An extra special treat for Tezuka Month – when I was in Thailand in January I was lucky enough to stumble across this edition of art and design mag A Day with a huge section dedicated to Astro Boy. Presumably timed to coincide with the release of the recent movie over there – nothing that special in itself, until you start to flick through it and realise that it’s clearly a publication that prides itself in it’s imagery, design and layouts.
This is the first in a few posts making up my – slightly last minute – contribution to Tezuka Month, that was kicked off by Evan Minto and the guys over at Anigamers. Starting with this look at Vertical’s recent paperback reissue of MW, I’ll be posting a few different things up over the next few days.
Ironically, the titular anti-hero takes a bit of a back seat in my favourite Black Jack story to date. Instead it is left to a company president and a construction worker to make the hard moral decisions in High and Low, taken from the first of these three latest Black Jack collections. Set during a recession, and highlighting the disparity in status – but also the common human bond – between corporate fatcats and the working class it can’t help but touch a nerve in today’s economic climate. A stunning example of Osamu Tezuka’s continued relevance, it’s tempting to call it a stand-out story, but in honesty that would be doing the other tales here a disservice.
Someone is killing robots. Not just any robots either; apparently someone is hunting down and killing the world’s most powerful and famous robots. And this is a problem for Inspector Gesicht of Europol, not just because he’s been put in charge of tracking down the killer, but because the list of victims so far suggests he might be a target himself.
Even if you’ve never read a single page of manga before, the chances are you’re familiar with Osamu Tezuka – and if the name isn’t familiar, then it’s likely that his most famous creation Astro Boy, is. Even though she’s never, to my knowledge, read a page of the manga herself, my girlfriend’s most prized purchases during last year’s Tokyo shopping exhibitions where the t-shirts featuring the iconic robo-Pinocchio she picked up in Harajuku. But Tezuka – often referred to as the ‘God of Manga’ and the ‘Father of Anime’ – had an impact beyond his cute character designs and children’s adventure stories, with even Astro Boy at times exploring the darker sides and moral ambiguities of human nature, and perhaps his strongest vehicle for this being the character Black Jack.