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TezukaOsamu.net/en > NEWS > Mite-Mite > A Tezuka Manga in History I: Black Jack and the MiG-25 defection incident

Mite-Mite

A Tezuka Manga in History I: Black Jack and the MiG-25 defection incident

(2009/02/09)

A Tezuka Manga in History I: Black Jack and the MiG-25 defection incident

A Tezuka Manga in History By Kurosawa Tetsuya

“Manga is satire.” Mr. Tezuka Osamu often said that and his manga realistically depicted the times in which they were released, from his unique viewpoint. But the historical background to his works would be forgotten with time. In this column I look back at how Mr. Tezuka depicted contemporary times in his works and how the Tezuka manga was related to the times.

 

 

Black Jack and the MiG-25 defection incident  

Black Jack and the MiG-25 defection incident

 

In the summer of 1976, Japan was rocked by the Lockheed bribery scandal. This scandal of enormous proportions, which concerned orders for aircraft of the U.S. company Lockheed and in which many leading Japanese politicians were said to be involved, was revealed in February. At the end of July, it led to the arrest of the former Prime Minister, Tanaka Kakuei.

 

About one and a half months later, on September 6th at 1:54 pm, a MiG-25, a state-of-the-art Soviet jet fighter of the time, suddenly flew into Hokkaido and made a crash landing at HakodateAirport. The pilot of the jet fighter was Lieutenant Viktor Ivoanovich Belenko, a 29-year-old elite airman of the Soviet Air Force. The lieutenant claimed asylum in the US.

This incident, literally dropping out of the sky, caused any number of problems including criticisms of a flaw in the Self-Defense Forces’ air defense system, the treatment of Lieut. Belenko, and the disposal of the jet fighter, and developed into a turmoil that almost eclipsed the Lockheed scandal.  

 

A Tezuka Manga in History I: Black Jack and the MiG-25 defection incident (photo 1)

A report on the MiG-25 defection incident in Shukan Shincho released on September 9th (left) and Shukan Asahi released on 10th

 

Tezuka Osamu created Child from the Sky, the 143rd episode of Black Jack, soon after the incident.

 

One day, a state-of-the-art jet fighter of the Uran Union suddenly lands in the front yard of Black Jack’s home. On board the jet fighter are an air force major, his wife, and their sick young child. The major asks Black Jack to treat his son but the disease is more than he can handle.

 

It is clear that this story was based on the incident of Lieut. Belenko, however, Tezuka did not simply copy the incident but made it into a touching story, depicting parental love and military pride from Black Jack’s viewpoint.

 

The biggest surprise is when it was published.

It was Friday, September 17, 1976 in the 43rd issue (October 18th issue) of Shukan Shonen Champion. Amazingly, this was only ten days after the incident.

When I opened Champion at the time, I almost fell over in shock, surprised at the incredible speed of exploiting this real-life event. Tezuka’s quickness would stand out in comparison with major weekly magazines of the time regarding how and when they reported on the incident.

A Tezuka Manga in History I: Black Jack and the MiG-25 defection incident (photo 2)

Child from the Sky was published in the magazine released on September 17th

A Tezuka Manga in History I: Black Jack and the MiG-25 defection incident (photo 3)

I was stunned when I opened these pages because Japan was still in uproar.
* Click the image to view a larger version  

 

The first magazine article on the incident was published in the September 16th issue of Shukan Shincho released three days after the incident on September 9th. It was a four-page article, scarcely original, but just rehashing the previous media coverage. The second article was in Shukan Asahi, released on September 10th. It was just a one-page article, summarizing the views of aviation commentator Aoki Hideo.

Finally, articles based on reporters’ own research began to be published later in the following week.  

 

A Tezuka Manga in History I: Black Jack and the MiG-25 defection incident (photo 4)

“Weekly magazine articles published around the same time that this episode was published in Champion  

 

Meanwhile, Tezuka must have completed this story on the 13th or 14th at the latest, allowing time for printing and delivery and considering that the 15th was a national holiday.

Besides Black Jack, Tezuka at that time was also serializing works including The Three-eyed One (Shukan Shonen Magazine), Mr. Doronko (Yomiuri Newspaper Sunday Issue), and Rainbow Prelude (Shojo Comic). In addition, MW (Big Comic) and The Phoenix – Nostalgia (Manga Shonen) started in September.

I have heard many stories about Tezuka Osamu’s murderous schedule and the teamwork required by editors and print shops to meet the deadline, which was like walking on a tightrope. But those specific dates offered me a glimpse of the superhuman productivity of the genius.

When you read Child from the Sky again, feeling the atmosphere of the time, you may have a different impression.  

 

A Tezuka Manga in History I: Black Jack and the MiG-25 defection incident (photo 5)

The episode is included in Vol. 11 of Shonen Champion Comics (Akita Publishing) and in Vol. 5 of The Complete Manga Works of Tezuka Osamu (Kodansha)

 

A Tezuka Manga in History I: Black Jack and the MiG-25 defection incident (photo 6)

The 43rd issue of Shukan Shonen Champion in 1976 (October 18th issue)
* Click the image to view a larger version

 

A Tezuka Manga in History I: Black Jack and the MiG-25 defection incident (photo 7)

When the episode was published in book form, the last two pages were slightly changed and Black Jack’s final words became more dramatic
* Click the image to view a larger version

 

Material cooperation: Oya Soichi Library Foundation

 
Kurosawa Tetsuya
Born in 1957 in Tokyo. Freelance writer and manga story writer. The first Tezuka manga he encountered was Astro Boy and since then, for over 40 years, he has collected manga works of the Showa period and toys sold at mom-and-pop candy stores. He has written many Showa-retro related books and articles. Tezuka Osamu Fan Club membership number 364 (inaugural class).




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