More Modernized Tezuka, Please

After I discussed yesterday my dislike of his early science fiction works for the Osamu Tezuka Manga Moveable Feast, a discussion sprang up on Twitter as to which of Tezuka’s works I would like.

Tezuka in English pointed out that I’ve mostly read his “transitional works”. Books like Swallowing the Earth get translated because they’re historically important (in that case, one of his first attempts at manga for adults), but that doesn’t mean they read well, here in a different century. A lot more Tezuka is available in French, including more adventure work not aimed at kids, which might be a better introduction to the non-scholarly U.S. reader.

I’ve realized there is one credited Tezuka work I absolutely adore: Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka. OK, it’s not “authentic” Tezuka, I guess, but by presenting his ideas in a modern context (and thus avoiding the racist and sexist stereotypes which are a huge turn-off) with a more accomplished art style (and thus not causing cognitive conflict between big ideas expressed by cutesy-pie characters, most problematic in Buddha), it’s a lot easier to read and enjoy.

(If you’d like to learn more about Pluto, my first Manga Out Loud podcast was a two-parter where Ed and I talked about how much we enjoyed the series.)

I’d like to see more projects of this type, reworking Tezuka for a modern audience. Eliminate the problems and emphasize the strengths, as Darwyn Cooke did for Will Eisner’s Spirit.

6 Comments

  1. Jim Perreault

    Speaking of Tezuka, have you seen “Astroboy and the God of Comics” playing at Studio theatre in DC? It’s a play about the life of Tezuka. (Here’s a link to a review http://www.washingtonian.com/blogarticles/artsfun/afterhours/23002.html ).

    I thought it was an entertaining play, clever in some ways, but ultimately does not really cover the breadth and depth of his career. The only other work of his that is mentioned is “New Treasure Island”. The reenactment of its opening scene is one of the high points of the play, although I’m certain most of the audience, while quite amused by it, did not understand it.

    Instead, the play relies heavily on nostalgia. Still, it’s nice to see Tezuka get some literary attention.

    Jim

  2. Jim,

    I’m hoping to see it next weekend. I say the other Tezuka play that Power did years ago and liked that one.

  3. Jim Perreault

    Ed,

    I will look forward to your review.

  4. Jim Perreault

    So Ed, did you end up seeing it?

  5. Jim,

    I did. I enjoyed it. I’ve only been to like 5 plays in my life, so didn’t feel qualified to review it. My favorite part was the four people reminiscing about Tezuka, both his virtues and his flaws. I was very impressed with the timing and talents of the actors. I’d have to see it again to put it all together.

  6. Jim Perreault

    I enjoyed that scene, although I would have liked to have a bit more knowledge of Japanese culture to really put it in perspective.

    My favorite scene, as I noted above, was the adaptation of “New Treasure Island”, closely followed by the scene at the end where they sing the theme to “Mighty Atom” while Tezuka is born. I found that very moving.

    Thanks for getting back to me.

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