This will be a mixed bag of comments, some connected, some not. Don't worry if it seems to jump abruptly from one issue to another.
Benuser and DenverVeggieNut are spot-on, so I won't copy what they said.
Global knives were once the "It" knives. Now, they are just another brand to consider. Their steel is not quite as hard as the better VG-10 steel blades, and their handles turned off a lot of people (be sure to go and hold one yourself and try to cut something like carrots before you buy one. You want to feel how the handle feels - and try to imagine what holding one for a few hours would be like.).
Shun knives are made by Kai (one of Japan's largest cutlery makers) and come in a number of lines and grades. The main reason they are discussed (in my opinion) is that they are more easily found in the USA than almost any other Japanese knife brand - because they already had an existing distribution network (Kershaw Knives - owned by Kai) I have never bought one, so I can't give you a personal review, but you can look up and read plenty of past posted opinions of them on this forum. I personally prefer a knife without as much "belly" (or curve) as shown for the profile of the Shun Classic - I prefer a knife which has a flatter profile. Also, I think that I can get more "knife for the buck" with other Japanese knives.
I don't have any Miyabi knives, so I cannot tell you yea or nay about them. What I do know is generic - Miyabi knives are Japanese - but the company is owned by Henckels. For all practical purposes, they are pretty much like other Japanese better knife brands - and the Henckels connection is an irrelevancy in judging them. When judging them, the comparison is with other J-knives.
As for the etchings on the Masamoto VG, anything which is etched will not wash off (etching involves the removal of metal by chemical means). Only if the knife blade were thinned would the etchings be reduced or removed, though inked highlighting within etchings can be worn or dissolved away eventually. Personally, I prefer buying a knife as a culinary tool, not as a work of art. I don't have the money to spread around for a "work-of-art" knife which I either need to baby to avoid scratches, or permanently keep in the drawer and never use for fear of damage ("Drawer Queen"). But it's your choice and money, not mine.
The difference between stainless and carbon is that each has relative virtues and faults. For stainless, the principal virtue is ease of care. It doesn't require quite the level of immediate cleaning after use, especially around acidic and other reactive foods (though it does need to be cleaned soon enough after use and not just left around). Its principal drawback (in my humble opinion) is that, for the most part, most stainless knives are harder to sharpen, won't take as sharp an edge and dull faster. Carbon blades are the opposite: they will stain much faster and will rust quicker (though anything with iron, such as all steels, will rust given the right - or wrong - conditions), but they will generally take an edge much quicker and hold that edge longer (albeit with more frequent use of a good hone). That's a broad generalization - there are carbon blades that are not worth a (expletive deleted) and there are stainless knives which are easy to sharpen, stay sharp longer and are a joy to use.
You really need to have a triad approach - (1) primary knife or knives, (2) sharpening system; and (3) cutting board. Knives are discussed in the posts above, so I won't belabor that point.
A sharpening stone is a good starting point for discussing keeping a knife sharp, but you should also have a quality honing rod, which will significantly increase the amount of time between sharpening sessions. To make your future life simpler, just go for a 12 inch ceramic Idahone, at $30 from Chef Knives to Go. Getting a shorter one (10 inch) is just penny-wise, pound-foolish, since the price difference is minimal and the longer length will be useful for when you (inevitably) want "just a wee bit longer" blade.. Personally, I think that getting the hone before you get the sharpening stone will spread out your budget timetable.
As for a cutting board, getting and using a good one will reduce the wear on your knives' edges, big time. I have and use a Michigan Maple Block 15 inch square by 2 inch thick end grain hard maple board, which I bought from Overstock.com, via eBay (they are now about $56 to $57), which I treated with food-grade mineral oil from my local Safeway ($3.50 for 1 pint - and you will want to really saturate the board). I added a stainless steel scraper (to aid in cleaning the board) for about $5 from one of the discount housewares big box chain stores.
The honing rod and the board are really one-time purchases, good for decades of use. The knife recommendations will inevitably end up as a "Gee, I want one of those also!" obsession.
Edited by Galley Swiller - 1/10/14 at 11:02pm