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Tezuka Manga in History II: Apollo’s Lunar Landing and Lunar Rocks (No. 1)


Tezuka Manga in History II: Apollo’s Lunar Landing and Lunar Rocks (No. 1)

Tezuka Manga in History by Tetsuya Kurosawa


It has been 40 years since Apollo landed on the moon.


At 8:43 a.m. on March 16, 2009 (Japan Time), Japanese astronaut, Mr. Koichi Wakata took his third trip to space boarding on the space shuttle Discovery and will stay in the space for three months.Now he is staying at the International Space Station to accomplish his mission


A lot of topics about space are featured this year since it is the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11’s lunar landing, but it seems somehow people lack excitement for me.


Actually people were more excited forty years ago.

Apollo’s Lunar Landing and Lunar Rocks (No. 1)

At 11:56 a.m. on July 21, 1969, Armstrong stood on the moon as the first human-being on the star other than Earth.

The moment was televised live on TV worldwide. Since it was the first day of my summer vacation, I was playing outside then.I remember I was called back my father and watched TV closely with my family.

I literally watched TV closely not only because I was preoccupied but because the image was not clear enough due to a lot of noise.

Anyway, we were convinced that the image showed us illimitable possibilities of science.People were excited as if they were actually on the moon.

Tezuka Manga in History II: Apollo’s Lunar Landing and Lunar Rocks (No. 1) (photo01)

Left: A spinning-driven space ship. It is similar to Gemini Space ship in 1960’s rather than Apollo.
Right: Apollo stickers sold at candy stores then. They were well finished with artificial coloring.

The Apollo 11 came back to Earth on July 25 with rocks collected on the moon, followed by Apollo 12’s landing on November 19, 1969.In 1970, the International Expo was held in Osaka.The lunar rock collected by Apollo 12 was exhibited at the US Pavilion, and there was a long line of visitors who wanted to see the rock.

Especially during summer vacation season, the line to the pavilion became longer and longer.Due to the extreme heat in summer plus long waiting time, many people taking a line got sick.Japanese government, alarmed by the situation, decided to display a lunar rock presented by US government in the Japan pavilion, although it was much smaller than the one displayed in the US pavilion. Despite such Japanese government’s countermeasure, there still was a long line to the US pavilion.

Satirizing the Lunar Rock Fever

Right away Tezuka made both Apollo and lunar rocks appear in his work. He published a short manga “Apollo wa Naze Yopparattaka (Why did Apollo get drunk?)” in August issue of Manga Dokuhon in 1969.The August issue was released just after Apollo 11’s lunar landing.

“Apollo wa Naze Yopparattaka” is a story about a beautiful woman devilishly tempting men although she actually has a surprisingly ugly face under the makeup. Tezuka sarcastically depicted a gap between the beautiful moon seen from Earth and the wild lunar surface in the story.
Furthermore, in parallel with the sad story of a father and four sons tempted by the woman one after another, Tezuka depicted sorrows of an astronaut boarded on Apollo.

Following the success of Apollo 11 bringing back a lunar rock, Apollo 12 successfully lands on the moon too. However, there is nothing novel on the moon Apollo 12 can bring back to Earth.The base on Earth orders an astronaut to bring back a weight stone for making pickles.Hearing the order, the astronaut desperately drank. This is the end of the story.

The work was written before the lunar rock the real Apollo 12 brought back was displayed at the Expo.

By the way, why did US government send Apollo to the moon?Actually its purpose was not clear from the beginning.Was it to dissolve the birth of Earth through searching lunar surface?There were many reasons mentioned, but to put it bluntly all those reasons were added later.

At that time US was competing against Soviet in the area of space development.The US government was putting its national pride on it.In short, they had to send Americans at any cost before Soviet did. This was the only reason US sent Apollo to the moon.

“Did we come to the moon just to bring back a weight stone?”

Asking himself the question, the astronaut drank straight from the bottle in the space ship.This must be a memorable line satirizing the nature of the event that we, Japanese people, were just excited at as if we were in a festive atmosphere.

Tezuka Manga in History II: Apollo’s Lunar Landing and Lunar Rocks (No. 1) (photo02)Tezuka Manga in History II: Apollo’s Lunar Landing and Lunar Rocks (No. 1) (photo03)

“Apollo wa Naze Yopparattanoka” is contained in vol. 258 “Zokin to Hoseki” of Kodansha Complete
Works.The volume contains satirical Manga works.

Did he predict the Lunar Rock fever at the Expo?

Tezuka Manga in History II: Apollo’s Lunar Landing and Lunar Rocks (No. 1) (photo04)

Tezuka created another satirical short manga about lunar rocks just before Apollo 12 left to the moon.The work for adults titled “Tsukini Hoeru Onna-tachi (Women howling at the moon)” was one of the episodes in “Saitei Shotaiseki”, the one-shot manga series published on Manga Sunday (November 22, 1969).

Apollo was sent to the moon many times to bring back lunar rocks because they sold like hotcakes at the Expo. Finally the moon became like a clean shaved head without rocks and Earth was exposed to peculiar radiation from the moon.Somehow the radiation affects only women, making them rut and assault men under a full moon.

Both works created after Apollo’s landings were satirical cartoons.It is quite interesting.

Tezuka Manga in History II: Apollo’s Lunar Landing and Lunar Rocks (No. 1) (photo05)Tezuka Manga in History II: Apollo’s Lunar Landing and Lunar Rocks (No. 1) (photo06)

“Tsuki ni Hoeru Onna-tachi” is contained in “Fusuke”, vol. 83 of Kodansha Complete Works.
All the men including his supervisor and co-workers were attacked by women except Fusuke.

In the next article, I would like to think closely about why Tezuka was not excited at Apollo’s lunar landing.

By the way, there is one more point I would like you to notice.These two works were published three months before the Osaka Expo.

When I read the works over, I feel like as if they were written after experiencing the fuss which made even Japanese government panicked at the Osaka Expo.

As a common way to praise Tezuka’s achievement, some people pick up only the episodes or things just realized later and bring him up by saying “Tezuka predicted the future! He was genius!”Most of the time I think this kind of evaluation is meaningless since it sounds quite cheap for me.But for the Lunar Rock fever, Tezuka did predict near future accurately.What do you think?

Tezuka Manga in History II: Apollo’s Lunar Landing and Lunar Rocks (No. 1) (photo07)

An article about the lunar rock displayed at the U.S. Pavilion at the Osaka Expo.
An excerpt from “ Nazenani Bankokuhaku” (April, 1970.Shogakukan)

Next time, I would like to review how Tezuka felt about men’s lunar landing while introducing some of his essays and works for children featuring the moon.See you then.

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).

About this column

Mr. Tezuka always said “Managa is satire.” In his works he vividly depicted times each work was published from his own point of view.However, such time backgrounds are easily forgotten with the passage of time.

In this column, I would like to focus on reviewing how Mr. Tezuka depicted times in his works and how his works were engaged in such times.