Thursday, May 31, 2007

Buddha - Manga Review

Rating: A+

Synopsis: Following the lives of several different people from a variety of castes, the story intertwines historical lore in ancient India to tell the tale of Buddha's life. Though many of the tales involve severe violence and the crushing reality of the unfair caste system, the stories are told with child-like humor and the drawing style is lighthearted and cartoony.
The Buddha volumes were originally published 1974 - 1984, and were translated into English re-published in American 2003 - 2005.

It seems strange to review momentous books from Osamu Tezuka - the grandfather of manga. Just picking up one of the eight Buddha volumes seems to be an action laden with meaning, they are that freakin' epic. But the strange thing is how personable and light-hearted they are at the same time. Tezuka's ability to render 400 pages (per volume) of historical fiction a quick read is amazing. The little-boy humor is carefully balanced weighty situations (Chapra's mother is sold into slavery, Tatta's returns to his home to find it razed).

I did have a little trouble keeping some of the characters and situations straight, as the character grow up and change over time, but it's easy to know who they are based on their general character design and caste.

For any Hobotaku not already familiar with Tezuka's work, you'll find yourself reminded of early era Disney art style. Overall it's a great and refreshing re-telling Buddha's life story, and great for anyone learning about Buddhism.

If you're planning to read this, set aside some time to enjoy the story and awesome art. You will learn, and you will LOVE it.

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