A Case Study on The Manga Vagabond: Matachi Hon’iden

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[Note: This will not be a overly intellectual or superficial case study.]

“A scholar made is a solider spoiled.”

Ryan Holiday, The Daily Stoic

Written and illustrated by Takehiko Inoue, Vagabond is a philosophical manga series that follows the life of the legendary samurai Miyamoto Musashi.

While Musashi would make for a interesting case study, there is a side character who I believe is far more relevant – Matahachi Hon’iden, the fictional friend of Musashi.

Matachi and Musashi both share the same dream; They both want to be famous samurai. However, their similarities end here. While Musashi is brave, patient, and hard-working, Matachi is cowardly, arrogant, greedy, and lazy.

I think most of us are Matahachi(s).

We desire greatness – sometimes even bragging about having it. Sadly, we rarely match the effort and mindset of the Musashi-like people of the world.

  • When it is time to fight, we cower.
  • When it is time to work, we find ways to avoid it.
  • When it is time to be honest, we lie.
  • When it is time to face pain, we run.

Now, Matahachi is not a bad person. He has a number of redeeming qualities. However, Matahachi is still a failure.

So, how does one leave the Matahachi state? One must train.

[Recommended reading: Vagabond by Takehiko Inoue]

[Recommended reading: The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi]

[Image Source: Chapter 111 of Vagabond]

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