Why hasn’t Vagabond been Animated?
Very few manga can be stated to be the best of the best without many people disagreeing. Vagabond by Takehiko Inoue is one of them. Takehiko is a well-known mangaka who made a name for himself by creating the best and most authentic basketball manga called Slam-dunk. Following this, he started work on Vagabond, which would become known as his most outstanding work for multiple reasons, including art style and character development.
The way Takehiko has drawn the manga is surreal, as some panels could be mistaken for real-world photographs. This puts it head and shoulders ahead of its competition, but it is also one of the primary reasons we haven’t gotten an anime of Vagabond yet. Due to the nature of its art and character directions, it is an extremely hard manga to adapt while keeping the source material intact.
It might be easier to make a Vagabond k-drama than to animate it fully. Below are some more reasons and justifications why it can’t be animated. Also, if the artwork is to your liking, check out our online store and get yourself Vagabond-styled clothes and accessories.
1. Art style
One of the significant reasons many will give you online regarding the lack of an anime is the gorgeous art style by Takehiko. The way he draws the environment and the characters is entirely different from other manga, as his backgrounds look like black-and-white pictures of real-world locations. That isn’t to say anime can’t be this good because we have seen some anime that could come close to Takehiko’s art style, but all of them are films with enormous budgets to ensure every frame is pixel-perfect.
This isn’t the case in a seasonal anime, as they have a smaller budget and can’t maintain the same quality. As seen in Beserks’ animation attempt, CGI is also a no-go. Hence, we have no choice but to wait for technology to improve to animate it while maintaining quality.
Vagabond is a seinen manga, meaning it is targeted toward a more mature audience which makes it not as appealing as other Shonen shows to the younger audience. It has a very dark and narrative-driven story where most fights act as finales to the development of a character. Musashi Miyamoto, our main protagonist, is also not a very likable character, as we start by seeing him killing everyone, from innocents to his enemies.
But as the story progresses, we get to know the backstory and how he develops from a simple berserk soldier on the field of Sekigahara to a renowned sword master that killed over 100 opponents in a duel. His eternal rival Sasaki Kojiro is also an oddball as he is introduced midway into the story. We see how he develops and finds himself on a collision course with Musashi. These characters have slow development and take chapters to reach any growth, which might not translate well to anime, though Vagabond k-drama with these characters could work.
3. Realistic Story
It is a known fact that the western media and audiences fantasize and romanticize the Sengoku era, samurais, and their code of life, the Bushido. But, like many things, their depiction of these concepts and events is entirely fictional. Samurai weren’t these good figures that protected the weak, as seen in European Knights. Instead, they served a master and obeyed his every moral or immoral command. This can be seen in the accurate historical documents where Samurai were said to have burned down villages with civilians included.
This kind of Bushido Vagabond depicts will undoubtedly clash with the popular image the Samurai people have built in their heads. That will certainly lead the anime not to be as profitable. When you add that it will be rated for mature audiences, it becomes clear why no studio is willing to invest that much time and money into an adaptation that will not be profitable to them.
Seeing the reasons above, we can see that a Vagabond anime would not be a wise choice as, due to the nature of the story and target audience, the anime could not be profitable enough to make. But a Vagabond k-drama would be perfect as some of the more graphic and mature content could be shown without being censored. And the art style is already life-like, which would also work well with a live-action adaptation.