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Osamu Tezuka (手塚 治虫 Tezuka Osamu?, November 3, 1928 – February 9, 1989) was a Japanese manga artist, animator, producer and medical doctor, although he never practiced medicine. Born in Osaka Prefecture, he is best known as the creator of Astro Boy, Kimba the White Lion and Black Jack. He is often credited as the "Godfather of Anime", and is often considered the Japanese equivalent to Walt Disney, who served as a major inspiration during his formative years.[1] His prolific output, pioneering techniques, and innovative redefinitions of genres earned him such titles as "the father of manga", "the god of comics"[2] and "kamisama of manga".[3] His grave is located in Tokyo's Souzen-ji Temple Cemetery.

Early life

File:Tezuka as a boy.jpg

Tezuka as a child

Osamu was born, as the eldest son of three children of Tezuka family, on November 3, 1928, in Toyonaka City, Osaka.[4][5] His nickname was gashagasha-atama (gashagasha is slang for messy, atama means head). His mother often comforted him by telling him to look to the blue skies, giving him confidence. His mother's stories inspired his creativity as well. Tezuka grew up in Kobe and his mother often took him to the Takarazuka Theatre in the city of Takarazuka. The Takarazuka Revue that performed at the theatre is made up in its entirety of women, and so male characters are also played by women. The Takarazuka Revue is known for its romantic musicals usually aimed at a female audience, thus having a large impact on the later works of Tezuka, including his costuming designs. He has said that he has a profound "spirit of nostalgia" for Takarazuka.[6] His animation production company was named Mushi (insect) Production.[7]

He started to draw comics around his second year of elementary school. Around his fifth year he found a bug named "Osamushi". It so resembled his name that he adopted osamushi as his pen name. He came to the realization that he could use manga as a means of helping to convince people to care for the world. After World War II, he created his first piece of work (at age 17), Diary of Ma-chan and then Shin Takarajima (New Treasure Island), which began the golden age of manga, a craze comparable to American comic books at the time.[8] Japanese mangaka call him "Manga-no-kami sama."


The distinctive "large eyes" style of Japanese animation was invented by Tezuka,[9] drawing inspirations on cartoons of the time such as Betty Boop and Walt Disney's Bambi and Mickey Mouse. As an indication of his productivity, the Complete Manga Works of Tezuka Osamu (手塚治虫漫画全集, published in Japan) comprises some 400 volumes, over 80,000 pages; even so, it is not comprehensive. In fact, his complete oeuvre includes over 700 manga with more than 150,000 pages.[10][11] However, the vast majority of his work has never been translated from the original Japanese and is thus inaccessible to people who do not read Japanese.

When he was younger, Tezuka's arms swelled up and he became ill. He was treated and cured by a doctor which made him want to be a doctor. However, he began his career as a manga artist while a university student, drawing his first professional work while at school. At a crossing point, he asked his mother whether he should look into doing manga full time or whether he should become a doctor. This was a really serious question since, at the time, being a manga author was not a particularly rewarding job. The answer his mother gave was: "You should work doing the thing you like most of all." Tezuka decided to devote himself to manga creation on a full-time basis. He graduated from Osaka University and obtained his medical degree, but he would later use his medical and scientific knowledge to enrich his sci-fi manga, such as Black Jack.[11][12]

His creations include Astro Boy (Tetsuwan Atomu in Japan, literally translated to "Iron-armed Atom"), Black Jack, Princess Knight, Phoenix (Hi no Tori in Japan), Kimba the White Lion, Adolf and Buddha. His "life's work" was Phoenix — a story of life and death that he began in the 1950s and continued until his death.[13]

In January 1965, Tezuka received a letter from Stanley Kubrick, who had watched Astro Boy and wanted to invite Tezuka to be the art director of his next movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. Tezuka couldn't afford to leave his studio for an entire year to live in England, so he refused the invitation. Though he couldn't work on it, he loved the movie, and would play its soundtrack at maximum volume in his studio to keep him awake during the long nights of work.[14][15]

Tezuka headed the animation production studio Mushi Production ("Bug Production"), which pioneered TV animation in Japan.[7] The name of the studio derives from one of the kanji (虫 - Japanese reading: mushi, English meaning: bug,insect) used to write his name.

