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Tezuka Osamu Manga Museum

TOMM the 11th Exhibition: The Jungle Emperor Leo Exhibition


In 1950, Tezuka Osamu, who had been active mainly in Osaka as an “Akahon” (red book) cartoonist, met Kato Kenichi, an editor at the Gakudosha publishing house, by chance in Tokyo. By that time, Kato had boosted the circulation of the “Shonen Club” magazine to one million and had founded the “Manga Shonen” magazine with the aim of developing new cartoonists. Looking at the pile of “Jungle Emperor Leo” manuscripts Tezuka Osamu had prepared, Kato invited him to publish the cartoon in “Manga Shonen” in serial form. Tezuka Osamu readily accepted Kato’s offer because he had wished to enter the arena of the cartoonist.

“Jungle Emperor Leo” was originally supposed to end happily, with Leo crowned as a king. Tezuka Osamu, however, was interested in the themes such as nostalgia for nature as well as the troubles and sorrows of living, which form the basis of the animated cartoon “Bambi,” released by Walt Disney Productions in 1951, and changed the theme of “Jungle Emperor Leo” to one of the eternity of nature: “Nature remains unchanged though all living creatures die and new lives continuously appear generation after generation.” A sense of impermanence, transience, or mutability and the idea of transmigration and rebirth were among some of Tezuka Osamu’s ideas that led to his subsequent works, including “The Phoenix” and “Buddha.” The serial publication of “Jungle Emperor Leo” continued until April 1954, making it a long cartoon consisting of more than 600 pages. Later, “Jungle Emperor Leo” was published in book form six times, and every time it was published, its plot was revised to the extent that even Tezuka Osamu himself did not seem to know which version was the most authentic one. Conversely, this indicates how attached Tezuka Osamu had become to “Jungle Emperor Leo.” Actually, it is said that when the manuscripts of “Jungle Emperor Leo” were lost in an accident, Tezuka Osamu cried out loud. This exhibition views “Jungle Emperor Leo,” included in Kodansha Publishers’ “The Complete Manga Works of Tezuka Osamu”-to which Tezuka Osamu made many revisions and compiled as his final version-and compares it with the first “Manga Shonen” version of the series to show which parts of the first version were changed and which remained unchanged. By doing so, it highlights Tezuka’s message “Nature remains unchanged despite all kinds of activity by living creatures.” Tezuka’s message here is, “Therefore, individual creatures should take control of their lives; they should also live a pursuing their ambitious goals until their death, facing the challenges of nature and having adventures.” The exhibition thus enables visitors to experience the world of “Jungle Emperor Leo” through the life of its central character.




Part 1: “Jungle Emperor Leo,” a roman-fleuve story

Although the story of “Jungle emperor Leo” was revised by Tezuka Osamu several times, it consists of the three major parts described below.


Part 1: From the death of Panja to Leo’s arrival in the jungle

Part 2: From Leo’s childhood and youth, during which he grows as the prince of the jungle and the leader of friends there

Part 3: From his marriage to Lyre and his activities as the father of two children to the end of his eventful life


The central theme that runs through all of these three parts is the lives of all creatures, including the interaction between humans and animals, between animals, and between humans. After learning about human civilization, Leo brings new ideas to the jungle, fighting unsupported with the aim of changing the law of jungle under which the stronger prey on the weaker. He also learns that there are good human beings and bad ones and, believing in friendship with the good ones, he himself heads for the unexplored Mountains of the Moon to search for “moonlight stones” that are believed to hold enormous amounts of energy. Meanwhile, humans who have fought over the moonlight stones cease to be hostile to one another when faced with the harshness of the power of nature, and work together to obtain them. When descending the mountain, however, they are caught in a severe snowstorm and eventually only Higeoyaji returns from the Mountains of the Moon as Leo sacrifices himself to rescue him. When Leo’s son, Lune, meets Higeoyaji, he understands the meaning of his father’s death. He then makes up his mind to become the Jungle Emperor, and returns to his father’s jungle. This basic plot has remained unchanged despite the repeated revisions.


