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Matahachi Honiden ( (ほん) () (でん) (また) (はち) , Hon'iden Matahachi) is one of the main characters in the series and a childhood friend of Musashi Miyamoto.

Appearance

Originally, Matahachi wore his hair tied back in a style similar to Takezo's. After staying in Kyoto for a while, he ends up growing a moustache that connects to his goatee. His hair tends to be little messy due to him be mostly always drunk. He also has side burns.

Personality

In Vagabond, Matahachi is portrayed as a cowardly and spineless man. He has a long-held admiration for Musashi from his childhood years, which ultimately lends to his severe inferiority complex as an adult. He often tells lies in an effort to better his perpetually dismal situation, which usually leads him to even more trouble. He is also shown to be something of a drunkard and a womanizer, having several sexual partners over the course of the series.

Relationships

  • Osugi Honiden: His over protective mother. His mother knew that Matahachi tell lies such as the Sasaki Kojiro name. Before her death, she thought Matahachi could be the kindest person that neither Musashi nor herself could achieve.
  • Musashi Miyamoto: Matahachi considered Musashi to be the closest friend he ever had, but whom he abandoned during a time of crisis. As he grows older, Matahachi constantly thinks of Musashi and develops an inferiority complex as Musashi becomes a famous and skilled swordsman. Matahachi follows Musashi over the course of his journey – a fact which Musashi is unaware of– and often helps Musashi from the shadows when he collapses after a fight or is in danger.
  • Otsu: Otsu is Matahachi's ex-fiance and childhood friend, having grown up together with Musashi. However Matahachi was aware that Otsū bonded more with Musashi, and knew that there was a wall between them from the beginning. After he abandons her; the emotional distance between the two increased. After Matahachi saved Musashi, he meets Otsū and proposes to her anew, but Otsū didn't recognise him after their long separation. Matahachi ultimately acknowledges that Otsū loves Musashi and encourages her stay together with Musashi.
  • Oko: Matahachi met Oko when he and Musashi set out at the beginning of the manga, and quickly became infatuated with her. The two ultimately eloped, which began Matachi's mother's long search for her son. However, their marriage soured quickly, as Oko grew tired of Matahachi's cowardice. Her job as a prostitute became a source of frustration and jealousy for Matahachi, as she frequently reminded him of his worthlessness compared to her customers. She finally kicks out Matahachi after he accidentally causes the fire at the Yoshioka school. Though Matahachi later regrets his relationship with Oko, he credits her with teaching him his sexual skills (but also for "spoiling" sex for him, as she was "too good" compared to his later partners).

Biography

Past

He was an illegitimate son of a mistress and the previous Hon'iden head, being born not so long before his father died. The wife of the former head,Osugi Honiden, adopted him as the Honiden had no heir.

He later became best friends with Shinmen Takezo, they played and practiced sword fighting together.

Matahachi's mother arranged Otsu to become his wife.

When Matahachi became 17, he wanted to join the Toyotomi army against the Tokugawa clan at the battle of Sekigahara.

Plot

Takezo Arc

At the beginning of the manga, Matahachi is laying in the aftermath of a battle, along with his long time friend. He had previously left his village of Sakushu with the intention to make a name for himself. He soon discovers that his friend Takezō has also survived that battle after pretending to be a refugee hunter.

The two proceed to flee the battlefield. After walking for quite a while, they stop for a break. They have been walking for three days, and Matahachi expresses his feelings of incompetence. He goes to the bathroom and continues to talk to Takezō. Someone approaches him from behind and puts his sword on his neck. Thinking it to be Takezō pranking him again, he poops on his feet to teach him a lesson. He turns around to see that it is a real refugee hunter, as he cuts Matahachi's arm. Matahachi yells at Takezō to warn him, as Takezō approaches the Refugee hunter. Takezō quickly cuts the man down.

The two evetually shuffle away, Takezō holding him up, as he is hurt. They eventually come to another battle ield. A young girl is ringing a small bell. Takezō and Matahachi pass out.

