Osamu Tezuka was a Japanese manga, artist, cartoonist, animator, film producer, and activist. He was born in Osaka Prefecture and is best known as the creator of the comics’ series Astro Boy, Kimba the white lion, Black Jack and Phoenix. His pioneering techniques, prolific outputs and innovative redefinitions of genres earned him such titles as the: father of manga” the “godfather of manga” and also the “god of manga”.
Osamu Tezuka was born on 3rd of November in 1928 in Toyonaka, Osaka Japan. He was the eldest son of three children in Toyonaka City, Osaka. His nickname was gashagsha-atama where gashagasha means messy and atama means the head. He was ever confident as his mother always comforted him by asking him to kook at the blue skies. He was also always inspired by his mother’s stories and thus improved his creativity. He grew up in the same city and was always taken to the theater by his mother. The Takarazuka Revue is a performance by women inclusive of male characters. It is well known due to its romantic musicals that is usually aimed at female audience and therefore had a great impact in the future works of Tezuka including his costuming designs. He said he had a profound “spirit of nostalgia” for Takarazuka.
He started to draw comics around his second tear of elementary school. At around his fifth year he found a bug named “Osamushi”. It was so close to sound like his name and he therefore adopted the name for his pen name. Later he realized that he could use Manga as a means of helping to convince people to take care for the World. After the Second World War two he created his first piece of work, Diary of Ma-chan and then Shin Takarajima (new Treasure Island) which began the golden age of manga a craze comfortable to American Comic Books at the time he was 17years. He had ever been accused of racism after he drew blacks in stereotypical fashion but instead that he was only continuing the styles he saw in the American comics and films. The point has often been a source of constant soul searching among Tezuka’s publishers especially in the USA. As of 2003, the Dark Horse has begun to publish Tezuka’s manga wholly unedited in the U.S adding a disclaimer that Tezuka was not a racist himself, his artwork was a product of its time and that further that it would be wrong to retroactively change his works without his inputs.
When Osaka Tezuka was seven he joined Osaka Municipal Ikeda Elementary school where he was bullied due to his diminutive stature. Osamu attended a progressive school where classes were co-ed. He was a bright student who always excelled in composition writing which makes him a good movie writer. Osamu was very popular amongst other students for his manga sketches. He produced his first manga when he was nine years old. He entered Osaka University’s medical division in the year 1945 and graduates in the year 1951. Despite his many activities such as acting and playing the piano he always pursued through school and beyond and still continued to draw.
After closely losing both arms to an infection he even decided to study medicine due to the doctor who treated him. He graduated from Osaka University and obtained his medical degree but later used his medical and scientific knowledge to enrich his Sci-Fi manga such as Black Jack. in 1952 he passes the exam to become a practicing physician. His heart however was more into visual arts than sciences, medicine.
His complete outputs are over 700 volumes with more than 15000 pages. When he was younger his hand swelled up and became ill but was treated by a doctor which made him to want to become a doctor. He however began his career as a manga artist while still a university student drawing his first professional work while at school still. So once he asked his mother whether to take on as a manga artist for full time or to start to study to be a doctor. The manga work was not quite rewarding at that time and so the mother who wanted him to make his own decision tells him to work doing the job he likes most. Therefore he decided to take on manga for full time basis. He graduated from Osaka University and obtained his medical degree but later used his medical and scientific knowledge to enrich his Sci-Fi manga such as Black Jack. His life’s work was Phoenix a story of life and death that he began in the 1950s and continued until his death.
In January 1965 he received a letter from an American Film Director who watched Astro Boy and wanted him to be the art director of his next movie, 2001: a space odyssey (1968). He however turned the letter down as he could not be able to live his studio to go and live in England for a year despite being flattered by Kubrick’s invitation. He loved the film and often played the soundtracks at maximum volume in his studio to keep him awake during the long nights when he was sleepless despite that he was not going to work on it.
Many young manga artists once lived in the same apartment as where Tezuka loved, Tokiwaso. The residents included Sotaro Shinomiri, Fujio Akatsuka and Abiko Motou and Hiroshi Fujimoto who worked together with and under the pen name Fujiko Fujio.
His early works included manga versions of Disney movies such as Bambi. His work like that of other manga artists was sometimes abrasive and violent. He headed the animation production studio Mushi Production which pioneered TV animation in Japan. The distinctive “large eyes” style of Japanese animation was an invention by Tezuka drawing inspiration from western cartoons and animated films of that time such as Betty Boop, Mickey Mouse and the other cartoon Disney movies.
Jungle Taitei (Jungle Emperor)
Tetsuwan ATOM (Astro Boy)
Ribon no Kishi (Princess Knight)
Hi no Tori (The Phoenix)
He was an agnostic in belief however he was buried in a Buddhist cemetery in Japan.
He was not in any way related to politics. He stayed away from politics all his life, however remained entertaining kids and grown-ups with his work. He hasn't shared or talked much about his political stance in any of his interviews.
Osamu was a very polite and well mannered person who loved to entertain people with his work. He created the most and loved illustrations in the history of Japan. He always wanted to keep everyone happy and worked toward it until his death.
Osamu Tezuka died on 9th February in 1989 due to stomach ulcers in Tokyo. He said the last words as “am begging you, let me work”. His death which came after two weeks received almost as much attention as that of the Japanese Emperor who had died before the two weeks. The city of Takarazuka, Hyogo where he grew up opened a museum in his memory. Stamps were issued in his honor in the year 1997, the Japanese toy company Kaiyodo began manufacturing series of figurines of Tezuka creations that include:
• Princess knight
• The phoenix
• Marvelous melmo
• Ambassador Magma and many others.
Up to date three series of the figurines have been released.
His legacy is still honored among Manga artists and animators. Some of the artists like Hayao Miyazaki (spirited away) and Akira Toriyama (Dr. Slump and dragon ball) has cited Tezuka as inspiration for their works. From 2003 to 2009 Naoki Urasawa and Takashi Nagasaki adapted an arc of Astro Boy into the murder mystery series of Pluto.
Tezuka was a personal friend of Brazilian comic book artists Mauricio de Sousa. In 2012, Mauricio published a two-issue story arc in the Monica Teen comic book featuring some of Tezuka’s main characters such as Astro Boy, Black Jack, Sapphire and Kimba, joining Monica and her friends in an adventure in the Amazon rainforest against a smuggling Organization cutting down hundreds of trees.
It was the first time that Tezuka Production allowed overseas artists to use Tezuka’s characters. .He enjoyed Walt Disney in person at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. He stated that Disney wanted to9 hire him for a potential science fiction project in a 1986 entry into the personal diary. He was also a fan of superman and was, made honorary chairman of the superman Fan Club in Japan.
: He was a well mannered well-dressed man who could possibly pass by you silently without being noticed. He is mainly known for his creations and the joy he brought into the millions of people who enjoyed his creations.
“Manga is virtual. Manga is sentiment. Manga is resistance. Manga is bizarre. Manga is pathos. Manga is destruction. Manga is arrogance. Manga is love. Manga is kitsch. Manga is sense of wonder. Manga is … there is no conclusion yet.”
bug collecting, entomology. baseball
Tezuka is a descendant of Hattori Hanzo a famous ninja and samurai who faithfully served Tokugawa Ieyasu during the Sengoku period in Japan and Fumiliko Tezuka. His son Macoto Yezuka became a film and anime director. He had married Etsuko Okada in the year 1959 whom he had three children. Osamu Tezuka was the first born child of to Yutaka and Fumiliko Tezuka who were very strict and disciplinarians but also supportive and encouraging of their children’s interest.
Manga: 60 Years of Japanese Comics.by Paul Gravett