Feb 26

New Osamu Tezuka manga

Tom Baker (Chiba-ken, 1989-91) is a staff writer for The Daily Yomiuri. He usually writes for DYWeekend, the paper’s arts and leisure section. You can follow Tom’s blog at tokyotombaker.wordpress.com.

Recently he reviewed the manga “Ayako,” a 1970s manga by Osamu Tezuka that only recently became available in English. At nearly 700 pages, “Ayako” tells the story of a large and extremely dysfunctional Japanese family from the late 1940s to the early 1970s. Here is an excerpt:

The title character…is the baby of the family, and becomes a scapegoat for the other family members’ sins. One way Tezuka illustrates this idea is to show a full page of non-rectangular panels, resembling irregular panes of a stained-glass window, where various family members are depicted in words and pictures. These relatively large panels surround one small panel in the center of the page, where little Ayako sits alone in the darkness, with no accompanying text.

At this point in the story, the family has condemned Ayako to imprisonment in a pit–literally–to keep her from revealing a crime she has witnessed.

Befitting the subject matter, Tezuka often uses film noir effects on his pages, filling them with shadows and strange viewing angles.

When a man tries to rescue Ayako from the pit, after she has been in it so long that she is afraid to leave, Tezuka gives us another full page of nonrectangular panels. Their jagged shapes are filled with exaggerated perspectives as the man reaches down to her, well conveying her feeling of panic.

Read the full review here.

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