Osamu Tezuka
New York: Vertical, Inc., January 2006
420 pp.; $24.95 (cloth)

Osamu Tezuka
New York: Vertical, Inc., January 2006
368 pp.; $24.95 (cloth)

Anyone who has spent more than a few minutes in Japan, even if only changing planes at Narita, has encountered manga, those thick tomes of monochrome comics that someone always seems to be reading there wherever you look. You see dark-suited salarymen flipping through manga on the train to work and uniformed schoolgirls clutching manga on their way to class. There are manga about superheroes, of course, but others feature sports, gambling, war, romance, parenting, and almost every variety of sex, with titles geared to everyone from children to pensioners.

America has nothing like this diversity and ubiquity of comics. But next year marks the twentieth anniversary of Alan Moore’s Watchmen series, a groundbreaking deconstruction of the superhero ideal that launched something of a comic book renaissance here. Along with Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns (a noir retelling of the Batman story) and Art Spiegelman’s Maus (a Holocaust survivor’s tale recreated in comic book form), Watchmenspawned a new wave of serious American comic books that appealed to adults as well as children. This in turn has led many readers in the States to explore the Japanese phenomenon of manga. Now, with the publication of volumes 7 and 8, all eight volumes of Osamu Tezuka’s epic manga series Buddha are available to the English-speaking world.

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