Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Manga Review: Buddha by Osamu Tezuka

Osamu Tezuka has been known for his work on the likes of Tetsuwan Atom ("Astroboy") and Jungle Tantei ("Leo the Lion" and "Kimba the White Lion") but those aren't the only titles in his repertoire. Thankfully, Vertical was able to release Tezuka's epic, Buddha, both in hardcover and softcover.

Buddha, of course, is a rather liberal interpretation of the influential man's life. Tezuka, however, manages to make every moment interesting and while the first volume was over 400 pages, it never seemed enough. Of course while slapstick humor is injected in this interpretation of Buddha's life, Tezuka does not shy away from the tragedies or portrayal of the times (much of the women for example are naked). My only complaint is the attempt by some of the extras at witty banter, citing modern-day events, and I do not know if this is Tezuka's failing or that of the translator.

The series is eight volumes long and I've managed to read three out of the eight. So far, each one is as compelling as the book preceding it and features a cast that continues to grow with each volume. If I have any complaint, is the fact that the manga was reversed--that is the images were "flipped" to suit an American audience. Flipping comics, of course, is never a perfect solution and problems crop up occasionally. Buddha is no exception and there were times when the panels could be confusing (because of the flipped nature). I wish Vertical stuck to being faithful to the original format but you can't win every time.

The softcover is priced at $14.95 so that might be out of the budget of manga readers who patronize the likes of Naruto or Full Metal Alchemist. Still, it's a worthwhile read and perhaps this is where Tezuka's "classic-ness" comes into play as the story appeals to both young and adult sensibilities.

Rating: 4/5

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