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ODE TO KIRIHITO Paperback – 5 Apr 2007
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Top customer reviews
This is strong and powerful, unequivocal in its portrayal of corruption and degradation, and almost totally lacking the normal playfulness of a Tezuka narrative. Tezuka has always dealt with important themes even in entertainments such as Astroboy and most notably in his triumphant Buddha sequence, but never before has he portrayed them in such brutal starkness. There is murder, rape, slavery, brutality, shocking cruelty, racism and more. But this is also counterbalanced, though not tempered by, hope, love, a strong element of spirituality and faith, and, for some of its tormented characters, reconciliation and redemption.
The sheer power of this 800 page work immediately raises it to the front rank of graphic novels. One wonders what other marvellous works by the author are yet to be revealed to a western audience and to ponder on what has been lost by his tragically early death at 61 years, especially when one considers what Will Eisner produced in later life.
The publishers, Vertical, deserve credit for not only bringing this book to us but also for not splitting it into two volumes and allowing it to be read as intense work it was meant to be.
Do not miss this book.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
All the familiar Tezuka themes are here, including well worn ones from Astroboy and Kimba, but here they are used to devestating effect along-side an infinitely more sophisticated Tezuka who can show us the full range of human emotions. I recognize that Tezuka (like Miyazaki after him) wanted to show us characters who are human, neither good nor bad, and it couldn't be done better here. The subtitle 'are you a beast?' could be applied to every character as we see them go through their transformations, even to society itself.
The biblical quotes and christian imagery are used masterfully, not as a religious instrument, but as a powerful illustrative device for the emotions and struggles of our heroes. Tezuka as usual finds the commonality between Christianity and Buddhism (not overtly); driving his characters to find their own humanity by first giving up that humanity. Ultimately, the characters only seem to rise from their own personal hells once they've given up those attachments to their former lives and begin to live for others.
Politically, the book couldn't be more timely. Sides constantly shift as goverments backstab 'less fortunate' countries in the name of profit, while individuals duke it out at a corporate level on their own personal ego trips. Parents sell out their own children to wager on rising corporate kings. This sort of sophistication is well past the Tezuka of the 50's and 60's, placing at or beyond the high water-mark reached by Alan Moore's 'From Hell' (maybe not your personal favorite, but a superbly dense, sophisticated comic, way out in front of the pack.)
Ultimately however, Tezuka shows he is, above all other things, a great story teller. The characters are compelling and pull you along on their harrowing trip through dissolution, hell and rediscovery, and when that ending comes (probably not without a few shed tears), we have precisely the kind of ending you would expect from any great novel: highly satisfying with a sense of personal granduer.
This is a triumph for Vertical, and if there was a way to induce everyone who reads comics to read Ode to Kirihito, Tezuka would win his crown in the US overnight. It has everything to succeed, short of the mechanism to put it in the hands of every reader.
This is an excellent manga, and I highly recommend to anybody who enjoys a great story.
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