View Full Version : To Hell With Everything, Let's Have an Osamu Tezuka Thread

07-22-2012, 12:03 PM
More threads! Because I can only post sporadically in the manga thread for so long!!

So some of you may not be familiar with Osamu Tezuka. Tezuka was a Japanese artist and illustrator best known in the west as the creator of the franchises known here as Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion. In his native land, however, Tezuka was known for being some sort of insane comics-production mechanism.

fig. 1: Tezuka in his trademark beret. You can't see his hands because he's probably still drawing comics while posing for the shot.

Though he was always an avid artist, Tezuka originally studied medicine, but gave it up immediately after obtaining his medical license in favour of making comics, as he couldn't stand the sight of blood. Right out of the gate Tezuka was daring and experimental, using techniques more akin to filmmaking than comic-making with early hits like New Treasure Island and Lost World. Tezuka is often accredited with inventing the idea of comics for girls with his 1954 series Princess Knight and revolutionizing comics for adults with his later entries, such as MW or Ode to Kirihito. Exaggeration though these statements may be, Tezuka has arguably had the largest impact on the way comics are made since the medium's origin, directly influencing such figures as Scott McCloud, Stanley Kubrick, and Walt Disney* and indirectly creating the standard to which all manga that followed strove to either emulate or oppose. The sheer work ethic of the man was admirable, averaging four full finished pages of material for every day of his life, right up until his death in 1989.

fig. 2: Tezuka, shown here with a fraction of his published work

Only now is Tezuka being published in English to any significant extent. Until a scant few years ago his presence in the west had been limited to a few out-of-print single-volume works, the dwindling legacy of the Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion anime adaptations, and a surprisingly comprehensive collection of Astro Boy manga published by Dark Horse. But now we're starting to see publishers like DMP and Vertical Inc open up the massive vault of his work and introduce Tezuka's work to a whole new culture for the first time ever, in the form of slickly-designed collections.

ITT: We talk about Tezuka.

fig. 3: the internet knows the fucking score

So I picked up the remaining volumes of Black Jack this weekend. This should hopefully last me until Barbara and Adolf come out at the end of summer, but I wouldn't count on it. Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't Vertical say that they were planning something special with volume 17? Like another hardcover edition or what have you? Because I seem to remember that being announced but never bearing fruit. Also, the Unico Kickstarter (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/digitalmanga/publish-osamu-tezukas-unico-in-english-in-full-col) officially ended just a little while ago, but not before managing to make just enough to publish both AtomCat and Triton of the Sea. Woooo!

*I refer of course to Tezuka's personal relationship with Disney and how the two men loved each other's work, such as Tezuka's wish to draw a Bambi manga and Disney's desire to create a character like Astro Boy. Anyone who tries to start the Lion King argument will be shot.

07-22-2012, 12:24 PM
And once again, teg demonstrates why she really is the best teg.


I collected the Astro Boy series from Dark Horse. As a fan of logical continuity, it made for a challenging read until I just let go and enjoyed the ride. The most interesting volume for me was the final one. It was a compilation of one offs that didn't really fit in the main storyline, such as What if Astro Boy had been fully functional? Man, was that a eye opener.

07-22-2012, 06:36 PM
Man, the great thing about buying six volumes of Black Jack all at once is that I can postpone that "now I have nothing to do but wait for the next Tezuka book" feeling for as long as possible.

07-22-2012, 06:44 PM
I got half of Buddah then ran out of money and now I can't get the other half because they don't sell the amazing hard cover versions anymore and then what would even be the point? What would even be the point?

07-23-2012, 12:48 AM
NINE HUNDRED DOLLARS for volume six!?

07-23-2012, 03:06 AM
Two things in particular I love about Osamu Tezuka:

His comics work is like a window into a parallel universe where the black and white cartoons of the 1930s became a vast, thriving art form with limitless scope and ambition.

Second, Tezuka's comics pages are the best in the business. If you get stuck halfway down one of his pages, it's because your mind's been blown by his ability to manipulate space and time with a stroke of a pen.

