It dawned on me that my subject heading makes it sound like no one reads these books I'm talking about. That's not true! It just that no one checks them out of my library collection, so I thought I'd try to promote them better! This next manga series is geared more towards adults than teens, but we have it in the teen collection since we didn't have an adult graphic novel collection at the time we bought the series.
Vagabond by Takehiko Inoue is a manga adaptation of Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa. This fictionalized biography details the life of Miyamoto Musashi, the legendary swordsman who created the two sword techinque "nitenichi". He also was an author of The Book of Five Rings. The manga takes place at the end of the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600. Pretty much a common thug at that point in his life, he begins his travels to become a strong warrior samurai.
The realistic look of this manga will surprise many readers. The artist, Inoue, is best known for his sports manga, Slam Dunk, so this work surprised many at his skill as an artist--especially me! The action and setting of the story is historically realistic, so samurai duels are bloody and violent. I think the reason many people haven't picked this title up is that samurai grpahic novels, besides Rurouni Kenshin, aren't that popular here at our library. I think this one would appeal to many people who don't like graphic novels but enjoy martial arts or historical fiction.
I only caution that this is a title best suited for older teens and adults due to the realistic portrayal of life in the 1600s Tokugawa-ruled Japan. The series has won top manga honors in Japan--including the Grand Prize Award at the Japan Media Arts Festival, the Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize, the Kodansha Manga Award--and was nominated for an Eisner Award here in America.
Try it out and then come chat with me about Musashi!