Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Osamu Tezuka and Manga ...

Manga is the form comics have evolved into throughout Asia, beginning in Japan. In Asia Manga is read so widely, by people of all ages and classes, that the Al Harris Library has purchased two Manga series to complement our growing collection of American graphic novels.

Both the Asian and American styles of graphic novels provide patrons with access to an art form that is important to the current generation of students, is significant to popular culture, and is garnering increasing interest in academic circles.

The two series, Buddha (8 volumes) and Phoenix (12 volumes), both written and drawn by Osamu Tezuka, are recognized as high achievements for the genre of Manga and the work of the man Osama Tezuka. Buddha is a multilayered story with beautiful graphics that dramatically show the cultural strains in ancient East Indian culture that led to the enlightenment of the Buddha, resulting in the Buddhist religion. Tezuka believed Phoenix was his greatest lifetime achievement. The series present stories of strife of various characters seeking immortality. These stories range in time from pre-history to the far future of 3,500 A.D.

An explanation of the significance of Manga and of Osamu Tezuka follows, from the “History of Manga” Web Pages from nmp-International:

“Contemporary manga traces its origins to a single genius -- that of Osamu Tezuka. In 1947 Tezuka took Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island as the inspiration for a manga version entitled New Treasure Island published in book form. Despite the miserable economic conditions of the immediate postwar (WWII) and the decimation of the publishing industry, this work became an immediate bestseller, selling 400,000 copies. At the time Tezuka was a nineteen-year-old medical student. New Treasure Island contained the germs of a new syntax for manga and had an enormous impact on a new generation of manga artists. Tezuka himself continued to produce manga until his death in 1989, authoring such popular works as Astro Boy.

“The decade following the war (WWII) saw the emergence of a great number of manga artists in addition to Tezuka, bringing about a veritable manga boom. Nonetheless, manga were still identified as a genre for children. But those who grew up reading manga were not able to kick the habit after reaching adulthood. This was the postwar generation, the manga generation. In their estimation of manga, the members of this generation came to experience a virtually irreparable rift with their elders. ...

“Around 1980 manga techniques began to show an even greater degree of refinement, and manga magazines acquired the breadth and diversity they still maintain today. Today's manga have emerged as a virtually omnipotent visual media, encompassing forms of entertainment from joke-books to melodrama to sci-fi, literary works from novels to travelogues, and manuals for educational and didactic purposes. As such, they have come to be enjoyed by people in all walks of life.”

For more about Osamu Tezuka and Manga see the display at the entrance to the Al Harris Library.

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