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The Book of Human Insects Hardcover – September 20, 2011

3.7 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Brilliant. Just once, I’d like to read a work by Tezuka that wasn’t either at least nearly or totally perfectly crafted… A typical complaint nowadays is that the usual comic costs about $4 and takes about 10 minutes (or less) to read. But with Tezuka’s work, you’re invited to linger over a page for a minute, just taking everything in. One of Tezuka’s (many) skills is his deftness with background details, with an emphasis on lived-in spaces that seem to have texture that you could just grip.”            —MTV Geek

“I suppose just reading a story like that could be repugnant to some people, but I found it weirdly enjoyable. It’s not like Tezuka sugarcoats his lead’s fundamental awfulness, or blatantly asks that we enjoy it as she destroys people—even in that ‘hate the player/love the game’ way that you saw all over pop culture in the early 1970s. It’s most fascinating to me as a big ol’ hate letter to the emerging Japanese post-war generation, although Tezuka includes a vile war-era criminal in the book as well.”
                                    —The Comics Reporter

“It is a riveting experience with so much to think about that multiple readings will not only be in order, but also a great pleasure because this is quality manga from page one… I have read a lot of Tezuka, almost everything of his that has been released in English actually, and The Book of Human Insects is amazing… It stands up with Ode to Kirihito and MW as one of his best but doesn’t have any/many strange quirks that might throw off new readers… A must-own volume from both Vertical and Tezuka. Grade: A+”                     —Fandom Post

"Epic Tezuka is back! As always, Tezuka builds long, winding plotlines and then brilliantly connects them to each other, creating a massive but memorable network of characters. This journey through the worlds of art, entertainment, crime, politics, and business also presents a deeper message about the dead ends and pitfalls of modern society. Tezuka’s ambitions can also be seen in the art, where wild metaphors and images jump off the page" -Anime News Network

About the Author

Osamu Tezuka was born on November 3, 1928, in Osaka. He grew up in an open-minded family exposed to comics and Walt Disney. As a boy he also had a love for insects, which he would later as a grown-up incorporate into pen name. Having developed an intense understanding of the preciousness of life from his wartime experience, Osamu Tezuka aimed to become a physician and later earned his degree in medicine, but ultimately chose the profession he loved best: manga artist and animated film writer.

Tezuka's manga and animated films had a tremendous impact on the shaping of the psychology of Japan's postwar youth. His work changed the concept of Japanese comics, transforming it into an art form and incorporating a variety of new styles in creating the "story cartoon." Osamu Tezuka lived out his entire life tirelessly pursuing his efforts, passing away at the age of 60 on February 8, 1989.

In all, Tezuka produced more than 150,000 pages of graphic storytelling before his death. Posthumously Tezuka's work have won a number of awards in the U.S., including the 2009 Eisner Award given to his series Dororo.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Vertical (September 20, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1935654209
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935654209
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #728,240 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Another reviewer gave this a low rating because he found it "dark"; I found this book unusually profound because it has real character development. I never could get into the lighter Manga of Tezuka or his more sci fi (if that's the word) stuff like Apollo. I found this a very powerful story of human cunning and greed and deception with fantastic art. Is it perfect? No, sometime the story gets confusing but I attribute that to Tezuka's style of working on multiple stories at once. I also am thrilled with the production values - hardcover, dj, sollid book/binding. Highest recommendaiton for Tezuka fans!
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Osamu Tezuka is a name that should not only be known among anime fans, but also among those with even an inkling of passion in the visual arts. To his credit is the creation of narrative manga as we know it today, and the founding of several manga conventions that have since ascended into the collected conscience of the medium. After starting his career with such family-friendly classics as "Astro Boy" and "Kimba the White Lion", Tezuka began to focus on more adult-oriented work in the mid-to-late sixties. This kicked off the period which arguably showed the most of his capability as both an artist and a thinker, and it is in this period that he created "The Book of Human Insects."

"The Book of Human Insects" follows a reporter who becomes ensnared in the world of a young woman who has reached the top of both the academic and artistic world. Through painting, acting, and writing, among other things, she has gotten to a place where no other person has before. There's only one problem: the work she does is never her own. The woman is a master of mimicry, and becomes close to anybody who she finds talented in order to steal their secrets. But what happens to the original creators is more insidious than anybody could imagine, guaranteeing that the victims of plagiarism never say a peep about the woman.

Saying anymore would spoil this excellent story, and rest assured, it IS excellent. As one would expect from any Tezuka story, this is a book devoid of flaws in the way of visuals and storytelling. Many visuals here, though, feel a bit more experimental than future mature works from the artist.
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Format: Hardcover
I feel like a lot of people are bashing this book because it doesn't fit their preconceived notions of what a Tezuka work SHOULD be about, and as a result they don't give this book a fair shot.

No, it's not an optimistic work, it's not upbeat, it's not sci-fi, but it's an incredibly realistic and astute observation of human nature, particularly female sociopathy and narcissism, in the vein of great books like Madame Bovary and movies like Darling starring Julie Christie.

I would highly recommend someone try a short, psychology book for laypeople called Narcissistic Lovers by Cynthia Zayn and Kevin Dibble, then compare the observations of that book to the character Tezuka describes and you'll be shocked at what an incredible insight into personality disordered people Tezuka displays here. I've actually known people like the main character here, and I felt a pang of recognition reading the work.

Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
Some writers love their characters, and can hardly bear to have anything bad happen to them. Osamu Tezuka, though, is not one of them: particularly in his books for adults, like MW, Ayako, Ode to Kirihito, and Apollo's Song, he creates profoundly damaged -- and damaging -- characters, and then sets them up to bounce off each other like frenzied fighting cocks until he's satisfied.

THE BOOK OF HUMAN INSECTS is another work in that vein, though even more so -- it's main character is a cuckoo of a woman, who "steals' the creative abilities of every person she comes into contact with, doing what they do just a bit better and more impressive and leaving them wrung out and ruined when she moves on. It's from that period in Tezuka's career when he was focusing on comics like this -- it was serialized in Play Comic during 1970 and 71, at roughly the same time as ODE and APOLLO. And, to be honest, the people that Toshiko Tomura (or any of her many other names) steals from aren't much better than she is -- they're certainly not innocent, or anything more than slightly better than she is.

Tomura has just won a major literary award with her first book as HUMAN INSECTS opens -- but, as we come to see, that means it's time for her to move on, since she can only have one great achievement in any field. (Since they're not her achievements, really, except in that she takes them and makes them hers.
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