Many young manga artists once lived in the apartment where Tezuka lived, Tokiwa-so. (As the suffix -so indicates, this was probably a small, inexpensive apartment.) The residents included Shotaro Ishinomori; Fujio Akatsuka; and Abiko Motou and Hiroshi Fujimoto (who worked together under the pen name Fujiko Fujio).[16][17]

He was a personal friend (and apparent artistic influence) of Brazilian comic book artist Mauricio de Sousa.

Tezuka died of stomach cancer on February 9, 1989, at the age of 60.[18] His death came about one month after the death of Hirohito, the Shōwa Emperor of Japan. In an afterword written by Takayuki Matsutani, president of Mushi Productions, that was published in Viz Media's English language release of the Hi no Tori manga, it is said that his last words were, "I'm begging you, let me work!"

The city of Takarazuka, Hyōgo, where Tezuka grew up, opened a museum in his memory.[5] Stamps were issued in his honor in 1997. Also, beginning in 2003 the Japanese toy company Kaiyodo began manufacturing a series of highly detailed figurines of Tezuka's creations, including Princess Knight, Unico, the Phoenix, Dororo, Marvelous Melmo, Ambassador Magma and many others. To date three series of the figurines have been released. A separate Astro Boy series of figurines has also been issued, and enjoying continuing popularity for fans throughout Japan are annual Tezuka calendars with some of Tezuka's most famous artwork.


Tezuka is known for his imaginative stories and stylized Japanese adaptations of western literature. He loved reading novels and watching films that came from the West. His early art style was basic and inspired by Disney, whom he greatly admired. Tezuka's early works included manga versions of Disney movies such as Bambi.[19] His work, like that of other manga creators, was sometimes gritty and violent. However, he stayed away from graphic violence in some titles such as Astro Boy.


Selected manga and anime

For a more complete list, see List of Osamu Tezuka manga and List of Osamu Tezuka anime

The years cited beside each title refer to the period of manga serialization.