07-23-2012, 05:24 AM
I got half of Buddah then ran out of money and now I can't get the other half because they don't sell the amazing hard cover versions anymore and then what would even be the point? What would even be the point?

I only have the paperbacks, but they're quite nice. I know what you mean though. I hate having a mix of hardcovers and paperbacks for a single series.

...In fact Loki, I will buy your hardcover copies off of you if you ever feel like getting the series in paperback. For serious. The completionist part of me that bought the hardcover and paperback Black Jacks has been wanting to get the hardcover Buddha set for ages.

07-23-2012, 06:13 AM
My Tezuka experience is limited mostly to Astro Boy and Black Jack. I seek to remedy this problem soon.

07-23-2012, 06:43 AM
I would say "You need to read Phoenix next!" except it appears to be out of print...

So what's the deal with Kimba? Seems like that would have been a logical thing to do after AstroBoy. Vertical seems to have gone straight to the grownup-audience Tezuka material. I guess it's not worth the license cost or Dark Horse would have published it also.

07-23-2012, 07:16 AM
So what's the deal with Kimba? Seems like that would have been a logical thing to do after AstroBoy. Vertical seems to have gone straight to the grownup-audience Tezuka material. I guess it's not worth the license cost or Dark Horse would have published it also.If I remember correctly, publishers really don't want to approach Kimba because of its portrayal of African people. Tezuka was very strongly anti-racism; but, well... he did learn how to draw people by watching old black and white cartoons. They got better later in his career but his earliest portrayals of black people were pretty much racist caricatures. Every volume of Astro Boy had a disclaimer on the first page because of only a handful of black characters, so presumably Dark Horse didn't want to touch Kimba with a ten foot pole.

07-23-2012, 07:19 AM


Teg did you know that the Lion King is a total rip-off of Kimba in every way and Di$ney are a bunch of thieves and they stole everything especially Kimba (SIMba see see) The White Lion!!!

Little Sampson
07-23-2012, 06:37 PM
So as someone who's never read any Tezuka, where should I start?

Preferably something self contained or that comes in not-a-ton of volumes.

07-23-2012, 06:42 PM

Watch Metropolis or play Astroboy GBA?

Little Sampson
07-23-2012, 06:43 PM
Book-wise, though.

I have actually done those things though.

07-23-2012, 07:12 PM
Actually I should make a note about Metropolis. Any time you finish a Tezuka series, re-watch Metropolis. I pick up on some new obscure joke every single time I see it.

Anyway, Little Sampson: If you're looking for short and relatively easy to find then your best bets are:

MW - psychosexual thriller, one volume
Ode To Kirihito - medical drama with emphasis on drama, two volumes or an omnibus edition
Apollos' Song - surreal romantic tragedy, two volumes or an omnibus edition
Dororo - action adventure, three volumes or an omnibus
Princess Knight - swashbuckling romance, two volumes
Ayako - postwar personal drama about family, one volume
The Book of Human Insects - psychological crime thriller, one volume
Swallowing the Earth - overtly sexual story of mystery and revenge

Out of all of those I would personally most recommend Princess Knight or Dororo, followed by Ode to Kirihito or Apollo's Song if you're looking for something more serious.

However! If you want to get the best picture of Tezuka in top form, I would go for Black Jack volume 1. The softcovers of Black Jack are in no danger of going out of print for the forseeable future, and you can pretty much pick up and read any volume of Black Jack in any order (and in fact the volumes are published in the order Tezuka liked best, not the order they were published in), but you should start with #1 just because it focuses almost entirely on Black Jack himself without having to know any other characters. And this way if you like it, there's sixteen more volumes where that came from.

I'd also recommend Phoenix volumes 1 (Dawn), 2 (Future), 3 (Yamato/Space), 5 (Resurrection), 6 (Nostalgia), or 9 (Strage Beings/Life). Phoenix is becoming hard to come by, if I recall correctly (I think it's out of print now), but most volumes are one or two self-contained stories -with the exception of 7 & 8 (Civil War) and 10 & 11 (Sun). 5 (Resurrection) is my personal favourite volume, but most people like 2 (Future) the best. Volume 12 is really just bonus material so don't worry too much about finding that one.



