Osamu Tezuka

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I wish that all the ills of society - conformism, laziness, indolence, betrayal, violence, lust, rape - and especially the evils of politics will be represented in the form of an absolute depravity.

Osamu Tezuka (3 November 1928 – 9 February 1989), cartoonist and Japanese animation director best known for creating the manga series Astro Boy, Kimba the White Lion and Black Jack.


Quotes[edit]

But at the time, everyone in Superman looked like an alien from another planet. Compared with that, Mickey Mouse was just an animal, and so was easier to use. That’s the side I got consumed with. So just maybe, had I felt more in common with Superman, my drawing style would have been different.
The children face problems such as violence, abuse, suicide etc. that medicine can not heal.
I will continue to send messages through manga. Children avoid them what force or what they want to impose anything. That is why I will continue to look for those things that [...] inspire their hearts.
I feel there is sensuality ... eroticism in the primary things that move, like animals and insects. Being able to inspire the movement to still images ... gives me the joy of the creator that breathes life into things that do not have life.
I first followed the comics of Tagawa Suihō and Yokoyama Ryūichi. But suddenly, once I became devoted to Disney, I set out to copy and master that stuffed-animal style, eventually ending up with how I now draw.
  • I conceived this story [ MW ] with the intention of presenting readers a picaresque drama that distort the traditional atmosphere of my stories leave them stunned.
    • From the Afterword to April 1978 MW , vol. 3, translation by Francesco Nicodemus, Hazard Editions, Milan, 2005, p. 193. ISBN 887502037X
  • Now I feel a great regret. My style inadequate forces me to complete the work without being able ...
    • From the Afterword to April 1978 MW , vol. 3, translation by Francesco Nicodemus, Hazard Editions, Milan, 2005, p. 193. ISBN 887502037X
  • When Superman and Batman came to Japan, it was right after the war, right? Together with the G.I.s. In other words, our height and theirs was completely different. We were totally overwhelmed physically, and got this complex about being unable to compete with White people. It was just then that Superman arrived, the White man’s representative, and I thought who the hell does he think he is? And then Lois Lane, the classic American beauty. Even her outfit and her makeup were like a foreign woman’s. Of course today Japanese make themselves up more like foreigners than foreigners do. Ha ha ha.
  • Ha ha ha. But at the time, everyone in Superman looked like an alien from another planet. Compared with that, Mickey Mouse was just an animal, and so was easier to use. That’s the side I got consumed with. So just maybe, had I felt more in common with Superman, my drawing style would have been different.
  • The children face problems such as violence, abuse, suicide etc. that medicine can not heal. It will never help these children psychologically and be his support ...? Even when they are in difficulty, in principle they do not speak with adults, or confide about their true intentions. However, expect some serious messages from adults. I will continue to send messages through manga. Children avoid them what force or what they want to impose anything. That is why I will continue to look for those things that [...] inspire their hearts.
    • From the intervention to the fifteenth national conference on school health and safety in schools , 1987; quoted in AA.VV., Osamu Tezuka: A Manga Biography , vol. 2, translated by Marta Fogato, Coconino Press, Bologna, 2001, p. 79. ISBN 8888063072
  • The new readers have mentality, fashions, feelings completely different from those of previous readers. Should I draw comics following my first readers in their growth? Or should I stop doing the cartoonist? ... More or less every three years a cartoonist for children is cornered. I, too, every three years, living a crisis. So I decide and I get back to work for my new readers as if they were the first. ... This is why I am certain that the good work that will draw able to make happy readers of all time.
