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Buddha, Vol. 1: Kapilavastu Hardcover – October 1, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
Tezuka, the master of Japanese comics, mixes his own characters with history as deftly as he transfers the most profound, complex emotions onto extremely cartoony characters, and his work defies easy categorization. In Buddha, originally serialized in the 1970s and one of his last works, he lavishly retells the life of Siddhartha, who isn't even born until page 268. Instead, Tezuka introduces Chapra, a slave who attempts to escape his fate by posing as the son of a general; Tatta, a crazed wild child pariah who communes with animals; Chapra's slave mother, who stands by him no matter what; and Naradatta, a monk attempting to discover the meaning of strange portents of the Buddha's birth. Throughout the book, the characters engage in fresh and unexpected adventures, escapes and reverses, as they play out Tezuka's philosophical concern with overcoming fate and the uselessness of violence. Despite episodes of extreme brutality and broad humor, the core of the story revolves around various set pieces, as when Tatta sacrifices himself to a snake to save Naradatta and Chapra's mom. After a moment of intense emotion, the scene is upended by the arrival of a bandit who mocks their attempts at keeping their karmic slates clean. "Why were you all fussing over some stupid trade? Why not just kill the snake and eat it?" The answer unfolds over succeeding volumes. Heavily influenced by Walt Disney, Tezuka's often cute characters may take some getting used to, but his storytelling is strong and clean. Appearing in handsome packages designed by Chip Kidd, this is a stunning achievement.
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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
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Top customer reviews
After I got past the anachronisms (characters referring to modern products) and the attempts to use modern idiom (example: the use of the phrase "my peeps"), it was hard to put the book down. In fact I read a volume a day. Tezuka draws the way he feels like and that means that the characters range from classic semi-realistic manga to Japanese comic style to pure Disney (especially the crocodiles) all against realistically drawn backgrounds. The female characters are almost always drawn half-naked, just like Indian sculpture and paintings from that period. It may be a little hard for the Western senses to have semi-naked women involved with serious religious discussion but that's our problem not the story. The dialog is in the percussive manga style but the ideas of Buddhism are there and you can follow the road of Buddha's conflicts as he reaches his final philosophy.
I was not terribly familiar with the details of the Buddha story, and knew Tezuka only through his Tetsuwan Atomu ("Iron-armed Atom", aka "Astro Boy") and so I took it up.
I found the series a compelling read, going straight through Vol 1-8 in about three days. I can sympathize with the reviewer who found it bizarre and disturbing; reference by 6th BC Indians to the New York Yankees baseball season does rather pull one up. Somehow though, and quite remarkably, Tezuka's innocence(?)/irreverence(?) succeeds in thoroughly humanizing Gautama Buddha, making both him & his times tangible and vivid and real. This is definitely not hagiography. Nor is it Herman Hesse-style adorational poetry. It is, however, wonderful and dynamic storytelling.
Tezuka has made the book very witty, and even adlibs here and there with funny characters. If you want to add some variety to your reading, this final series by the brilliant master of drawing, scripting and framing, Osamu Tezuka is strongly recommended.
Just read it for fun, without too much of an expectation, or looking to find flaws in the book, since it is linked to a man that becomes enlightened and starts a religion. Tezuka does not proselytize. He was at the end of his life, when writing this series, so he could care less. The series is fresh, and has some innocence to it, a quality that is so hard to find these days... I am sorry if the review sounds very one-dimensional, but I had never read anything by Tezuka, and this series was one of the best comic book series I have ever read.
Not so much a historical account as it is an in-depth look at Buddhist principles and beliefs. Tezuka doesn't focus so much on the life of Buddha, but rather on the people, places and drama that surrounds Siddharta as he struggles gaining, accepting, and teaching enlightenment.
I highly recommend this series for anyone interested in either comics or Buddhism.
However, given the subject it lacks the sensationalist and gripping (if repetitive) taste of some of his one mammoth serialized volumes such as MV or the Ode to Kirihito. Buddha is published in English in 8 volumes and things really take shape towards volume 3 or 4, and become quite amazing in terms of the medium towards the final part. If you are not in for the full ride I'd probably recommend other works from him.