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Buddha, Vol. 4: The Forest of Uruvela Paperback – November 14, 2006
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"Infused with humor and history, the epic of Siddhartha is perhaps Osamu Tezuka's crowning acheivement and illustrates why, without irony, Tezuka is referred to as 'The King of Japanese Comics'." - LA Weekly"Buddha is one of Tezuka's true masterpieces. We're lucky to have this excellent new edition in English." - Scott McCloud, author of Understanding Comics"In handsome volumes designed by Chip Kidd, the Vertical books present Tezuka at his best." - National Post
"Buddha is an engrossing tale. The armchair philosopher, the devout Buddhist, the casual manga fan - this book satisfies all with its tale of humanism through sequential art, and definitely earns its place on a bibliophile's bookshelf." -Anime Insider"This is one of the greatest acheivements of the comics medium, a masterpiece by one of the greats." -Artbomb.net"In Tezuka's world, the exquisite collapses into the goofy in a New York minute, the goofy into the melodramatic, the melodramatic into the brutal, and the brutal into the sincerely touching. The suprising result is a work wholly unique and downright fun." -Time Out NY"Tezuka's Buddha is a striking and memorable confluence of ancient wisdom and contemporary popular art." -Yoga Journal
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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The not yet Buddha, Siddhartha continues to follow Dhepa deeper into the world of the aesthetics. With them is the much younger Assaji. In Assaji Siddhartha has the example of a person certain of the day of his death, and at peace with his fate. Siddhartha has yet to understand why there must be death and what is it about humans that they alone carry awareness of the fate all living things share.
In volume 3 we were shown the realization ordeals that intended to purify the soul and only bring death are futile. Yet the purpose of our heroes arrival in the Forrest of Uruvelta is to practice just just such ordeals of purification. Instead of finding ever more purified souls we find emaciated and sometimes dead would be priests who are as petty and given to pride and violence as people less determined to be purified.
Siddhartha will attain his status as the sacred Buddha, but there remain lessons to be learned.
I remain less than satisfied. The most beautiful acts of Siddhartha happen when he is most engaged with the living. Acting for life seems to me to be the best actions of the future Buddha. Yet he is most protective of his need to separate himself from love and any human loyalty. Siddhartha, now Buddha seems to understand this completely. Perhaps I will need the rest of the books to catch the glimmer of the deeper lesson.
Those familiar with the story of Buddha will find this very different from what they learned. A whole new cast of characters is introduced to embellish the tale, such as Yatala the giant slave, the Crystal Prince, and Tatta and Migaila, two reformed bandits. Familiar characters are also enhanced. Sujata plays a much larger role than simply offering him milk, and Brahma himself even makes an appearance.
Throughout the book, Tezuka does not forget that this is first of all a comic. There are plenty of moments of comic relief, including baseball references and author self-insertion. Despite the threat of death ever looming over the plot, the reader is constantly smiling at the characters' antics.
The Forest of Uruvela, in the end, is a stunning display of artistry that perfectly captures Buddha's moment of Enlightenment and shows clearly why Tezuka is consider the godfather of Japanese comics.
This story reaches its crescendo when Buddha says "Like trees, grass, hills and streams, humans exist, as part of nature, so there is some purpose for which we live... tied to all that is! If you did not exst, some thing would go awry. You, too, play a crucial part!"
What is remarkable is he is able to do this while entertaining; as readers, we become spellbound by his picture-perfect drawings. His full page landscapes, although in black and white line drawing, are mesmerizing and captivating. Even if you are not a fan of Japanese manga, try this one; Tezuka may win you over.
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