Swallowing the Earth turned out to be the most difficult Tezuka book to lay my hands upon. First, I was waiting for it in Amazon, not falling for pre-order option. Then the book, produced not by Vertical, the usual Tezuka publisher in the US, but rather by DMP, a comic book company I never heard about, went out of stock in a matter of a few days, as quite few copies were published. All you could buy was a lousy used copy at least 5x the cover price. Hm, not for me.
A couple of years later Amazon advertised a kickstarter project by DMP, who were raising money to put out a new edition out – and, not unexpectedly, I subscribed to this funding initiative to get my new copy. Never tried kickstarter before – and, frankly, the idea is nice but I am sure at least half the projects are dead in water after funding. Oddly enough, the guys didn’t lie, and in half a year or so, the book finally came, along with half a dozen of lower quality manga I got hold of as well thanks to my (was it?) $60 funding.
Now, the book is Tezuka’s first serialized graphic novel, written and drawn in 1968, before Ode to Kirihito, MW, Adolf and the rest of his perennial classics. A strange story of women’s revenge against civilization – focused on destruction of money, law and love – and not too much of a happy ending. To my mind, the book lacks clear storyline – it goes away from the main character and back far too easy. Lotsa dead bodies, as usual – sex and violence reign. All in all, too bold and not too well baked for my taste – you can see the master’s touch, but it ain’t a mona-friggin-lisa story-wise. Oh well.
P.S. I realized I missed DMP’s second project for Tezuka’s Barbara. Dang.
The Insects book, newly translated into English, despite its promising name, is okay but not more. Yes, like most Tezuka’s adult novels, it has abundant violence, sex, murders – this one, even a hostile takeover shareholder meeting (vow, this is 16 years before Gekko!) – and most people are not nice at all – yet it lacks strong and gripping storyline Tezuka’s most prominent books like Adolf, Kirihito or Ayako can surely boast. I guess, sometimes, when you serialize a novel, like Jap manga usually goes out, it can hurt your story.
Written in the 70s, it is a tale of a sick and wicked girl – but other than that, little to add. I wonder whether Swallowing the Earth I backed on kickstarter.com will be of similar disappointment, ’cause for my $75-worth, I will get 10 non-Tezuka books on top of it.
By the time I moved into Buddha volume 3 territory, I already got quite used to the story – it seemed just like watching, I dunno, the Walking Dead, Friends or, as some strange people do, House M.D. on the telly. A chewing gum of sorts, of mixed Hindu and Japanese flavors.
The book is divided into two, really – a half is devoted to Siddhartha’s travel to Magadha kingdom, whose king for the first time calls the young monk “Buddha” – and the second half is devoted to Devadatta, an child exiled by people and raised by the wolves – not that much of that story gets confirmed by wiki, but still, this Rudyard Kipling bit is quite amusing.
Oh well, it was for me.
I keep on slowly reading the Buddha books, however, I more and more realize I definitely like it his less than Tezuka’s ultra gripping Adolf series, or MW (gas attacks do remind of Aum Shinrikyo – published 10 year ahead of the attacks) or my favorite Ode to Kirihito.
Why? Don’t really like this gag element Tezuka adds to drawings and text sometimes, in an attempt to appeal to younger audience – I would prefer Buddha’s life story to develop with all possible seriousness.
Overall – more dead rabbits and dead people, brutality to lower classes (the rising 99% movement, huh?) and finally – Siddhartha becomes a monk. Oh well.
Embarked on a long journey – Osamu Tezuka’s Buddha series is 8 volumes long – over 3000 pages in total – and thicker than Nakazawa’s 10-book-long Barefoot Gen, so I will break my record.
Three main events in this book – suicide bunny, Siddhartha is born, Chapra dies. Oh well.
Btw, one guy made a video for the bunny sacrifice piece. Hm.
PS: Praise for Buddha in Time mag.