  • Metropolis, 1949. One of Tezuka's early science fiction works, about a private detective, Higeoyaji, who tries to take care of Mitchy, a gender switching robot, after its creator is killed. It would be made into a 2001 animated film. The 2001 film was heavily influenced by the Fritz Lang film Metropolis, as well as Tezuka's manga. It is said that Tezuka never even saw the 1927 film but was inspired by the poster of the film.
  • Jungle Taitei (Jungle Emperor), 1950–54. Better known by these other names in the English speaking world as Kimba the White Lion, this manga established one of Tezuka's most iconic creations. His first full-scale long serial, Jungle Taitei follows the adventures of Leo the white lion as he seeks to succeed his father, killed by a hunter, as king of the jungle. In 1965, Tezuka's Mushi Productions, financed by NBC Enterprises, produced a 52-episode anime series loosely based on the manga.[7] This was followed immediately by a 26-episode sequel, produced by Mushi Productions alone. This sequel was dubbed into English in 1984 under the title Leo the Lion. A full-length animated film based on the last half of Tezuka's original manga was released theatrically in 1997 under the title Jungle Emperor Leo. A New 30 minute short was shown on Fuji TV on September 5, 2009. It was directed by Goro Taniguchi creator of Code Geass and Planetes.
  • Tetsuwan ATOM (Astro Boy), 1952–68. A sequel to Captain ATOM (1951), with Atom (Atomu in Japanese, renamed Astro Boy in the U.S.)[22] as its main character. Eventually, Astro Boy would become Tezuka's most famous creation. He created the nuclear-powered, yet peace-loving, boy robot first after being punched in the face by a drunken GI.[22] In 1963, Astro Boy made its debut as the first domestically produced animated program on Japanese television. The 30-minute weekly program (of which 193 episodes were produced) led to the first craze for anime in Japan.[citation needed] In America, the TV series (which consisted of 104 episodes licensed from the Japanese run) was also a hit,[citation needed] becoming the first Japanese animation to be shown on U.S. television, although the U.S. producers downplayed and disguised the show's Japanese origins.[citation needed] Several other Astro Boy series have been made since, as well as a 2009 CGI-animated feature film Astro Boy.
  • Ribon no Kishi (Princess Knight), 1953–56. A gender-bending adventure drama about Princess Sapphire, a girl who must pretend to be a boy—and whose body, in fact, has two human hearts; a boy's and a girl's. The manga was inspired by the themes and styles of musicals by the all-girl Takarazuka Revue, which Tezuka had watched in his youth. Ribon no Kishi itself established many of the themes and styles of later shōjo manga (girls' manga), such as its affinity for androgynous heroes, and is sometimes referred to as "the Mother of all shōjo manga." It was made into an anime TV series in 1967, and the anime has been dubbed into English and sporadically broadcast on TV in the United States and other English-speaking countries; also known in English as Choppy and the Princess. The series was the first anime produced in color, and the quality of the show's art is still impressive, even today. In spite of the series' obscurity in the United States due to legal and distribution problems, the series has turned out to be one of Tezuka's most popular creations practically everywhere else. It's known in Spanish-speaking countries as La princesa caballero, in Germany as Choppy und die Prinzessin, in Italy as La Principessa Zaffiro, in Portugal and Brazil as Princesa e o Cavaleiro, in France as "Prince Saphir" and in Poland under no less than five different titles, including Czopi i Księżniczka. A new musical version of Princess Knight was performed in August 2006 starring the members of the all-female pop group Morning Musume. An excerpt from the manga will be published in the June 19, 2007 issue of Shojo Beat from VIZ. The entire manga had previously been released in bilingual (English/Japanese) volumes from Kodansha Bilingual Comics. It is unknown if VIZ and/or Shojo Beat will continue the series. Although Shojo Beat is owned by VIZ, there is a chance that the manga will only be published in tankōbon.
  • Hi no Tori (Phoenix), 1956–89. Tezuka's most profound and ambitious work, dealing with man's quest for immortality, ranging from the distant past to the far future. The central character is the Phoenix, the physical manifestation of the cosmos, who carries within itself the power of immortality; either granted by the Phoenix or taken from the Phoenix by drinking a small amount of its blood. Other characters appear and reappear throughout the series; usually due to their reincarnation. The work remained unfinished at the time of Tezuka's death in 1989. Phoenix has been filmed several times, most notably as Phoenix 2772 (1980).
  • Twin Knight, 1958. Twin Knight was a sequel to Princess Knight, and takes place several years after the end of the original series. In Twin Knight Princess Sapphire is now Queen Sapphire and is married to Frantz, her love interest in the original series. The main characters in Twin Knight are the twin children of Sapphire and Frantz, Prince Daisy and Princess Violetta. In keeping with the theme of the original series, following Prince Daisy's kidnapping, Princess Violetta must pretend to be both of them, all the while trying to discover the whereabouts of her brother. Although Twin Knight was originally published under the same Ribon no Kishi title during its short run, the title was changed in 1960 when the series was collected into a single volume. Ever since then it has been regarded as a separate series. No television version has ever been produced.
  • Kureopatora (Cleopatra: Queen of Sex), 1970. Kureopatora holds an unusual position among Tezuka's works since it's the most explicitly sexual project he ever attempted.[citation needed] When the film was released in the United States, American distributors slapped on the title Cleopatra: Queen of Sex and released it with a self-applied X rating in an attempt to cash in on the success of Fritz the Cat. In actuality, the film had not been submitted to the MPAA, and it is considered to be highly unlikely that it would have received an X rating if it had been submitted. One critic described it as "kid stuff with naked breasts.."[23] The movie told the story of Cleopatra and her numerous romantic encounters with Julius Caesar and the other men in her life. The film was not a success in Japan (partly due to financial troubles Tezuka's film company was having at the time), and is rarely seen today.
  • Black Jack, 1973–83. The story of Black Jack, a talented surgeon who operates illegally, using radical and supernatural techniques to combat rare afflictions. Black Jack received the Japan Cartoonists' Association Special Award in 1975 and the Koudansha Manga Award in 1977. Three Black Jack TV movies were released between 2000-01. In fall 2004, a TV anime was aired in Japan with 61 episodes, releasing another movie afterward. A new series, titled Black Jack 21, started broadcasting on April 10, 2006. In September 2008, the first volume of the manga had been published in English by Vertical Publishing and more volumes are being published to this day.

The Museum

The Osamu Tezuka Manga Museum (宝塚市立手塚治虫記念館, Takarazuka's Tezuka Osamu Memorial Hall) was inaugurated on April 25 of 1994 and has three floors (15069.47 ft²). In the basement there is an "Animation Workshop" in which visitors can make their own animations, and a mockup of the city of Takarazuka and a replica of the table where Osamu Tezuka worked.

