The Osamu Tezuka Story – Toshio Ban

January 5, 2017 § 4 Comments

First published in the Japanese in 1992
Translated into the English by Frederik L. Schodt in 2016


Being a huge fan of manga, I’ve known for some time now that Osamu Tezuka is considered the “god” of manga, especially in the land of manga, Japan. Despite this, very little is known of the man outside of his own country. That doesn’t stop me from feeling somewhat ashamed that I don’t know more of his work, but then again, because I don’t know the Japanese language (yet!), I’m very dependent on work that has been translated into English. That it has taken so many years for this tome of a biography to be finally translated and published for the English-speaking world is yet another indication of how late we are in appreciating the master of manga.

Aptly written in the form of a manga biography, it starts from when Osamu Tezuka was a very young child, ending only at his death, when he was 60 years old. And his life was indeed full of manga, anime and film. Right from the start, it seems that Tezuka has never had any other dream—all he wanted to do was make manga and anime.

There were loads of mini nuggets of information and trivia within the pages that I found very interesting. At the same time, the zeal and tenacity at which Tezuka insisted on accomplishing his almost impossible goals has left a strange feeling in me. He never wasted any time, never gave up, never left the path that he believed so strongly that he was meant to be on. As I read the book, I found myself constantly reflecting on how I’ve been working on achieving my own goals, if I had even half the kind of devotion that he had.

As I reached the last quarter of the book, I started to realise that this volume was somewhat different from the kind of manga that I’ve gotten used to. Perhaps it was Ban’s intention to draw a manga that best reflected Tezuka’s style, which is, of course, quite “old-fashioned”. Perhaps, also, because it was originally drawn way back in the early 90s, which could explain how different it is from the manga of today. So in a way, I felt like this book was a little less organic in its style and presentation.

The story itself was also a little dry. All the little details were there, of course. How he went about rushing deadlines and how his country and the world was changing. But the whole book was more of a recollection of information, more than a telling of a story. There were countless points in the book where I had hoped I could get more information, or more elaboration, or even just a little more illumination, but Ban kept to the main frame of the story, which was a little disappointing to me.

Still, it’s a book much worth reading, especially for those who are manga fans, or even just fans of Japanese culture.

It’s a great book to start the year with. I’m hoping some of that passion will rub off on me.

§ 4 Responses to The Osamu Tezuka Story – Toshio Ban

  • michelle says:

    Glad you had a great start to the year, too!
    People who are single-minded in their focus and completely devoted to their ambitions often succeed in achieving greatness, but sometimes one can’t help but wonder, at what price? I guess it all really boils down to how much we are willing to allow our goals to cost us…
    By the way, what’s the difference between manga and graphic novels? :p

    • Michelle says:

      I guess you’re right about single-mindedness and the price we are willing to pay. As you said, at the end of the day, it depends on how much we really want something, and how much we are willing to give up for it. Still, I still wonder how much I’d be able to accomplish if I had more of that tenacity, you know?

      Anyway, about manga and graphic novels. Manga is essentially Japanese comics. Most manga are serialized in magazines in Japan and later collected into books/volumes, which, if popular enough, are then translated. The main difference between the two, of course, is that manga is strictly Japanese, so you wouldn’t call this book a graphic novel. But IF this book was originally written in English, with it’s panels reading from left to right as is usual for us in the English-speaking world, then this would constitute a graphic novel.

      I hope I haven’t made it too confusing for you? Haha. =p

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