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Ayako Hardcover – November 30, 2010

4.2 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


A 2010 About.com Best Manga of the Year Selection

“Best New Seinen/Josei Manga of 2010—Drama
Ayako depicts horrifying events, but it is beautifully presented. Connoisseurs of comics craft will find much to admire in Tezuka’s cinematic approach to paneling, pacing, and illustration. Peter Mendelsund’s striking design gives this 1970’s story a modern mood to attract mature readers.”—About.com

“Panel after panel flows effortlessly, composed in such a way that it draws you in, despite the cartoonish characters that Tezuka is so well known for. His scenery and backgrounds show a vibrant land slowly weighed down by filth and corruption… While I have been dismissive of Tezuka’s work in the past, I am fully convinced by Ayako… This book is one of Vertical’s finer achievements and a must-have for any Tezuka or intelligent comics fan. 9.5/10” —Comics Village

“It is a portrait of humanity’s dark side on par with Dante’s Inferno… With so many interlocking storylines, all meticulously charted up to the final page, this drama plays out on a stage so grand that only Tezuka could have conceived it. Even the artwork reaches heights that are yet to be surpassed today… For pure story and visual impact, one of the best ever. A-” —Anime News Network

“Like some of Vertical’s previous long-form Tezuka releases—MW and Ode to Kirihito in particular—Ayako isn’t afraid to get dark and dreary. In fact, Ayako may be one of the bleakest yet. That is, of course, said as a term of endearment; this nearly 700-page work sucks you into its twisted narrative from the very first chapter, and its grip only gets icier as the pages turn… From Peter Mendelsund’s elegant cover design to Mari Morimoto’s dialect-infused translation, this is another must for fans of Osamu Tezuka and comics in general.” —Otaku USA

“It’s all fearless stuff, and all in the service of a story that looks pitilessly at the way people cling desperately to scraps of power and influence even as it corrupts them from within all the more. No lie is great enough to tell, no sin mortal enough to contemplate, no life sacrosanct in the face of such need. What’s remarkable is how Tezuka’s storytelling makes such dank and horrific things into the stuff of compulsively readable, wide-gauge visual drama. You’re drawn in despite yourself, not just once but many times over.” —Genji Press

About the Author

Osamu Tezuka (1928-89) is the godfather of Japanese manga comics. He originally intended to become a doctor and earned his degree before turning to what was then a medium for children. His many early masterpieces include the series known in the U.S. as Astro Boy. With his sweeping vision, deftly interwined plots, feel for the workings of power, and indefatigable commitment to human dignity, Tezuka elevated manga to an art form. The later Tezuka, when he authored Buddha, often had in mind the mature readership that manga gained in the sixties and that had only grown ever since. The Kurosawa of Japanese pop culture, Osamu Tezuka is a twentieth century classic.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Vertical; First Edition edition (November 30, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1934287512
  • ISBN-13: 978-1934287514
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 2.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,296,460 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Ayako" by Osamu Tezuka is a masterpiece. On the surface, it is a startling story of events in post-WW2 Japan. However, within those pages, it challenges how we think about life, death, family, and country. I thought "Buddha" was his opus until I read "Ayako."

"Ayako" is the story of a girl who is the daughter in the Tenge clan, a family in the Japanese countryside, coming to grips with the land reform that threatens to upend their way of life. More sinister and damaging yet is the degenerate patriarch of the family. I will not spoil the book for you, but some of his actions are reprehensible. It is a testament to the freedom of press in Japan that Tezuka was able to publish this book at all. Jiro Tenge, a son who comes home from the war, instead of dying valiantly for his country, is another main character.

This masterpiece is a thrilling way to understand both Japanese culture, especially during their own "cultural revolution" after losing WW2. If you have ever wondered what life is like in a country that loses a war, this work will let you understand some of the long-term damage it inflicts.

In many ways, the Tenge clan's evildoing and horrible fate is a metaphor for Japan in it's involvement in WW2. It is no secret that Tezuka is a pacifist, but in this work, he elegantly, violently, shows the high cost of WW2 to Japan. No one in the Tenge clan is spared; even the youngest, most idealistic, clever son is ultimately corrupted. That leaves Ayako.

I will not spoil the plot for you, but I will say that the brutal treatment of Ayako is metaphoric as well, perhaps on several levels. Is she Japan itself? Is she the natural world? Is she a metaphor for the old, ordered feudalistic society of Japan pre-WW2?
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ayako weighs in at exactly 700 pages, making it a book to be reckoned with. It is in fact a Book, beautiful and well-published (but probably too big to carry around casually; an e-reader edition would have been awesome, but alas). Perhaps because of the way it has been published, in a tasteful, hardcover, single-volume edition, its ad copy attempts to market it as a Novel, stating, "Ayako looms as a pinnacle of Naturalist literature in Japan with few peers even in prose, the striking heroine a potent emblem of things left unseen by the war." I read the publicity, got really excited, and had Amazon ship it to me on the day it came out. If people were comparing Ayako to Faulkner and Tolstoy, why shouldn't I read it immediately? Unfortunately, although Ayako is certainly a major accomplishment in the field of graphic novels, I am going to have to put my foot down and declare that it is not in fact on par with the best of Japanese prose. Far from it. As literature, Ayako is riddled with problems.

Let's start with the storytelling. The plot is highly improbable from beginning to end, and its developments often don't make much sense if the reader begins to question them. The ending, which reeks of poetic justice, feels especially heavy handed. If one simply accepts the story as it unfolds, it's not so far-fetched that it's ridiculous, but "a pinnacle of Naturalist literature" it is not. The pacing is also highly uneven; certain key plot points happen way too quickly. This refusal to let the reader slow down and figure out what's happening is especially bad at the beginning and end of the book, which are obviously the worst places for a hastily drawn story.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Of all the reviews I've read of this book, the most strikingly off are written here. I found this work to be a near-masterstroke of comix genius, sans a few things here and there, which the other reviewers have pointed out well (and not so well). I couldn't help but feel this was an epic on the scale of "Apollo's Song", though "Ayako" follows a very different story arch (one of family and not of self). Sakuemon Tenge, in his most feverish moments, reminded me of none other than King Lear; a despot and a fool despite his title among the country's men. The characterization of many here is deep, and like most Tezuka (and Shakespeare), he is concerned with what Jacobethan's would've called "problem plays"-- the moral center of Tezuka's characters is never fully defined, we are only witness to their actions as they unfold. Some have called the narrative sloppy. No one dare call "Hamlet"'s narrative plot-holed; with epic tragedy some element of fantasy must be obtained while an element of disbelief must also be held to continue an otherwise ending narrative yarn (think Rosencrantz and Guildenstern's "dilemma"). The titular character herself is left alone (literally and not) for much of the book. Those like myself, interested in the punishments that Malvolio faced in Twelfth Night, wish she had more introspective depth and poise. A minor complaint.

Those saying the ending was a little ham-fisted: we're in agreement, here. It feels rushed, and like "Dororo" and "Phoenix" was probably a result of Tezuka working on a dozen projects at once. If any man could pull off that work ethic, he could. The translation never bothered me while I read. This isn't Tezuka's masterpiece, but it's a beautifully packaged addition to your growing Tezuka library. At ~700 pages, it isn't for the initiate (start off with some Black Jack), but it is a glimpse into the hectic and intricate mind of the God of Comics.
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