Part 1 uses special panel displays to enable the visitors to visually experience the saga “Jungle Emperor Leo.”


1. Prologue


A large valley runs from north to south between Egypt and Rhodesia, dividing the African continent into two parts. This is called the “Great Rift Valley.” On both sides of the valley stand Mt. Ruwenzori, Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mt. Elgon, and other soaring peaks, and in the valley runs the Nile, Africa’s longest river. There are large lakes such as Lake Victoria, Lake Tanganyika, Lake Nyasa, and all these form a wonderful natural environment. There are waterfalls and broad plateaus. There are also snow-capped mountains even though they are located right on the equator. Among these mountains are the legendary and mysterious “Mountains of the Moon.” The Mountains of the Moon were discovered by the explorer Sir Henry M. Stanley and subsequently surveyed by the Italian explorer the Duke of the Abruzzi and the British explorer Wales. These mountains form the setting of “Jungle Emperor Leo.” Africa was formerly called the “Dark Continent,” and its fields have witnessed endless battles among native peoples, animals, and nature, followed by the establishment of new independent states one after another. Even today, the animals of Africa cannot live in peace! Lions, giraffes, warthogs, antelopes, zebras, and other animals live in the savannahs. In particular, lions are beasts of the grasslands that never live in the jungle. There was, however, one exception…


2. The death of Panja


Panja lived in the woods and was the guardian of the jungle. He was gentle toward animals that lived in the woods, but hated those who were raised by human beings. Humans attempted to beat Panja in one way or other when their livestock was attacked, but Panja always outwitted them. One day, the hunter Ham-egg captured Panja’s wife, Eliza, and lured him out. Panja was trapped and killed. Eliza, who was taken captive, was sold to a zoo.


3. The birth of Leo


The captive Eliza is with child. On a ship bound for London, she gives birth to the baby Leo. Eliza tells Leo to return to Africa in order to take over the position of his father and become the king of the jungle. Little Leo dives into the sea in tears and heads for Africa.


4. Aden


Leo arrives in a city called Aden, not the jungle. In this city, he comes to know the world of humans and how animals lived in zoos. He also learns the notion of freedom, and thinks that he would like to live in the jungle as he pleases.


5. In Africa (1)


Together with people he becomes acquainted with in Aden, Leo returned to Africa in order to clarify the secret of the moonlight stones that are believed to hold enormous amounts of energy. In Africa, he is surprised at the chaotic state of the jungle and at the same time, he becomes aware of the blood of the wild that runs in his veins. In a village of native people, he finds the pelt of his deceased father, and in front of it grieves over the circumstances between human beings and animals.


6. In Africa (2)


The wild fellow of the jungle, Bubu, kills a deer in front of Leo in an effort to make the latter learn the law of the jungle under which the weak become the victim of the strong. Leo cannot help but be frightened at the sight of the slaughter. And he feels increasingly sad about the fact the he is a savage beast.


7. The woods of Leo


Encouraged by animals living in the jungle, Leo gets over the agony that he is a beast. As the animals rejoice at the return of the prince, he makes up his mind to change the jungle so that it becomes a comfortable place to live. The collaboration between Leo and his fellow animals begins, bringing the jungle to life.


8. Jungle Emperor


Panja’s son, Leo, now becomes the Jungle Emperor.


9. Encounter with Lyre


After some time passes, Leo grows up and encounters Lyre, who is to become his companion for life. Leo fights a life-or-death battle with Bubu over Lyre.


10. Marriage and the birth of children


Leo wins in the battle with Bubu and marries Lyre, and two children are born between them.


11. Lune and Lukio


Of the two children, the boy is named “Lune” and the girl “Lukio.” Lune longs more and more for the world of human beings.


