Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Apollo's Song by Osamu Tezuka
Perhaps the greatest manga artist/writer of the 20th century is Osamu Tezuka and while most people might remember him for iconic works like Astro Boy or Kimba the White Lion, reading Apollo's Song reminds me how diverse Tezuka's repertoire really is. The artwork is truly astounding even for something as dated as this title. While it follows the simple, iconic approach, it also gives Tezuka's art style a distinct look that's unmistakable and despite the simplicity of his style, the manga really has lots of detail. But Apollo's Song really comes through in terms of story. In many ways, it follows a true Greek tragedy as a Japanese boy is sentenced to karmic punishment by Athena for his persecution of animals--and later we find out, the persecution of lovers. Tezuka uses this as an excuse to tell various stories taking place at different time periods and in several ways, the storytelling techniques and plots are ahead of its time (not to mention the sci-fi element). Personally, what I found interesting was how the work remains distinctively Japanese even as it draws upon various mythologies and real-world sources. The story might not necessarily appeal to modern mainstream readers but it definitely packs a whallop. At the very least, the title has one of the best opening scenes I've ever read, and the US publisher has done great the work in terms of production values.