Buddha 1, review: the life of Buddha as told by the God of Manga

Buddha 1, review: the life of Buddha as told by the God of Manga

Buddha 1, review

The God of Manga, Osamu Tezuka, has made a huge amount of titles that have provided a solid foundation for the Japanese comic and inspired many of the manga to come. Tezuka's works have ranged between the most varied narrative genres. In this case with Buddha we are faced with one of the most complex and ambitious works of the sensei.

J-Pop brings us to its Osamushi Collection series, Buddha in 7 volumes to allow everyone to recover one of the most important cornerstones of the genre born from the brilliant mind of Osamu Tezuka.

The life of Buddha told by the God of Manga

The story traces the life of Siddhartha Gautama starting from his conception up to the moment of his enlightenment. An at least ambitious intent that unfolds in dreamlike and metaphorical events, difficult to represent, alternating with bloody and conceptually disturbing scenes.

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The first volume focuses particularly on these two characters, mentioning only towards the end the birth of Buddha. From these first moments we perceive Tezuka's intent to create a real epic, a choral work, full of characters and events, which present themselves to us only to return several chapters later.

Not just a Biography of Gautama Buddha

Although the primary and obvious intent of the comic is to tell the story of Siddhartha's life; it is evident that Tezuka's real intent is to describe the change of a society in the making. Tezuka speaks to us and criticizes a social system, that of castes, with all its shadows and contradictions. The static nature of society also represents a static in spirituality, commodified and objectified by the priestly and dominant caste.

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The God of Manga succeeds through an ironic narrative but also shrewd and pungent and involve us in a way and in a mentality very different from ours. Many pages of the manga will be used in explaining the social situation that was raging in Nepal and India in those years. The immovable and immutable castes blocked and spoiled the population. But it is precisely from the last of the last, the Pariahs, that a movement of spiritual renewal will emerge.

The characters, even if they do not stand out for an excellent and sometimes even stereotyped characterization, do their job very well by carrying on the plot and more importantly, providing the reader with an insight into the society they live in. Their design, albeit simple, manages to be charismatic and characterizing enough to make each character, even the secondary ones, unique and memorable.

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The drawings fit perfectly into the Tezuka of the last period, a perfect synthesis between realism and cartoonish, which however shows the side on some graphic ingenuity that would be vintage to a modern reader not accustomed to the style of the teacher. Particularly virtuous and inspired are the splash pages that represent the key moments of the story. Tezuka has perfectly succeeded in his intent to represent and synthesize highly symbolic and metaphorical scenes on paper that few others would have been able to create.

However, he will often pass by extremely evocative tables made with great detail and painstaking pay attention to other very linear and classical ones with squared and not very suggestive vignettes. The action scenes are also particularly engaging, a captivating choreography which, even if minimal in some instances, does justice to a manga from the 70s.

Love and attention are perceived from the tables of the sensei for the flora and fauna, protagonists in the first instance of the narrated events. Wild animals, exotic flowers and carefully crafted mountain landscapes enrich the world of Buddha with liveliness and realism, immersing the reader in a tale of history, mythology and reality.

The Volume

J-Pop has released Buddha in a 15x21cm kanzenban format with dust jacket with flaps. The front of the volume presents the cover in gray scale while the dust jacket shows us the fantastic illustration of the moment of the birth of Buddha on a lotus flower. The cover price is € 14 which well reflects the characteristics of the product, settling in the average of its type.

The paper used is the dark brown paper with a high weight, we are not faced with a very valuable paper but certainly suitable to its purpose and allows for easy reading. From an editorial point of view, the volume presents a small insert on the author and a section of notes regarding the contextualization of some technical or religious terms present in the narrative. There are no color pages while both the translation and the adaptation are very smooth.

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