Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Buddha by Osamu Tezuka

I'm going to keep using graphic novels until I can no longer justify it with the fact that I read long novels.

This was awful. I’d heard of this series a while back, heralded as an exemplary, powerful graphic novel representation of the biography of the Buddha. Tezuka is supposed to be the father of Japanese graphic novels. If that’s true, I have no desire to read any Japanese graphic novels.

He wrote Buddha when graphic novels were still mostly a children’s medium, so it’s annoyingly juvenile. There’s a lot of humor that you’d expect from a Saturday morning cartoon. The story consisted of very loosely linked episodic plots, and only just began to talk about the Buddha. There are six more volumes that I don’t plan on reading. Just when I’d expect it to develop into a mature novel, someone would get hit in the crotch with something. A lot of stupid anachronistic jokes, like a pack of cigarettes falling from a monk’s pocket, a yeti, and a cameo appearance by the author (in doctor uniform) don’t quite make this the “insightful, amazing” work that was promised.

The only redeeming quality about the art was the few landscape scenes. These were truly impressive. For everything else, anatomy was way off, faces were amateur and inexpressive, and I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen a horse do a front flip, especially not with a rider on its back.

Bad art aside, I wondered if maybe it was the translation that made this book so bad, until I came to this wonderful piece of work:

“Look… heh, heh, we’ve been pierced through. But it’s better like this… skewered together… don’t you think, mother?”

“We’ll never be parted again… never…”

There is no language on earth that could keep that from sounding stupid.

If you promise not to tell anyone that I read this, I promise not to make you read it.

3 comments:

Carlton said...

This sounds hilariously bad. So much so, that I kind of want to read it.

Christopher said...

Good review

Nathan said...

Please feel free to borrow it any time you want.