Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Tezuka - Phoenix

I wrote about Late Tezuka. Phoenix is not late Tezuka as he had been working on this since 1954. Never had the chance to read this and the only excerpts I read was in Frederik Schodt's Manga! Mnaga! The World of Japanese Comics. Viz brought out the whole series in English some years ago and I finally got to read some of the volumes.

I'm impressed. The early volumes were so so. But Vol 5 Resurrection struck a chord because it was Astro Boy in reverse. A young man who met an accident had an operation that save his life, which made him more machine than man. He requested the doctor to turn him completely into a robot because he had felt in love with one. If Astro Boy is Tezuka's take on Pinocchio, of a toy who wants to be a boy, then in Resurrection, we have a man who wants to be a machine because he is too much of a man for his iron maiden.

Robita in this story (who also appeared in Vol 2 Future) reminds me of another robot in an untranslated Tatsumi story.

Phoenix is considered Tezuka's best (and incomplete) series, so I did not associate it with Late Tezuka. But all the elements are there in Vol 6 Nostalgia. Incest, cannibalism. To perpetuate the bloodline, the mother mate with her son and later her grandchildren. The names of the children - Cain, Abel, Seth, Lot... so Tezuka was taking ideas from the old book.

The formal experimentation is also there. In Vol 8 Civil War Part 2, the short story at the end, Robe of Feathers is shown from one fixed angle - we are seeing what is enacted on onstage just as what is being observed from the audience seats.

A good write-up on Phoenix.