    • From My Diary manga , 1966; quoted in AA.VV., Osamu Tezuka: A Manga Biography , vol. 3, translated by Marta Fogato, Coconino Press, Bologna, 2001, p. 26. ISBN 8888063102
  • The science fiction and manga readers had the same ... Most fiction writers then had had some experience in the comic and some of it had even been absorbed completely ... I can not understand why those who love science fiction also loves the manga and vice versa. There are two kinds characterized by a biting satire and at worst are called "extravagant". ... Both are aimed toward the future, and therefore contain romantic adventures for young people.
    • Since I cartoonist ; quoted in AA.VV., Osamu Tezuka: A Manga Biography , vol. 3, translated by Marta Fogato, Coconino Press, Bologna, 2001, p. 73. ISBN 8888063102
  • I feel there is sensuality ... eroticism in the primary things that move, like animals and insects. Being able to inspire the movement to still images ... gives me the joy of the creator that breathes life into things that do not have life. The movement must be sufficiently round and sweet ... so express its eroticism. In creating cartoons I always think of an ideal, but ... half the finish to doubt the rightness of what I'm doing. So I put all my expectations always work next. * * [...] I often say jokingly that comics are my true wife and that the cartoons are my lover. The fact that I am fully dedicated to animation, my lover ... is because it allows me to express in a sublime ... the interesting metamorphosis of a changing body. For me, the greatest fun, no doubt, lies in the draw and give movement to change processes. Always look in my cartons this metamorphosis.
    • From Interview to the author, in Osamu Tezuka, Jumping; quoted in AA.VV., Osamu Tezuka: A Manga Biography , vol. 4, translated by Marta Fogato, Coconino Press, Bologna, 2001, p. 178. ISBN 8888063188
  • I am convinced that comics should not only make people laugh. For this in my stories found tears, anger, hatred, pain and end not always happy.
    • Quoted in Helen McCarthy, Osamu Tezuka: God of manga , translated by Fabio Deotto, Edizioni BD, 2010, back cover.
  • Long ago, many of the small hells that took place in the camps right next to my house showed the joy of living, and tirelessly despite everything
    • From Save the Planet of glass ; quoted in AA.VV., Osamu Tezuka: A Manga Biography , vol. 1, translated by Marta Fogato, Coconino Press, Bologna, 2000, p. 106. ISBN 888806303X
  • What I try to appeal through my works is simple. The opinion is just a simple message that follows: "Love all the creatures! Love everything that has life"! I have been trying to express this message in every one of my works. Though it has taken the different forms like "the presentation of nature," "the blessing of life," "the suspicion of too much science-oriented civilisation," anti-war and so on.
  • I first followed the comics of Tagawa Suihō and Yokoyama Ryūichi. But suddenly, once I became devoted to Disney, I set out to copy and master that stuffed-animal style, eventually ending up with how I now draw.
  • Those American comics themselves were heavily influenced by Keaton’s comedies, Mack Sennett, those sorts of films from the golden age of comedy. The gagmen that appeared there, for example Roscoe Arbuckle or Ben Turpin, there were lots of comics that used their style, their faces just as is. Especially Chaplin with his bowed legs and over-sized shoes. Those sorts of features were used directly in comics. In that era, all American cartoonists imitated the stars of comedy. That is what I worked so hard at copying, and so that’s why my comics are bowlegged and big-shoed. At the level of content too I was deeply influenced by the strong social caricatures of Chaplin’s comedies, the tears mixed with the laughter. The biggest influence of all was the rhythm.
  • Around 1945, daily life might have been hard, but the reputation of Disney was at its highest. The voices of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck had stabilized, Snow White and Bambi were huge hits and had received a number of international prizes. It really was like the brightness of a rising sun. And then Japanese children after the war had no choice but to face the flood of Disney comics that accompanied the brainwashing of “American democracy.” That was their merit as propaganda against the Japanese.

