Kokou no Hito
On his first day of transferring to a new high school, a loner named Mori Buntarou, is cajoled by a classmate into climbing the school building. Despite knowing that one misstep could send him spiraling to his death, he moves forward, and upon finally reaching the top, Mori experiences a sense of fulfillment. That feeling, which seems to be telling him, "You're alive!" gives birth to an adrenaline for rock-climbing..
Why You Should Read This:
One of my favorite mangas to this day, pretty similar to Vagabond in the sense of concentrating mostly on the main character´s development and progress.
The main character, Mori, tries to find his place in the world and comes across mountain climbing which gives him a feeling of freedom but encounters several hindrances, mostly other people occupied with their own desires, which cause the MC´s development throughout the story. So it´s basically about the psychological analysis and character study of Mori.
What makes this stand out, at least for me, is that the mangaka does not pull any punches at all in depicting the harsh environment Mori converses in. Also, the story gives you an interesting perspective on a different lifestyle of solitude without condemning or approving said lifestyle while being ambigious whether Mori´s passion for mountain climbing is just an escape or a solution.
Most importantly though, Sakamoto Shinichi, the artist behind the manga, did not forget that manga is a primarily visual medium. Many contemporary mangaka forget this fact and characterize, depict and develop their characters through the dialogue which more than often ends up being lifeless and boring.
Shinichi on the other hand uses facial expressions, panel distribution and surrealistic imagery, which sometimes need some interpreting, to depict the inner turmoil and world of Mori.
The first few chapters (i think 2-3 volumes) are lighter in tone and a bit different regarding the art, mostly because Sakamoto was "only" a hired help at first, before taking the project over completely, so be patient at first if you try it.