What kind of works do people imagine first among many of Tezuka’s works?A lot of them will imagine a story of a hero with a sense of justice or a dramatic story filled with humanity. Sure such works represent Tezuka Manga but there are other works showing the evil side of humans. “MW”, the work turned into the movie this time, is one of such works.Michio Yuki, the main character of “MW” is a man with all evil.How did Tezuka create such an evil?Now, let’s slip back to the days MW was created.
What is Astro boy lacking?
“Astro boy is not perfect.”
In “Lightning Man”, one episoce of “Astro Boy”, Skunk Kusai said to Dr. Ochanomizu “To be perfect, Astro boy should have evil spirits as human do.”As if his word was s prediction, then Dr. Lamb created “Omega Factor”, the equipment which makes robots have evil spirits in the episode of “Atlas”.
Good and evil, two conflicting spirits in human- this is the theme Tezuka was interested in since early times.
In 1967, Tezuka published “Vampire”, the work serialized in “Shukan Shonen Sunday”.In this work Tezuka squarely did depict evil spirits in human minds.
The cover of Shonen Sunday (above), on which Vampire was serialized.
At that time, Rock’s evil character was especially appalling when most of other works are peaceful.
Toppei, the main character of Vampire, is a boy from Vampire Family.He has an ability to transform himself into a wolf. Though he is normally gentle and good-natured, he becomes irrational and violent once he turns into a wolf.Indeed, he is exactly the character which has both good and evil sides.
Then Rock (Rokuro Makube) appeared as an evil character. His attraction did transcend Toppei’s.
Here Rock comes!
Skunk Kusai would say “Rock is the most humanly human”. Rock utilizes anybody to fulfill his desires and kills them after he uses them up. He first abducts Mika Onishi, a daughter of a company’s president he serves as a houseboy.After obtaining the ransom, he kills her without hesitation.Then he kills President Onishi, Tezuka Osamu (who appears in the work as one character), and Saigo, his best friend who comes up to Tokyo.
(Left) Vampire Cards, which were bound-in supplement to Shonen Book.
The 2nd part of Vampire was serialized in this magazine.I wanted them to use Rock as a Joker.
(Right) Vampire Transforming Magic Card, which was a supplement to “Bessatsu Shonen Sunday Vampire Special Issue”.
By folding up the sheet, Toppei became a wolf
Rock’s appearance was quite sensational then. In 1970’s, a lot of comics related to social problems including taboos appeared as older generation became to read boy’s magazines. However, when Vampire was first published, boy’s magazines were occupied with sound and mild natured works.
Anyway, I assume Tezuka fans older than I must have been confused at such Rock’s character. Because Rock was depicted as a diligent hero with a sense of justice in the works Tezuka created in 1940’s and 1950’s.
But such confusion lasted only for a while.Once the serialization started, we were fascinated by Rock, the character we had never seen in boy’s magazine then.
In the 2nd part of Vampire, which was serialized on “Shonen Book” later, Rock took the main character in most of the episodes.It showed how an evil character was typecast for Rock.
Before the birth of Michio Yuki
With the oncoming of 1970’s, adults became to read comics as baby-boomers grew up, and Manga became closely associated with the society. College students reading comics on the train were reported by news programs while a young hijacker claimed “We are the Ashita no Jo!”They put on an image of Joe in place of them.
Against the background of the time, Tezuka challenged to depict evils in humans from various angles and publish such works on young-adult comics whose market was gradually expanding then.
In “I.L.”(1969 – 1970) and “Human Metamorphosis”(1970 – 1971), he depicted humans’ lusts between sexes openly. In “Ode to Kirihito” (1970 – 1971), Tezuka revealed ugliness of humans.In this work, most of the characters barely expressed their egos and desires.All the evil characters in such works were ugly and ludicrous.Indeed, those works are satirical enough to point out original sin of humans.
In 1976, Tezuka created a picaresque character completely different from any other evils in his works.That is Michio Yuki in MW.
Tezuka depicted ugly sides of humans from various angles in the works above.
They were all published on “COM Extra Editions” from Mushi Pro Shoji.
Next time, I will study Tezuka’s ultimate picaresque comic “MW” and its background.Don’t miss it!
(To be continued)
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.