on indefinite hiatus are starting to make their return – and based on a recent interview, it seems Takehiro Inoue’s Vagabond could be next.
A liberal adaptation of Eiji Yoshikawa’s novel Musashi, Vagabond recounts a fictionalized version of the life of arguably history’s most celebrated samurai, Miyamoto Musashi, starting with his impoverished upbringing and continuing on through his rise to notoriety.
Having produced over 300 chapters since beginning life in Kodansha’s Morning manga magazine in 1998, Inoue took the series on permanent hiatus in 2015.
Though an official reason for this decision has never been given, fans have speculated that his work on Vagabond was taking a toll on his personal health.
While many fans had since come to accept that Musashi’s tale may very well remain unifished, their hopes were renewed thanks to a December 2nd interview given by Inoue in promotion of the upcoming animated film adaptation of his seminal basketball series, First Slam Dunk (as translated via DeepL).
Speaking about his career as a manga artist, Inoue eventually broached the subject of which of his series – Chameleon Jail, Slam Dunk, Buzzer Beater, Vagabond, or his current Real – he considered to be the ‘turning point’ of his career.
“Slam Dunk was the first work that was accepted,” began Takehiko Inoue. “It was an experience that changed everything, and it was a big turning point for me.”
Turning to Vagabond, the mangaka recalled, “For Vagabond, I wanted to do something completely different from Slam Dunk. I wanted to draw something that was the opposite of that.”
“When I was drawing Vagabond, is a world away from the present day,” he said. “It is a more spiritual world. I wanted to depict someone who is close to reality, someone who could be found anywhere in the world.”
Revealing that he had already been working on his latest sports manga while still actively producing Vagabond, Inoue added, “Having said that, I dove back into the world of wheelchair basketball [with Real], a world that seems familiar to me but is unfamiliar.”
“I was taken to this world because I drew Vagabond,” he continued. “Both in the story and in my work. If I had not drawn Vagabond, there were things that would not have developed in this way. For example, the showing of The Last Manga Exhibition.”
Making its initial debut at the Ueno Royal Museum in Tokyo in May 2008 before making stops in Kumamoto, Osaka, and Sendai, Vagabond: The Last Manga Exhibition (Vagabond: Saigo no Manga-ten) featured 140 Vagabond-related ink-and-brush paintings crafted by Inoue himself.
Considered by fans to be the series’ ‘true final chapter’, the paintings tell the story of a much older Musashi reflecting on his life and passing his the knowledge he learned along the way on to his new apprentice.
It was at this point that Inoue then teased, “It (Vagabond) was a work which broadened my horizons in many ways, and…well, it’s not finished yet.”
“I can’t wait to draw it,” he optimistically concluded.
Unfortunately, as of writing, this is all we have to go on regarding the possibility of Musashi’s future return.
Whether it ever comes to fruition remains to be seen.