12. The dream of Lune


Lune, with a strong yearning for the world of human beings, leaves the jungle. Later, becomes the star of a circus.


13. Death spot disease


An epidemic called “death spot disease” spreads throughout the jungle. Although only animals contract this disease, those who develop it all die. Among Leo’s family members, Lyre, who has been worried about Lune’s disappearance from home, shows the symptoms of the disease first and dies. Then Lukio also gets it, but the moonlight stone expedition produces serums and injects them into the animals to save the jungle from the danger of death spot disease.


14. Determination


Leo makes up his mind to guide the humans who saved the animals to the Mountains of the Moon. But he has not climbed the mountains before, and does not know how dangerous it might be.


15. Climbing the mountains


After overcoming several difficulties, the expedition succeeds in climbing the Mountains of the Moon and discovers moonlight stones there. Leo, however, became snow-blind due to the sunlight reflecting from the snow-covered mountains, and loses his eyesight.


16. Descent from the mountains in a snowstorm and the death of Leo


The expedition, which had put moonlight stones officially on record, is hit by a violent snowstorm when descending the mountains. In the snowstorm, the expedition members go astray one after another, get frostbite, and became unable to move. Finally, only Leo and Higeoyaji remain. As Higeoyaji runs out of food and loses his energy, Leo suggests that Higeoyaji eat him, put on his skin, and bring back the record of the moonlight stones for everyone to see.


17. New Jungle Emperor


Lune discovers that the city is a concrete jungle different from what he had imagined and learns from his experience in the circus company that there are good people and bad people in human society. One day, he works with animals to extinguish a fire in the circus tent, and as a reward for his efforts is allowed to return to Africa. On his way home, he is informed by a flying fish that his mother had died. And in the last scene of Part 1, he comes to know of his father’s death, and the story ends suggesting that Lune will become the new Jungle Emperor.



Part 2: Pursuing ambitious goals, facing the challenges of nature, and living life to the fullest

In the last scene of “Jungle Emperor Leo,” Tezuka Osamu asks, “Isn’t Africa absorbing all living creatures and calmly looking down upon those who take up the challenges of nature?” What does this question mean? One interpretation is that he seemed to praise the grandeur of the power of nature, and another is that he expounds on the evanescence of all activities by living creatures. Hidden behind this question seems to be Tezuka’s message that “All activity of living creatures may be insignificant before the power of Mother Nature. Exactly because of this, all individuals should pursue ambitious goals, face the challenges of nature, and live life to the fullest.” Therefore, Part 2 verifies his message by exhibiting Tezuka’s handwritten manuscripts centered on the portion of the plot that depicts the forward-looking lives of Leo and other characters.




A storm hits when Leo dives into the sea to returns to Africa, and this storm takes the life of his mother, Eliza. After the storm passes, he is crying alone on the sea missing his dead mother when he sees an image of her in the starry sky and promises not to cry any more.




In the world of humans, when Leo visits a zoo, he finds his fellow animals caged in. He things that like human beings, animals should have the right to live as they please, and he tells Jack, a mouse, that he wants to call animals from all the zoos in the world to Africa in order to live together harmoniously. When Leo comes back to Africa for the first time in his life, however, he is disappointed to find his home extremely barbarous compared to the world of humans.




When Leo, the son of Panja, returns to the jungle, the animals greet him with great joy. But to Leo, who had lived in the world of humans, the jungle is not a very comfortable place to live in. Leo calls on the animals to work together to clear the woods, build roads, and cultivate fields.




Kenichi is dejected because Janguras has taken Merry away. Leo hits upon the idea of having Kenichi listen to music in order to console him in his sorrow. When the animals sing in unison under Leo’s baton, their beautiful songs echo throughout the jungle.




Lune, who had been reared in the jungle, yearns for the human world. His wish to visit human society is not granted by his mother Lyre. Every time he is told not to venture out, his yearning for grows in his mind. Finally, Lune leaves the jungle without telling his parents and travels to the world of human beings alone.




