I’ve never really been into manga, but I mentioned to my friend that I wanted to find some books to help step up my Japanese and I was lent the first few editions of Takehiko Inoue’s Vagabond (left pic). Since then I haven’t been able to put it down. My friend will lend me a few at a time, and I end up going back for more every time like a junkie chasing his fix. It’s been around for a bit and won some major awards, but if you don’t already know, Vagabond is a fictionalized historical graphic novel about the most famous swordsman in Japan, Musashi Miyamoto, and the struggle he shared (or rather competed) with many other sword fighters to reach 天下無双 (tenka musou), which literally means “to be peerless in the whole world”. I haven’t had a chance to check out the English translations of the series done by Viz Media, but from reviews I’ve read that it’s been very popular. I highly recommend this series not only as an entertaining look into feudal Japan, but also for it’s compelling illustrations. If that’s more your style then I would also recommend checking out Sumi (right pic) to take a look at Inoue’s pen and brush sketches.