Teg did you know that the Lion King is a total rip-off of Kimba in every way and Di$ney are a bunch of thieves and they stole everything especially Kimba (SIMba see see) The White Lion!!!http://i.imgur.com/jXhID.jpg

Little Sampson
07-23-2012, 07:39 PM
That's much more in-depth than I was expecting, thanks!

I have some Amazon credit, so I'm picking up Dororo (which is the one I was eyeing before I decided to ask, so I'm glad it comes recommended), Princess Knight, and Black Jack Vol. 1.

07-24-2012, 01:00 AM
Phoenix: Tale of the Future would be my recommendation.

07-24-2012, 10:20 AM


Teg did you know that the Lion King is a total rip-off of Kimba in every way and Di$ney are a bunch of thieves and they stole everything especially Kimba (SIMba see see) The White Lion!!!

This is CNN.

07-26-2012, 06:37 PM
So the final volume of Black Jack basically ends in the best way possible, with the last two chapters being some of the best. But now I'm legitimately sad that there's no more Black Jack, and never will be. I actually sat there staring at the appendix for a few moments until it registered.

...I must make it my life's duty to recover the nine chapters that Tezuka vowed never to reprint.

(...there are actually twelve such chapters, but three such chapters are reprinted in the hardcover English Black Jack volumes)

08-04-2012, 11:31 PM
Neat article (http://www.tcj.com/tezuka-osamu-and-american-comics/) about Disney comics' influences on early Tezuka including sample strips containing, among many things, Tezuka's interpretations of Mickey and Donald.

08-06-2012, 09:31 AM
That's pretty cool, tungwene, thanks for sharing.

08-06-2012, 08:21 PM
I can't read the Japanese but the 'how to use' stick figure cracks me up

08-07-2012, 08:06 PM

SOON (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/digitalmanga/publish-osamu-tezukas-barbara-in-english/posts/283401?ref=email&show_token=54764d395aa4c880)

08-08-2012, 04:35 AM

I didn't expect the book to be so huge.

09-07-2012, 07:57 PM
Quick reminder to everyone that after a bit of a drought apparently Tezuka translation is back in full force! Message To Adolf Part 1 just came in at my comic shop today, so I picked up my preordered copy, and apparently Barbara just came out a few days ago, so you can all get right on that.

09-12-2012, 09:17 AM
I've read most of Black Jack and am looking to start Ode to Kirihito next. Is it any good?

09-13-2012, 08:43 PM
I remember liking it a lot. I think Kirihito was my first Tezuka after Buddha. It's a very different tone from Black Jack though. Kirihito is very somber with fairly sexual and religious overtones IIRC.

09-28-2012, 08:19 AM
Got my copy of Barbara today. Expect impressions later.

Also, I finished reading the first volume of Message to Adolf a few weeks ago and somehow forgot to mention it here. I wasn't sold on it at first (I'm not big on historical pieces, and I prefer Tezuka's more outlandish works to his more grounded ones), but it seriously may be my secret favourite Tezuka book now, even if one character's story is arguably much more interesting than the other two major plotlines.

Also: Message to Adolf is a perfect example of the Star System being used to great effect. There's a point early in the story where a character's last name is stated. There's not much attention drawn to it, but anyone who's been reading Tezuka long enough will recognize that their surname matches that of a recurring character in the Star System. As soon as I saw it, an alarm went off in my head and I realized that this character was related to one of the antagonists. I never would have caught it if it had been my first Tezuka book. Fantastic.

09-29-2012, 09:01 AM
Barbara is pretty weird. It's full of stuff that seems unique to itself and separate from other Tezuka works, like having a first-person narrator and almost solely using highly expressive, unrealistic backgrounds. The symbolism is a little heavy-handed and clumsy at times; particularly everything about the character of Mnemosyne, who is jarringly out of place compared to the rest of the characters in both the bluntness of her symbolism and in terms of her "fertility goddess idol" character design. I think that spending more time inside the protagonist's head than normal and not shifting views made this less messy to read than other early gekiga experiments from Tezuka like MW. It's a pretty interesting experiment throughout, honestly. It's not my favourite Tezuka and I'm not sure how much hesitation I would give before recommending it, but I'm glad that I had a chance to read it.

