Vagabond by Takehiko Inoue, who is also the creator of Slam Dunk and Real, features realistic art and a story that, while rooted in history, feels larger-than-life. Not only that, but the series has a strong cast of characters that grow and develop in a way that's not just relatable but interesting as well. For these reasons and more it is my second favorite manga of all-time right behind Berserk by the one and only Kentaro Miura.
If you are new to Vagabond, the story follows Miyamoto Musashi on his journey to become the greatest swordsman. Because of his brutish and violent ways, a lot of people think he’s something like a demon, but we as the reader, know he’s so much more than that and we really see him develop and grow over the course of the volumes.
The people he meets along the way add so much to this story too and they not only affect us but Musashi as well. Vagabond is a story based on the real-life swordsman Miyamoto Musashi, but while it has roots in history, it feels like this larger than life tale as mentioned prior. Also as far as samurai stories go, it’s one of the most unique, relatable, and engrossing I’ve ever read.
There are two ways to collect Vagabond currently with English translation, the individual volumes, which are now out of print, and the Vagabond Vizbig Editions. But how do the Vagabond Vizbig Editions compare to the individual volumes and are they worth picking up? Here are my thoughts!
How many volumes of Vagabond are there?
So far, 37 individual volumes and 12 Vizbigs have been released of the series. I do want to mention that Vagabond is currently on hiatus, but please don’t let the fact that it’s on hiatus stop you from experiencing this incredible story. The Vizbig volumes are 3-in-1's so with the volumes that have been released so far you can read up through volume 36.
How do the Vagabond Vizbig Editions differ from the individual volumes?
First off, the Vagabond Vizbigs are bigger than the individual volumes. The Vagabond Vizbig Editions are approximately 5.75 x 2 x 8.63 inches whereas the individual volumes are approximately 5.75 x 0.75 x 8.25 inches, so while they are the same size height-wise, they are thicker. The individual volumes are the same size as other Viz Signature releases, like Dorohedoro or Goodnight Punpun, while the Vizbigs are about the same size as the Neon Genesis Evangelion 3-in-1 Editions.
The Vizbigs also have some bonus content, including color pages and storyboard samples. Not a whole lot of extra material, but they do come with some. They have new cover designs as well.
Also the Vagabond Vizbig Editions are easier to find in comparison to the individual volumes given that they are out of print. If you want to learn more about out of print manga, check out our Out of Print Manga Guide.
I know certain volumes of the Vizbigs were or are somewhat harder to find right now, but if you are in search of them please be patient and don’t pay more than cover price for the volumes. Actually, if you are looking to buy them, I believe they are all in stock on Barnes and Noble site right now, but if you are wanting to pick them up for cheaper prices, definitely check out Right Stuf as well since they have a few of the volumes in stock at the time of this post.
Pros and Cons of the Vagabond Vizbig Editions
The print quality is nice
The print quality of Vagabond Vizbigs is great. When you open up the first volume, you have some full-color pages that are striking and more are sprinkled throughout. The pages are crisp and white and have this nice smooth feeling finish to them. Whether he is working in color or black and white, Takehiko Inoue is one of my favorite artists. The print quality of the Vagabond Vizbigs does his artwork justice because the color pages are bold and the contrast seen in the black and white pages is top-notch.
They are cheaper to collect than the individual volumes
If you are looking to spend the least amount of money, the Vagabond Vizbigs are the way to go. They will run you $19.99 USD a piece at the most, so you can get all 12 of the Vizbigs that are out right now for around $239 USD. The prices for the out of print individual volumes are all over the place with some pretty pricey volumes. Because of that, the Vagabond Vizbigs are definitely the easiest and the cheapest way to collect Vagabond right now.
They look good when displayed on or off the shelf
I really enjoy all of the different colors used on each cover of the Vizbigs, but I honestly like both the individual volumes and Vizbigs cover designs and artwork. The Vizbigs are paperback and the covers are laminated and have a glossy finish. Each spine features a different character, but when displayed on the shelf together they form a larger image, which is really cool.
They are easy to read, but there's still some image loss
The Vagabond Vizbig Editions feel a lot more flexible and are much easier to read than some of Viz’s other releases that also have glued binding, like the Neon Genesis Evangelion 3-in-1’s. Although as usual with thicker volumes that have glued binding, there are some issues with image loss towards the center of the volumes, especially when it comes to the panels that span two pages. Not sure if this is something that happens as well in the individuals, but something to keep in mind before purchasing.
Some have reported pages falling out of the volumes, but I haven't had any issues
One of the biggest things I think people are concerned about is that there have been some reviews mentioning the pages falling out. I can only tell you guys the experience I’ve personally had, but I’ve read all twelve of the Vagabond Vizbigs and I haven’t had a single page fall out or any issues with the binding. Others may have had a different experience and had a stroke of bad luck, but luckily I have no issues to report here.
Vagabond would have benefitted from an even larger format release
I do think that Vagabond would have benefited from an even larger format release, maybe something like the Dark Horse Deluxe Editions. It is a series that deserves that hardcover and sewn-binding treatment, but since we don’t have that right now, the Vizbigs are a good way to go if you are looking to read Vagabond.
Final Thoughts: Are the Vagabond Vizbig Editions worth it?
Yes, I think they are worth it. While I still think that the art of Vagabond would shine even more in an even larger format release, these are great editions. They look great on display and they are easy to read despite their thickness. The print quality though is where these really got me. The contrast is beautiful in these and they really do Takehiko Inoue's artwork justice.
All in all, they are the most convenient and easiest way to collect Vagabond right now and the cheapest as well. They have an incredible print quality, cool design, and they are a great way to enjoy the series!
If you are looking to pick up the Vagabond Vizbig Editions, you can pick up the volumes at the sites below!
Vagabond Vizbig Edition Purchase Links
To get an all-around and inside look of the Vagabond Vizbigs Editions check out our video on YouTube below!