What kind of works do people firstly imagine among many of Tezuka’s works? A lot of them will imagine a story of a hero fighting with a sense of justice or a drama filled with humanity. Surely 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.
The impact of homosexuality
In MW, Michio Yuki is not motivated by his personal revenge or lust when he commits crimes. At least, such personal desire does not build the core of his motive. He is sort of a genuine evil. So to speak, he is a direct descendent of Rock in Vampire.
Plus, MW was created free from the constraint applied to juvenile magazines; therefore, the evil acts could be depicted in more direct ways.
What was the most shocking about the work? It was that the work featured homosexuality as one of its main themes. Actually people regarded homosexuality as big taboo to such an extent that we can not imagine now.
In pre-modern Japan, homosexuality was accepted as one form of sex cultures in open fashion.It, however, became to be abominated along with the westernization of Japanese society after Meiji Period. Especially it could be said that the society was the most intolerant to homosexuality in the 70’s.
Homosexual relationship between Yuki and Garai is depicted in a metaphorical way in the movie “MW”. Meanwhile we should not pass over the social circumstances surrounding homosexuality when the original manga work was published in order to understand it.
Why did Garai become a priest, withdrawing from the world? Why did he still have a part in Yuki’s evil acts, despite suffering from a guilty conscience? The answer locates in the society which considered homosexuality as taboo.
Above are the color cover arts when serialized. Two-color cover arts appeared four times during the serialization.
There was no cover art for the last episode when it was serialized. Instead the first four pages were printed in two colors, since the title was incorporated in the main knitting.
Utilization of actual events on time
In MW, social situations as well as social backgrounds cut off from the real life are incorporated effectively. Now let me introduce some examples.
The topics about poisoned chocolate and coke were treated in the scene that Garai worries Yuki’s indiscriminate murder plan, which were based on the actual cases happened in January and February respectively in Tokyo. These topics appear in the middle of vol. 2 of Tezuka Osamu Complete Works (Kodansha Edition).
In January 1977, a high school boy who drank coke left in the telephone box died in Shinagawa, Tokyo and a 47 years old man was found dead nearby.It is found that both of them were died due to hydro cyanic acid contained in coke.
On February 14, Valentine day on the same year, a bag with a lot of chocolate was found at Tokyo station. Since something was odd about the package, the manufacturer checked the chocolate to find lethal doses of hydro cyanic acid from each package of the chocolate.
Tezuka published the episode in which he incorporated these accidents in Big Comic, March 10 issue. Surprisingly it was only a month after the actual accident had happened.
Indeed, such well-timed fashion is one of Tezuka manga’s attractions. I recommend you to focus on such point when you read Tezuka manga next time.
By the way, both cases have not been unsolved yet, running out the statue of limitation in 1992.
Actual fear of toxic gas discharge
The story of MW begins with the discharge of toxic gas called MW in Okino-MabuneIsland. This story is also modeled after the actual accident.
In July 1969, seven years before the serialization of MW, there was an accident that twenty four US solders were hospitalized due to the toxic gas leakage from Chibana Ammunition Depot in U.S. base in Okinawa.
Those leaked gases were lethal nerve gases such as VX gas and sarin gas (they were called GB gas then). It was also disclosed that more than 13 thousand tons gasses including tear gases such as CN, CS and DM, were stored at the site.
When the serialization of MW started, the fear of toxic gas discharge was not fiction for people.
The article reported the toxic gas leakage from US base in Okinawa. (Shukan Bunshu, August 11, 1969 issue) The accident reminded us of the fear of toxic gases.
Also, Tezuka made radical young terrorists used by Yuki appear in the scene contained in the end of the vol. 1 and the beginning of vol. 2 of Tezuka Osamu Complete Works (Kodansha Edition). This scene was also based on the actual serial bombings which caused a disturbance to the public then.
From 1974 to 1975, a radical terrorist group proclaiming itself East-Asian Anti-Japan Armed Front committed serial bomb attacks against private companies.
The first attack was committed on August 30, 1974. The group bombed the headquarters of Mitsubisi Heavy Industry in Marunouchi, Tokyo.It was in the early afternoon. At 12:45 p.m., a time bomb set at the entrance of the building exploded, which resulted to kill eight people and injure 385 others.
At that time, most of the business functions of Tokyo were concentrated in Marunouchi and Otemachi areas where a lot of business persons were working. Therefore, it was a very shocking accident for people living in Tokyo.
Shukan Asahi, September 13, 1974 issue covered the accident. The picture of blood-soaked office workers is too graphic.
What’s the meaning that Yuki was revived in the modern world?
Tezuka created an unprecedented evil, Michio Yuki, by combining several actual events which seems unrelated at a glance.
To tell the truth, I personally thought that a lot of people were intolerant to the character when the work was serialized since he is extremely evil. People must have thought, “Such evil never exists in reality” or “he is too extreme”. I did not have a feeling of such rejection against Yuki since I have a yarning to Rock in Vampire. But, even for me, it was impossible to understand what Yuki had in mind.
Tezuka changed the original order of episodes or cut some pages boldly when the work after Episode 21 was published in the form of comic books.
Among such cut pages, there was a scene Tezuka Osamu himself appeared.He appeared just around the scene that Yuki helped a master of safecracker escape from jail.
Ten years later from the serialization, Aum Shinrikyo committed indiscriminate killing of citizens. The killers were impudent enough to be on TV without hesitation despite their evil act. Yes, we surely witnessed Michio Yuki in them. The evil Tezuka created did exist in real world.
A few decades have passed since then.It’s been 30 years since the first serialization of MW. Now we live in the world filled with uncertainties and fears, which is different from the age of MW or the age we experienced the Aum attack.
Michio Yuki has revived in the modern world along with the arrival of the movie “MW”. What’s he trying to convey us now?
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.