An aside about Barbara that has nothing to do with the actual book: I can't help but notice that DMP has vastly increased the print quality compared to their release of 2009's Swallowing the Earth. Barbara is about half as thick and significantly heavier despite containing almost as many pages, each of which is much smoother and feels more solid than the newsprint-quality paper used in Swallowing the Earth (the same type used in most single volumes of manga). The overall effect is that it feels much less cheap and prone to damage than Swallowing the Earth did. I know I'm probably the only person who cares about this, but clearly someone put a lot of effort into improving the printing process and I thought they deserved some recognition.

However, the book does reek of paint thinner. Not sure why. It actually kind of adds to the experience since Barbara is supposed to be constantly drunk.

10-03-2012, 12:21 AM
http://i.imgur.com/32ccy.jpg (http://www.ambarb.com/?p=711)

01-11-2013, 03:53 AM
Thanks to Diamond, you can now buy overpriced Tezuka crap (http://tezukainenglish.com/bm/news/tezuka-productions-names-diamond-preferred-partner.shtml)!

Teg is intrigued.

01-11-2013, 10:31 AM
Holy christ, an Astro Boy tin toy for a thousand dollars.

Okay then.

(Now, a Dr. Ochanomizu plush for $30 is almost tempting...)

That Old Chestnut
01-12-2013, 10:25 AM
I am so very glad that this thread is a thing, even if the only exposure to any Tezuka works I've ever had is the animated stuff. I can still remember when the Disney Channel used to play stuff like the Unico movies (which I didn't really appreciate at the time because I was a dumb stupid kid, but would very much love to see again sometime), and I loved the 2002 Metropolis film, mostly because Shunsaku Ban is my absolute favorite Star System character.

I also wished I could go back in time and smack my fool self for trading off my 2003 Astro Boy DVDs.

(Now, a Dr. Ochanomizu plush for $30 is almost tempting...)


01-12-2013, 03:04 PM
I can still remember when the Disney Channel used to play stuff like the Unico movies (which I didn't really appreciate at the time because I was a dumb stupid kid, but would very much love to see again sometime),Lucky for you they're not hard to (http://www.discotekmedia.com/unico_fa.htm) acquire (http://www.discotekmedia.com/unico_iom.htm).

DMP has the Unico/Atomcat T-shirt designs now. They look pretty cute though I wish they had a large enough version of the Atomcat shirt I could read what the text says. And I'm still working through Barbara :x

That Old Chestnut
01-12-2013, 04:22 PM
Lucky for you they're not hard to (http://www.discotekmedia.com/unico_fa.htm) acquire (http://www.discotekmedia.com/unico_iom.htm).


01-12-2013, 05:04 PM

I like to imagine that I live in an alternate version of The Pagemaster, and this is Mein Kampf.

01-22-2013, 06:41 PM
More Tezuka in English! The Mysterious Underground Men (http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2013-01-22/picturebox-adds-osamu-tezuka-the-mysterious-underground-men-manga). Really early Tezuka.

02-15-2013, 08:57 AM
So I finally finished reading Barbara. (Thanks again, Ninja Santa!)

That was certainly something. A somewhat episodic, slightly surreal drama basically exploring a bunch of metaphors for the artistic process... and then it gets weirder. Not a light read, but I enjoyed it. Also seeing a lot of influence on Urasawa here (I mean moreso than just when he's re-writing actual Tezuka).

02-15-2013, 09:37 AM
More Tezuka in English! The Mysterious Underground Men (http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2013-01-22/picturebox-adds-osamu-tezuka-the-mysterious-underground-men-manga). Really early Tezuka.

I really love early Tezuka. It reminds me of the old newspaper comics.

02-18-2013, 07:13 PM
I've been reading Princess Knight at my local library and have been really taken with it. What amazes me is how completely different the storytelling is from anything else (I've seen) of what Tezuka has done, capturing beautifully the spirit and internal logic of fairy tales. I've also found that the compositions in this one may be among his best, while also some of his most spirited and cartoony. Not hard to believe that this is the book that spawned an entire genre of comics.

