I have read the entire Buddha series this year, and rather than review each individually, I will post this review on each one. Sorry if this seem crass; I had originally planned to only post on Book 8, but I wanted to tell as many people as possible, just how good these books are.
It is impossible to heap too many superlatives upon the Buddha Series, it is simply awesome. The artwork ranges from elegant and attractive to ridiculously primitive but the abrupt changes in style never seem to jar. The story is both ancient and sacred and is told with a beguiling mixture of reverence and irreverence. On one page, there will be laid out an important tenet of the Buddhist faith and on the next, a reference to television and E.T.
The stories in no way attempt to be an accurate retelling of the Buddha's life, although all the key moments are there. There are many allegorical digressions and although many of the main characters are entirely fictional they are used well to illustrate Buddha's teachings.
Over the eight book sequence, there is a fair amount of repetition of themes and even storylines, which may irritate some, but since Buddhists (among many others) have been preaching peace and forgiveness for the last two and half thousand years, with seemingly little effect on most of humanity, a few more iterations won't do any harm.
If you have any interest in either Manga or Buddhism, then I urge you give these books a try; life-changing is probably too strong a term, but these books have had a profound effect on my world view. They are peerless and magnificent.
Prince Siddhartha, the boy who will one day become the Buddha, has cast off his life as a prince and becomes a monk. Volume 3 of Tezuka's epic chronicles his ordeals, opening with the beautiful boy monk asleep under a tree wakening in full awareness to a new day. We follow him as he meets with the monk Dhepa whose backstory was introduced to us in Volume 1. He takes Siddhartha to meet his master Naradatta introducing him along the way to the ascetic tradition of undertaking ordeals in order to cleanse the self of desire and become purer, entertainingly ridiculed to show how the Buddha began to question this polar opposite to his former regal life and at the end of this volume attains enlightenment.
Tezuka brings together the familiar Buddhist myth with a cast of ordinary people, tragic, hilarious, stupid, drawn with such skill and bringing the story of Siddhartha's inner and outer journeys vividly to life within a landscape and society that are both historic and timeless, with some wonderful anachronisms.