On the ground floor on the way before the building's entrance, are imitations of the hands and feet of several characters from Tezuka (as in a true walk of fame) and on the inside, the entry hall, a replica of Princess Knight's furniture. On the same floor, is a permanent exhibition of manga and a room for the display of anime. The exhibition is divided into two parts: Osamu Tezuka and the city of Takarazuka and Osamu Tezuka, the author.

On the first floor are held several exhibitions and are available a Manga Library, with five hundred works of Tezuka (some foreign editions are also present), a video library and a lounge with a decor inspired by Kimba the White Lion.

There is also a center of glass that represents the planet Earth and is based on a book written by him in his childhood called "Our Earth of Glass".

See also


  1. Tezuka Osamu Monogatari, 1992, published by Tezuka Productions.
  2. Patten, Fred (2004). Watching Anime, Reading Manga: 25 Years of Essays and Reviews. Stone Bridge Press. p. 198. ISBN 1880656922. 
  3. 関厚夫 (2009-11-03). "【次代への名言】手塚治虫編(1)". sankeishimbun. Retrieved 2009-11-03. [dead link]
  4. Patten, Fred (2004). Watching Anime, Reading Manga: 25 Years of Essays and Reviews. Stone Bridge Press. p. 145. ISBN 1880656922. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Galbraith, Patrick W. (2009). The Otaku Encyclopedia: An Insider's Guide to the Subculture of Cool Japan. Kodansha International. pp. 220–221. ISBN 978-4770031013. 
  6. Gravett, Paul (2004). Manga: 60 Years of Japanese Comics. Harper Design. p. 77. ISBN 1-85669-391-0. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Foster, Melanie. "Osamu Tezuka, Animation Pioneer". Archived from the original on 2007-10-24. Retrieved 2008-02-08. 
  8. Wells, Dominic (2008-09-13). "Osamu Tezuka the master of mighty manga". The Times (London). Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  9. Patten, Fred (2004). Watching Anime, Reading Manga: 25 Years of Essays and Reviews. Stone Bridge Press. p. 144. ISBN 1880656922. 
  10. Katayama, Lisa (2007-05-31). "Museum Show Spotlights Artistry of Manga God Osamu Tezuka". Wired. Condé Nast Publications. Retrieved 2007-07-18. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 "The Story of Tezuka, Osamu". TezukaOsamu@World. Retrieved 2007-07-18. 
  12. Santiago, Ardith. "Tezuka: God of Comics". Archived from the original on 2007-07-16. Retrieved 2007-07-18. 
  13. Patten, Fred (2004). Watching Anime, Reading Manga: 25 Years of Essays and Reviews. Stone Bridge Press. p. 199. ISBN 1880656922. 
  14. "Osamu Star Annals: 1960s at TezukaOsamu@World". TezukaOsamu@World. Tezuka Productions. Retrieved 2007-08-11. 
  15. "Tezuka Osamu". Japan Zone. Retrieved 2007-08-11. 
  16. Tchiei, Go (1998). "Tezuka Osamu and the Expressive Techniques of Contemporary Manga". Dai Nippon Printing. Retrieved 2007-07-18. 
  17. Gerow, Aaron (1996-03-28). "Drawn to a Legend". Yomiuri Shimbun. Retrieved 2007-07-18. 
  18. Patten, Fred (2004). Watching Anime, Reading Manga: 25 Years of Essays and Reviews. Stone Bridge Press. p. 198. ISBN 1880656922. 
  19. Patten, Fred (2004). Watching Anime, Reading Manga: 25 Years of Essays and Reviews. Stone Bridge Press. p. 234. ISBN 1880656922. 
  20. 20.0 20.1 "小学館漫画賞: 歴代受賞者" (in Japanese). Shogakukan. Retrieved 2007-08-19. 
  21. 21.0 21.1 Hahn, Joel. "Kodansha Manga Awards". Comic Book Awards Almanac. Archived from the original on 2007-08-16. Retrieved 2007-08-21. 
  22. 22.0 22.1 "Mighty Tezuka!" Bluefat, January 2001
  23. Barrier, Michael (1972/73). "The Filming of Fritz the Cat". Funnyworld Nos. 14 and 15. Retrieved 2007-01-15.  Check date values in: |date= (help)

External links

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