02-18-2013, 11:46 PM
So I'm interested in Dororo, but isn't it unfinished? When I was reading up about the PS2 game based on it, that was the impression I got.

Speaking of that PS2 game, for anyone who's curious, it's titled Blood Will Tell, and it's pretty decent. Not going to give any of the really five-star action titles a run for their money, but it's fun. It also has the character designs re-imagined by Hiroaki Samura, of all people. It's like they were trying to get as far from Tezuka's style as it was possible to go.

02-19-2013, 06:43 AM
Dororo is unfinished, totally worth reading.

The PS2 game is pretty decent, great character design and tells the story faithfully while still appealing to a modern audience. Just a biiit too much backtracking for my tastes (although I gave up on it pretty early in).

02-21-2013, 08:40 AM


03-05-2013, 08:04 PM
So I guess Black Jack is going to be going out of print soon. If you don't want a repeat of the Phoenix scenario where the books cost hundreds of dollars each, now is the time to buy them.

03-06-2013, 03:18 PM
RightStuf is already missing some volumes! Unless vols 8 & 15 show up again, but they're not even in the search. I ordered the ones I didn't have but they're all "more arriving soon".

03-25-2013, 07:06 PM
And thanks to the heads up from teg, I now own all the Black Jacks!

I only had the first three volumes to start, so I immediately ordered the ones that Right Stuf would let me (all "More Arriving Soon", none in stock). That left two to track down, then Right Stuf canceled one of the volumes in my order. I got two at MegaCon (in a buy-2-get-1 deal that made one of the out-of-print volumes free with my Blade of the Immortal vol 26 purchase). Then RightStuf shipped my books and I saw they had cancelled two of the volumes, not just the one they emailed me about! I got these last two from Amazon at a low 1.5X to 2X markup, which isn't so bad considering I also got the one for free.

The box from RightStuf finally came in today along with my second Amazon order and they're all stacked on my dresser now.

04-07-2013, 09:00 PM
Dang, man, Unico is some depressing stuff for a kid's comic.

Joe McGuffin
04-08-2013, 12:26 PM
Dang, man, Unico is some depressing stuff for a kid's comic.

I was not expecting Unico to use unicorn magic to age-up a little Indian boy so he could rush right into a bloody battle.

Son of Sinistar
06-16-2013, 05:41 PM
There's a kickstarter to translate Ozuma Tezuka's The Crater in English (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/kansaiclub/limited-edition-translation-of-osamu-tezukas-the-c) that ends Friday. It is a limited edition run, and it doesn't look like it will be published after this kickstarter unlike the way Digital Manga handled Barbara. The creaters messed up on calculating shipping for reward levels so be sure to read the page about the shipping updates for pledge levels.

03-14-2015, 11:35 AM
Astro Boy film in the works for makers of The Lego Movie (http://www.theguardian.com/film/2015/feb/05/astro-boy-film-in-the-works-for-makers-of-the-lego-movie)

The Australian animation studio Animal Logic is set to make a live-action superhero film, based on the popular manga character Astro Boy. The makers of past animated hits The Lego Movie and Happy Feet, have signed a deal with Japan’s Tezuka Productions.

Chief executive Zareh Nalbandian said the plan was to create a “Marvel-style” franchise that would be “at the very convergence of live-action, animation and visual effects”, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

There isn't a single thing in that article I don't like.

03-14-2015, 09:04 PM
I hope they can pull off the gee whiz look of Astro's world.

03-16-2015, 09:33 PM
Took a quick look at what Animal Logic has done before (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_Logic), and especially with stuff like The Lego Movie and The Owls of Ga'Hoole -- yeah, I'd say this studio could work well with the franchise.

Granted, most of my experience with the series was pretty much the Astro Boy GBA game, plus a few black & white episodes. But yeah, I remember the GBA game had whimsy mixed in with some pretty dark & deep moments. Y'all know about the series better, though.