In order to cheer up Lyre, who had been dispirited because Lune is gone, the animals in the jungle start to build a temple. They cooperate to level the ground, pile up stones and finally complete the temple.




Lune, who yearns for the world of human beings, leaves the jungle. He starts to live in the human world but realizes that the jungle where he was born was a truly beautiful and quiet place.




Moonlight stones are believed to have such great power that they can move even a continent. An expedition starts to ascend the unexplored Mountains of the Moon, which is full of moonlight stones, in order to unveil their secrets. They finally succeed in climbing the mountains after overcoming various difficulties such as attacks by dinosaurs and violent snowstorms.



Part 3: A comparison of the first edition of “Jungle emperor Leo” with its final edition

In the postscript to “Jungle emperor Leo” included in “The Complete Manga Works of Tezuka Osamu,” which was published by Kodansha, Tezuka Osamu wrote that “Jungle Emperor Leo” was published in book form as many as six times and that every time a new edition of the work was published, its story was revised, making it impossible for even him to determine which of the existing editions had the true original plot. He also wrote that when it was decided that “Jungle Emperor Leo” would be adapted for television during the Mushi Production period, one of the staff brought Tezuka’s manuscripts with him for research and lost them, forcing Tezuka Osamu to write the majority of the first half of the work again. Meanwhile, 15 years had passed since he had written the originals. Apart from the loss of manuscripts and other accidents, how different is the final edition of “Jungle Emperor Leo” available to us today from its first edition, which the young Tezuka Osamu produced with all his youthful energy?


Part 3 verifies the changes that Tezuka Osamu underwent during the 15-year period by exhibiting the clear differences between the first edition of “Jungle Emperor Leo,” which was reissued by the Tezuka Osamu fan club in Kyoto, and its final edition for comparison.




Who taught Leo how to swim when he dived into the sea to return to Africa? In this respect, there is a big difference between the first and final editions. In the first edition, at the call of a sucking fish, various marine creatures give him swimming lessons. He even learns from a sea gull how to fly in the sky, and this experience is helpful when he fights with his long-standing rival, Bubu, for the first time. In the final edition, meanwhile, Leo is attacked by a shark in the sea. After the battle, the shark is defeated and gives Leo a sucking fish that had been attached to its ventral side and instructs him to swim with the fish attached to his body. This is how Leo learns to swim.




Leo fights a life-or-death fight with Katame over Lyre. There is no difference in the development of story between the first and final editions. The depiction of the scene in the first edition, however, forms a marked contrast with that in the final edition. In the final edition, the story advances in the form of scenes in the same way as in other pages while in the first edition; Tezuka Osamu used a picture story format.




A child is being born between Leo and Lyre. Leo, who is waiting outside, is worried and loafs about restlessly. The readers may not find a big difference in the depiction of this scene between the first and final editions, but it is clear that the first edition consists of four pages while the number of pages used in the final edition doubled to eight. Compare the two closely to find what changed and how.




There is a scene in which Lune encounters humans for the first time. In order to rescue Pete, Adam, and other persons who have had an accident, he asks a sea gull to go and call a rescue boat. In the first edition, Lune writes down the characters “SOS ” directly on the sea gull’s wing and asked the bird to fly to the boat. In the final edition, however, the sea gull flies to the boat with Pete’s cap in its mouth. Looking at the cap held in the mouth of the sea gull and realizing that there were people who needed to be rescued, the crew of the boat follows the sea gull, discovering Adam and the others, and rescues them.




Leo makes up his mind to return to Africa and is going to dive into the sea. A newborn, he now takes his first step to become the Jungle Emperor. This scene consisted of only one page in the first edition while it was depicted using four pages in the final edition.




This is the impressive scene in which the expedition conquers the Mountains of the Moon. For both the first and final editions, the manuscript of this scene was prepared in black and white, but the scene in the first edition was printed in color when published in the “Manga Shonen” magazine. What subtle changes occurred when the scene was printed in color? Enjoy the difference by comparing the two.




