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Manga Musashi (A Graphic Novel)

A stunning graphic novel biography of the famous samurai warrior who wrote the classic text on Japanese martial arts, The Book of Five Rings.

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A stunning graphic novel biography of the famous samurai warrior who wrote the classic text on Japanese martial arts, The Book of Five Rings

Miyamoto Musashi, the legendary samurai, is known throughout the world as a master swordsman, a spiritual seeker, and the author of the classic Book of Five Rings. This graphic novel treatment of his amazing life is both a vivid account of a fascinating period in feudal Japan and a portrait of courageous, iconoclastic samurai who wrestled with philosophical and spiritual ideas that are as relevant today as they were in his time. For Musashi, the way of the martial arts was about mastery of the mind rather than simply technical prowess. Over 350 years after his death, Musashi still intrigues us—and his Book of Five Rings is essential reading for students of all martial arts and those interested in cultivating a strategic mind.

From School Library Journal

Gr 10 Up—A graphic novel biography about the iconic samurai Musashi Miyamoto (c. 1584–1645). Renowned for his two-sword technique, Musashi was a legendary swordsman, artist, and author. Iori Miyamoto, his adopted son, recounts his late father's life, from his humble beginnings raised and educated by a Buddhist monk, to his formative years, which focused on duels and his skills and reputation with the sword. Later years show his appreciation for the arts. Near the end of his life, Musashi wrote The Book of Five Rings, a classic text on martial arts and military strategy that examined his life and philosophical teachings. Based on William Scott Wilson's biography The Lone Samurai: The Life of Miyamoto Musashi (Kodansha, 2004), this work includes much historical material. The detailed black-and-white artwork provides a strong sense of the era. Well-drawn facial expressions and body language convey emotions in the often wordless art panels. Duels are very brief, often happening off-panel and there's no gory violence. The author aims for "accuracy and subtlety." Pacing is deliberate, examining milestones in Musashi's life. The man himself remains enigmatic, shown speaking in only a few panels. Readers expecting only duels and bloodshed will be surprised by Musashi Miyamoto's disciplined, meditative qualities. This dichotomy of developing technical skills with a sword as well as an enlightened and philosophical mind will appeal to fans of Star Wars' light-sabre wielding Jedi and their Jedi way. Recommended for graphic novel collections where more literary volumes circulate. - June Shimonishi, Torrance Public Library, CA

About the Author

Seam Michael Wilson is a comic book writer from Scotland, living in Japan. He has had many books published with a variety of US, UK, and Japanese publishers, such as The Book of Five Rings, and edited the critically acclaimed AX: alternative manga (Publishers Weekly's "Best Books of 2010" in comics). In 2016, his book Lafcadio Hearn's "The Faceless Ghost" and Other Macabre Tales from Japan was nominated for the prestigious Eisner Award. And in 2017, his book Secrets of the Ninja won an International Manga Award from the Japanese Government.

Michiru Morikawa is a Japanese illustrator and manga artist and winner of the 2005 International Manga and Anime Award. With Sean Michael Wilson, she has created two graphic novels: Buskers and Yakuza Moon. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Sean Michael Wilson (author) / Michiru Morikawa (illustrator)
Shambhala Publications
Year of publication
Number of pages
USD 16.95

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