Tale of Ronin

Vagabond: Ronin, Alienation, and the Sword

The manga Vagabond by Inoue Takehiko is one of the world’s greatest martial art epics. It tells the story of Miyamoto Musashi, ronin, philosopher, and quite possibly the most renowned Japanese swordsman who ever lived. Musashi’s story has been told and retold many times since his death in 1645. Vagabond’s melancholy, violent take on his life was a major source of inspiration for Tale of Ronin.

In the manga, the young Musashi—then called Shinmen Takezo—begins as a violent young outcast who only cares about a few people. After fighting on the losing side of the Battle of Sekigahara and encountering the Buddhist monk Takuan Soho, Takezo is renamed Miyamoto Musashi. He then sets out as a ronin to become the greatest swordsman in Japan. Only after he’s already started down this path does he realize how easy it would be to destroy himself in the process.

Musashi’s journey brings him into conflict with old friends and old enemies. And while the real-life Musashi was famed for being undefeated in his 61 duels, Vagabond’s Musashi faces stronger opposition. Vagabond is as much an exploration of philosophy as it is a samurai drama. Musashi’s development from violent thug to the philosopher who wrote The Book of Five Rings is a major focus. The manga’s realistic character designs, intense action, and lushly detailed settings combine with its nuanced depiction of ronin struggling with morality to create a unique atmosphere.

Vagabond is a loose adaptation of the novel Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa, which was published between 1935 and 1939. Although it took significant liberties with the events of Musashi’s life, it’s one of the best-selling books in history. Vagabond mixes the novel’s portrayal of Musashi with historical records. The result is a tale of alienation, desperation, and what it takes to become a legend.

In Tale of Ronin, players take on the role of a ronin who has lost everything. Now, they must search for a purpose in a world that’s turned its back on them. Throughout the game, players will be faced with difficult choices—choices that shape their journey and determine the outcome of their story. This narrative is heavily influenced by the themes of self-discovery, discipline, and humility explored in Vagabond.