This shows the last page of this story. Look at how the words that conclude the story of “Jungle Emperor Leo” in the first edition are different from those in the final edition. Also look at the words Tezuka Osamu added to the bottom of the first edition’s last page when he finished.


Additional (1)


Leo and his fellow animals are attacked by animals that followed the Janguras. This is a battle between animals. When Leo hides Lyre behind the grass and heads off to fight, he recalls his father, Panja. There are some differences between the first and final editions as exemplified by the fact that in the first edition, Leo is told by Panja to fight admirably while in the final edition, Leo pledges to his father his determination to protect the jungle. This impressive scene was colored when the first edition was printed. For this reason, visitors might want to compare this with the final edition.


Additional (2)


Leo and his fellow animals are attacked by animals that followed the Janguras. This is a battle between animals. When Leo hides Lyre behind the grass and heads off to fight, he recalls his father, Panja. There are some differences between the first and final editions as exemplified by the fact that in the first edition, Leo is told by Panja to fight admirably while in the final edition, Leo pledges to his father his determination to protect the jungle. This impressive scene was colored when the first edition was printed. For this reason, visitors might want to compare this with the final edition.


Additional (3)


Kutta works with Ham-egg to catch Panja in a trap and kill him. Yet even the villainous Kutta was once so gentle that he pulled up Leo onto his own raft. What happened to Kutta after he parted with Leo on the sea? In the final edition, there is no depiction of what happened to Kutta. In the first edition, however, Kutta is seen having sailed on safely. Look at Kutta’s safe voyage and his subsequent mysterious encounter with Leo’s son, Lune.



Part 4: Japan’s first color animated cartoon program “Jungle Emperor Leo”

“Jungle Emperor Leo” appeared in 1965 as Japan’s first color animated cartoon TV program. Together with “Astro Boy,” it became one of the major works of Mushi Production, but in order to have children understand the long story of the original work in its TV version, consideration was given to making the animated cartoon cheerful and easy to understand by, for example, adopting musical comedy production methods and portraying exchanges among the animals as light and cheerful.


Part 4 puts together the distinctive features of the animated cartoon “Jungle Emperor Leo” in several videotapes for visual verification.


Differences between the original work of “Jungle Emperor Leo” and its animated cartoon version


The video being presented here represents the second half of the last installment of the serialized TV program “New Jungle Emperor Leo: Go Ahead, Leo!” The last installment was broadcast on March 29, 1967. The last scene in which the parents and two children, including Leo and Lune, who have returned safe from the Mountains of the Moon, are running on the savannah is quite impressive. In the last scene of the original work of “Jungle Emperor Leo,” however, Leo dies. Only Higeoyaji returns from the Mountains of the Moon and then meets Lune for the first time. The TV animated cartoon series “New Jungle Emperor Leo: Go Ahead, Leo!” greatly differs from its original work in several respects. In addition to difference in the last installment of the series, Lune leaves the jungle to live in the world of human beings alone in the original work, while in the animated cartoon version he remains in the jungle until his death. Moreover, Lyre contracts death spot disease and dies in the original work, while in the animated cartoon version, she becomes ill but her life is saved. The animated cartoon version comes to a happy ending while taking over the roman-fleuve elements of the original work. This is because the producers of the animated cartoon version were targeting children.


Three-dimensional structure with monitors embedded in the Mountains of the Moon


While the original cartoon “Jungle Emperor Leo,” a saga of Leo’s family, was targeted at adults, the main target audience of its animated cartoon version was elementary school students, and the producers gave much consideration to this fact in terms of the content of story and visual expression. With respect to visuals, graphics were used for the background as much as possible to simplify the depiction of nature. Also, many primary colors were used to represent the ethnic quality of the African continent. Thus the producers succeeded in creating an atmosphere appropriate to child viewers.