The two wake up the next morning by a small house. Takezō passes out again and awakes inside of it. A Japanese woman crawls up to Takezo on a wooden floor and asks if he would like a drink. Matahachi tells him to join him also. Takezō, clearly angry, tells him that they're healed and that they're leaving. Matahachi tells him that he must, as they sheltered them for days, even while they were refugees. The woman laughs and suggest that the younger girl, who is named Akemi, should choose one of them to marry, so they could both stay there. Akemi doesn't say anything, and Matahachi says that he can't, even though she didn't say anything to him. She leaves and the older woman says that she refuses to grow up.

Takezō follows Akemi, leaving Matahachi alone with the other women. They gather mushrooms, but Takezō is less than helpful. Filling his basket unknowingly with poisonous mushrooms. Akemi asks why Takezō why he doesn't ask her questions. Matahachi has been asking her questions relentlessly, about how they make a living, her age, where her father is, why she is living with her mother alone in the mountains, and why she wears the bells. Takezō asks how old she is, and Akemi tells him that she is fifteen. Surprised, Takezō admits that that she is older than he expected. He tells her that he is seventeen and she reacts the same way, saying that she thought he was around thirty. Akemi asks Takezo if he has any more questions, and he asks her what she was doing when she found them in the field.

Back at the house, Matahachi is apparently looking through their house. he finds a large number of swords stashed away. The woman walks in as he is looking through them. Meanwhile, Akemi admits that they're thieves. Akemi's mother tells Matahachi that they go to every battlefield, after the fighting is over, and collect swords, armor and anything they can sell for money. They strip them off the corpses, and that's how they make money.

While Matahachi and Takezo lived with Oko and Akemi, Oko attempted to seduce both of the boys. While Takezo refused any advances, Matahachi quickly became her lover.

A man approaches Akemi and Takezō later on. Akemi throws rocks at him and he addresses her by name.

The man was Tenma Tsujikaze a bandit leader.

During their stay at Oko's home, Tenma Tsujikaze and his bandits showed up. Tenma tells Oko to not visit the battlefield and steal the weapons and attempted to take the weapons that they had collected. Tenma states that he is in love with Oko but she says she could never love the man who murdered her husband. As Oko tries to lure Tenma near her, Matahachi and Takezo kill him and multiple other bandits. As an act of revenge, the next day, the remaining bandits show up again. Takezo kills the rest of the bandits including Tenma Tsujikaze while Matahachi and Oko were having sex in the forest. After the death of Tenma, Akemi, Matahachi and Oko left for Kyoto in order to not be killed by his brother.

First Yoshioka School arc

It was revealed through Oko that after they abandon Musashi, Matahachi married Oko and along with Akemi, they moved to Kyoto. Oko forced Matahachi to send a letter to Otsu ending his relationship with Otsu.

According to Oko, she was fed up with Matahachi's low income so she opened a brothel working as a prostitute. Matahachi ended up as a pitiful alcoholic with Oko bringing in most of the money for the couple.

As Matahachi returns back to the whore house, he revealed to Oko and Akemi that Musashi was still alive and he challenged the Yoshioka School. Matahachi gets upset at Oko for disrespecting him and having sex with clients. Oko kicks Matahachi out and told him to never come back.

While walking through Tokyo, Matahachi sees Musashi at the Yoshioka School. Musashi visits the Yoshioka School to challenge the head. Matahachi attempts to 'save' Musashi and attempts to burn the school down. Matahachi ends up getting a bounty put on his head for burning the school and for drinking their expensive sake.

Hozoin Arc

Matahachi left Kyoto and ended up working in the construction site of the Fushimi Castle. While he was resting on a break, he encountered Tenki who saw Matahachi's pale face and gave him medicine. In return, he asked Matahachi to look out for government soldiers if they're coming. A soldier found out that he was drawing a map and they thought Tenki was a spy. Tenki ended up half-dead as he took down 5 soldiers, Matahachi was ordered to watch over him until the soldier returns. Dying, Tenki with his last breath begged Matahachi to deliver Sasaki Kojiro's certificate of the chujo-ryu sword style.

