Not only is Osamu Tezuka's 1976 graphic novel MW a remarkably different kind of story from the Japanese master of comics, but challenging his country's political infrastructure, the corruption behind election string-pulling, the government connections with rich and influential businessmen and the thorny question of US involvement in Japan, it's a daring and challenging work of great relevance.
More than that, Tezuka explores the human, or perhaps more accurately, the inhuman impulses that lie behind such actions. At the centre of the story is an unusual love affair between a priest, Father Garai, and a morally corrupt young man, Yuki. The two of them have in the past survived the accidental release of a deadly experimental virus called MW that wiped out the entire population of a small Japanese island. Only a child at the time, the experience and exposure to a smaller dose of the virus has however has deeply affected Yuki, the effeminate young man now a quite dangerous and ruthless kidnapper and murderer. His actions seem random, striking out at authority but also showing up in cruel behaviour towards Father Garai and anyone who comes into close contact with him, but they all have a connection to what happened 16 years ago on that small island.
As well as the interesting questions that Tezuka raises in regard to US wartime actions, their influence in Japan and their impact on the psychology of the individual (are the actions of Yuki any less harmful to society than what has been perpetrated by the respective governments?) - Tezuka's layouts and artwork techniques as always remain fascinating, the writer-artist's style still cartoony, but finding other appropriate means in the line work and the arrangements to express the dark elements that underlie the story.
on 5 February 2008
This is a great slice of Tezuka's storytelling brilliance. This was written in his later years, veering away from the more child-oriented early works of Astro Boy and Kimba. Though other works of his such as Buddha contain some graphic violence and ideas about human existance, this gives them a more modern context, incorporating the feelings of those living in post-war Japan. The story focuses on two survivors of a biological catastrophe, Yuki and Garai, which wiped out an entire island community and was subsequently covered up by the government. Yuki is a young man changed by the effects of the weapon, MW, turning him into a psychopath incapable of controlling or rationalizing his urges. The other, Garai, is a priest conflicted by his feelings for the beautiful, feminine Yuki and his duty to God. As Yuki schemes to obtain the MW for himself, Garai has to choose between his faith and stopping Yuki.
A great example of how graphic novels can be as powerful and poignant a medium as film or script.
on 31 March 2010
This is great. The plot is gripping and devious, if a bit unlikely sometimes (but hey, it's a comic!) But the real joy for me is the artwork. I can just open it and look at how Tezuka rendered the different foliage, or how he suggested a whole cityscape. And then there's the masterful way he visualises a scene, with a mixture of realism and manga-style exaggeration. From the opening, dialogue free pages, which remind you of Hitchcok's pure cinema approach, the book is a joy to look at. Definitely a master at work, at his most mature and capable.
on 26 March 2012
Possibly my favourite Tezuka yet, Possibly because of the sheer difference between this and all of his other works that I have read so far, or maybe that's just me. Quite frankly I've never read anything quite like it, nor do I expect to, although I still hope. Most readers will probably find the content of this book disturbing. Definitely not one of Tezuka's more popular works, I like it for being what it is, highly contentious even now, let alone seventies Japan. A must read for hardcore Tezuka fans.
on 12 June 2015
A great, yet massively disturbing read.
This is the most anti-tezuka manga I've ever read, despite still being written by the God himself.. I is a very unique read, and not for the faint of heart, with rape, abuse, killing of children and more than friendly relations with a dog.