About Osamu Tezuka[edit]

Tezuka is a hero in Japan, a pioneer on equal standing with the world’s other great illustrators and animators, including Walt Disney. ~ Kris Kosaka
For Tezuka, a doctor is not just someone who heals the body, but someone who appreciates the value of life, and inspires others to value it as well. In Tezuka's Buddhist cosmology all life is sacred and nothing is more valuable than creating or continuing life. ~ Cian O'Luanaigh

"The life of Osamu Tezuka, Japan’s ‘god of manga’" (2016/08/06)[edit]

Kris Kosaka, "The life of Osamu Tezuka, Japan’s ‘god of manga’", Japan Times, (2016/08/06)

  • Tezuka is a hero in Japan, a pioneer on equal standing with the world’s other great illustrators and animators, including Walt Disney. This high status is a result of his prolific output, innovative style and the role he played in elevating manga to a form of art. Tezuka’s legacy continues to grow in Japan and abroad as new reissues or translations of his more than 700 publications are released — from tales of robot “Astro Boy” to the troubled world of doctor “Black Jack.” Then there are the ongoing exhibitions of his work at museums across Japan, including the Tezuka Osamu Manga Museum in his hometown of Takarazuka, Hyogo Prefecture.
  • Tezuka amazed all with his attention to detail and drawing abilities, and some teachers were so impressed that they nurtured his talents through the difficult years of World War II. In 1944, when all students were required to leave school and join the war effort by working in factories, Tezuka would draw manga and leave it in the toilets for other workers to read.
    But one memory from his childhood would linger longer than the others: the firebombing of Osaka. The devastation of that event, and the war that caused it, left a lasting mark on the young artist.
  • Tezuka could never completely abandon medicine. Although he never actively practiced, he became a licensed doctor later in life, and one of his most famous manga series stars the rogue genius doctor, Black Jack. But life as both a doctor and an in-demand (though underpaid) young artist was difficult. Tezuka struggled to meet deadlines and commitments. His family feared for his health and begged him to focus on medicine, but he had become too successful, and too passionate, to stop.
  • Tezuka continued producing work at an astounding pace right up until his untimely death from stomach cancer at 60. Nothing could slow him: not censorship, the demands of various editors nor changes in drawing trends (even when more realistic — i.e., more time consuming — illustrations became popular).

"Osamu Tezuka: Father of manga and scourge of the medical establishment" (21 July, 2010)[edit]

Cian O'Luanaigh, "Osamu Tezuka: Father of manga and scourge of the medical establishment", The Guardian, (21 July, 2010).

  • Tezuka was born in Toyanaka City, Osaka, in 1928. Though he attended medical school and became a licensed physician, he chose not to work as a doctor and instead devoted himself to writing and drawing manga and making animated films.
    Over the course of his long career Tezuka became a defining force in shaping the genre, publishing more than 700 manga running to more than 150,000 pages. Early Tezuka characters had large eyes, inspired by their American counterparts Betty Boop and Disney's Bambi. Large eyes have since become a stylistic hallmark of the whole genre.
  • For Tezuka, a doctor is not just someone who heals the body, but someone who appreciates the value of life, and inspires others to value it as well. In Tezuka's Buddhist cosmology all life is sacred and nothing is more valuable than creating or continuing life.
  • Would we have manga without Tezuka? According to Gravett, the question "is rather like asking if we would have French-language comics without Herge, or American comic books without Jack Kirby. Tezuka was pivotal and a huge inspiration [for manga artists]."

“Life With Manga God Osamu Tezuka: An Interview with Frederik Schodt” (November 10, 2017)[edit]

Frederik Schodt as quoted by Crunchy Roll in “Life With Manga God Osamu Tezuka: An Interview with Frederik Schodt”, (November 10, 2017)