Matahachi takes a pouch from the corpse and abandons the castle. The pouch has money and a swordsman certificate awarded to a Sasaki Kojiro who mastered the chujo-ryu style. He guesses that Tenki's name is Kojiro and decides to go on a journey to deliver his belonging to his parents. As he journeys, instead of for looking for Kanemaki Jisai (Kojiro's adoptive father and teacher); he decides to look for Toda Seigan (assumed teacher of Kojiro) in Osaka but it turned out fruitless. He was told that it was better looking for Ito Ittosai (also an assumed teacher of Kojiro), Matahachi gave up as Ittosai hasn't been seen for some time. Matahachi stayed in Osaka with the intention to be hired by the government as a samurai (under Kojiro's alias), while drinking he attracted a ronin called Akakabe Yasoma. Matahachi lies saying he is Kojirō Sasaki, and is scammed into handing over his money with the promise of a recommendation at a local lord. Ashamed, Matahachi finds the scammer and kills him. A local inn hires him as a protector, and he becomes famous for standing up to the scammers. However, one day a seasoned samurai, Shōjirō Kai, challenges him. Matahachi escapes, but bumps into his mother Osugi and uncle Gon. In the family reunion, they catch up on their stories. Osugi confesses to Matahachi that they travel to take revenge on Musashi and Otsū, who according to her, ran away together and are now a couple. This brings dismay to Matahachi, who was originally bethroted to Otsū and still wants her. Matahachi lies again, showing them the certificate while saying he is now a renowned swordsman that goes by the name of Kojirō Sasaki.

Baiken Arc

Matahachi is cornered by his uncle Gon, who starts suspecting his fame as renowned swordsman Kojirō Sasaki is a fraud, as he never practices with a sword and is the same careless bum as before, though Matahachi's mother Osugi protests against Gon's inquiries. Pressured, Matahachi runs away. Osugi orders Gon to bring him back. After running for a while in a mountain trail, Matahachi sees a little girl hunting a pigeon with a chain and sickle (who we later find out is Rindo). The girl vanishes. Unfortunately for Matahachi, Shōjirō Kai appears with a minion of his, Torajirō. They are looking for Baiken Shishido, the master of the chain and sickle who lives in the deepest of the mountain. Shōjirō still wants to challenge Matahachi, but after tricking him, he uncovers his fraud. Shōjirō and Torajirō attack Matahachi. Right then, Gon arrives and starts fighting Torajirō, Matahachi escapes with Shōjirō chasing him. Torajirō kills Gon, but gets seriously wounded, and is mercy killed by an imposing warrior that appears: Baiken Shishido. Meanwhile, Osugi follows Gon's trail. When she's by a river, she has a heart attack and falls into the water. She is rescued by Otsū and Jōtarō.

Later, after coming into contact with the genuine Kojiro, begins to identify himself as Sasaki Koujiro, an interpreter for Kojiro, as the real Kojiro was deaf and had difficulty communicating with others.

Matahachi later becomes estranged from Musashi after a tense reunion, displaying an intense jealousy towards his former friend.

Abilities

Gallery

Trivia

  • Matahachi's character is based on one of the same names in Eiji Yoshikawa's novel, on which Vagabond is based. Matahachi plays largely the same role and has many of the same problems, but there are significant differences. In the novel, he doesn't interfere in Musashi's fights nor did the two of them get into a fight. In fact, the two remained good friends in the novel and encourages each other. At one point, they even travel together a second time following a Buddhist priest. Eventually, Matachi requests that Musashi marries Otsu and, later, he goes to Kokura with his wife and child in order to pray for Musashi's victory over Kojiro.
  • In the novel, Matahachi eventually repents for his ways and starts a family. Surprisingly, his wife is not Oko, but her daughter, Akemi. The two gets into and out of relationships several times, but their relationship seems to solidify when Matahachi encounters Akemi after his repentance and finds her taking care of a child he believes is his.
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