Tezuka’s thought about the Lunar Landing
Last time I introduced two satirical mangas for adults Tezuka published just after Apollo 11’s lunar landing.
Tezuka depicted festive mood over the lunar landing ironically in both works. By the way, how did Tezuka actually feel about the landing?
We could find the answer for this question in his essay titled “Atarashii Kuso no Umareru Toki (The time new imagination starts)” in Asahi Graph August 15, 1969 issue which was featuring Apollo’s lunar landing in full-scale.
Tezuka wrote “Until Galileo’s observation of the moon, people must have been lucky because they could just fantasize about the moon without any prior knowledge.Today, beautiful and free-wheeling stories such as a myth personifying the moon are disappearing one by one.Even the ceremony at a full moon night is formalized.” “It is obvious that stories featuring the moon have less imagination than before.I heard that writers avoid having the moon as the setting for science fiction stories.”
”A trip to the moon” (1902)
Scientists flew to the moon boarding on a huge artillery shell, finding moon people living there.
But in the latter half, Tezuka changed his tone radically, expecting children born in the space age a lot. Tezuka wrote “Children might be apathetic about the lunar landing even though they watched the moment on TV. But they were just on the way to create a new myth starting from this moment.” And Tezuka ended his essay with the following sentence: “I believe even if the day comes all the secrets of the moon are disclosed, children will never forget another moon, a moon as their friend, filled with fantasies and poets.”
Asahi Graph August 15, 1969 Issue in which Tezuka’s essay was run
Contained in “Tezuka Osamu Essay 4” of Tezuka Osamu Complete Works vol.392 (Kodansha)
The authentic science fictions for children
As written in the essay, Tezuka published a dreamful science fiction featuring lunar rocks for children. That is “The Adventure of Rubi”serialized from October 1969 issue of Shogaku Ninensei.
An astronaut brought back a red rock he picked up on the moon. Actually the rock was one of the pieces Space Monster Zonda strewed.Once a living creature touch the rock, the rock starts sending signals so that Zonda can find out the whereabouts of the creature to eat out all the living things on the planet.Then a boy and girl named Rubio and Kuriko were charged with the mission to save the earth.
This story depicts such Rubio and Kuriko’s striving.
“The Adventure of Rubi” in Tezuka Osamu Complete Works vol. 35 (Kodansha)
Tezuka depicted fanciful stars and strange but funny aliens in this work, which must be one of his best science fictions inheriting the taste of Tezuka’s unique alien stories such as “The Adventure of Rock” or “Captain Ken”.
Thus Tezuka provided children with a chance to have a big dream for space utilizing the lunar rocks as a starter while he made fun of the big fuss over Apollo’s landing and lunar rocks in his works for adults.
In 1972, Tezuka wrote quite a unique one-shot comic featuring the moon.
That was “The 1st Men in the Moon” published on the April 1972 issue of Kibo no Tomo.The original story of the work was published as a novel in 1901 by H. G. Wells, a British novelist who wrote “The Time Machine” (1896) and “The Invisible Man” (1897).
A new writer and an amateur inventor headed to the moon boarding on a spherical space ship made with materials which could block the power of gravity.
The moon they landed was not barren.Exposed to sun light, the air frozen melted to let plants sprout out all at once.Also there were moon people living in groups under the ground like ants.Then the two were captured by such moon people.
”The 1st Men in the Moon”
Tezuka arranged the last part in his style.
Soon Apollo 16 succeeded in the 5th lunar landing in April, 1972. Why did Tezuka turned the science fiction novel written more than 70 years ago to comic then?
I guess Tezuka intentionally wrote the work in order to go back to the origin of science fictions once again.
“The First Men in the Moon” by H. G. Wells (1967, Hayakawa Publishing)
Indeed, Tezuka began the serialization of a full-length work “Birdman Anthology”, which can be referred as the expanded version of “the Adventure of Rock”, in March 1971, the year just before the landing of Apollo 16.
Thereafter, Tezuka’s space comics gave up the chase to the space development in reality and flew to the world of free imagination.
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.