  • He had few opportunities to talk with foreigners in Japanese. And Tezuka was an intensely curious person, because he was drawing so much. He always needed stories, he always needed information. Because he often had in parallel three or four stories that he was working on. He was like a sponge. He was a real intellectual, kind of unique, differentiated a little from other manga artists in the sense that not only had he gone to college, but he had gone to medical school. He was a licensed physician. He had read German literature, Russian literature, American literature, Japanese literature. He was from a completely different orbit. An anomaly in the industry, and he remains so. So I think he was always interested in what’s going on in the outside world, and I think with Jared and me, since we both spoke Japanese very well, he found some value in a friendship with us.
    He was very nice to me, I must say. He changed my life. I only knew him from 1977 to when he died in 1989, so a relatively short time. But I often wondered how is it that he had time to even think about some things. Like sometimes he’d send a postcard, or sometimes he’d call, he wanted to know something like, “what do you think about this?” And then he would always say something like “when you going to get married?” Something like that, like a father almost, because he was older than I was. I’ve often wondered how he had time to think about it, or write. I have letters that he wrote, I don’t know how he had time.
  • After Tezuka passed away there were so many memorial publications and documentaries. He was so lauded, it was a huge national event in Japan. And then of course inevitably after a certain number of years there’s this “anti-Tezuka movement,” simply because his influence was so great, at some point you have to revolt against him. Some people have said, “how could he possibly have done all that stuff? It’s not possible.” From the standpoint of Americans, they would think nobody could be that productive. You could not draw that amount of stuff. But of course in the case of Americans, they’re usually not aware of the Japanese production system that Tezuka was responsible largely for developing, how that operated. He was like a movie director: He had people who would fill in the bushes in the background, spot the blacks and that kind of thing, but he was in charge, he drew the characters and he broke down the story. He may have had all kinds of assistants drawing the squares on the page for the panels and spotting the blacks and doing background designs and stuff, but it was his work.
  • Q: Tezuka passed away in '89. He didn’t live to see Evangelion or Pokémon happen. Of course it’s difficult to speculate, but what do you think he would think to see what happened since then?
A: He would be very happy. He’d be tickled to death. He’d also, I think, take issue with some aspects of the popularity of manga today, and would probably say that people have to push the envelope more in storytelling. But he would be thrilled. How could he not? It’s kind of like what he forecast, prophesied.
  • [H]e also saw manga and anime as a vehicle for — not to sound too idealistic — international peace. And he really believed in international communication. He believed that better communication was the key to world peace. In today’s world that sounds almost naïve.
  • Most of the time he was outside of the system in a sense because he was a manga artist. Manga were not as accepted as they are today. So he was this highly intellectual individual working in a field that doesn’t have a lot of legitimacy like it does today. So in that sense he could comment on things as an outsider. He tended to sometimes stake out slightly different positions. Let’s put it this way: sometimes he would modify his positions a little bit depending on who he was talking to. But he was very anti-war, anti-military, that is through and through in all his life. And actually it’s not just Tezuka, but also everyone in his generation. It was an ideology.
  • Q: You could read some lightly anti-capitalist themes in some of his work, but it’s hard to say how much is just anti-authority.
A: Well he occasionally drew things for Akahata, which is the Red Flag Newspaper, but of course in Japan the Communist Party is just a legitimate political party. They’re very mainstream in Japan. There are people in Japan who have written about Tezuka’s politics. And Tezuka sometimes changed depending on his audience. But he was very consistent in his anti-military, anti-war, and also in his stories, he was always siding with the little guy.
  • Q: There’s been this roller-coaster ride of Tezuka’s reputation in the West. He went from being unknown to being known as the “Astro Boy guy” to it being almost reversed and people knowing him for super dark adult comics. How do you think he ought to be remembered?
A: All of those things. But it was weird the order in which it appeared in the United States at least. And not only the time lag. It took so long for anybody to get the courage to bring out anything by Tezuka in the United States, so his stuff started coming out way late. And then you got this preponderance of material from Vertical, the dark stuff, so people started thinking, “well it’s only the dark stuff,” but of course, not only is there Astro Boy, but there’s Unico and there’s all this small kid stuff.
  • Q: It’s been pretty rare that we’ve gotten good adaptations of Tezuka’s work. Pluto is one of the rare ones that's really good. Why do you think that is?
A: I think one of the reasons is Tezuka’s stature. People who are given permission to do a remake of material, they feel so constrained, and you can imagine. It’s true with Astro Boy. Astro Boy’s been made into anime and films in America, and it’s tough! I have a lot of sympathy for the director because you have these pressures from Japan, from family, from fans, they don’t want you to change anything. It’s so difficult to be given permission to rework something that everyone loves.

External links[edit]

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