Friday, March 7, 2014

On the Coffee Table: The Four Encounters

Title: Buddha, Volume 2: The Four Encounters
Writer and Artist: Osamu Tezuka
As I lay in bed last night with a charming new stomach bug, My Wife brought me a delightful gift: the second book in Tezuka's Buddha series (Volume 1 reviewed here).  I knew she'd ordered it but didn't realize it had arrived.  Being sick stinks but it is a reasonable excuse to stay in bed and read.

While Volume 1 primarily developed fictional side characters, Volume 2 is entirely devoted to the early life of Siddhartha, the man who would become Gautama Buddha.  Siddhartha, born into royalty, is a misfit from the beginning.  Perceived as weak, he shows neither interest nor aptitude for becoming a warrior.  From an early age, he demonstrates disdain for India's caste system and great sympathy for all humans and animals as well.  His curiosity about death leads him to ask questions and no one in his immediate sphere is able to provide satisfying answers. The Four Encounters follows his efforts to break away from the world of his parents in order to pursue a monastic life.

The strengths of the first volume all carry over for the second.  The artwork is stunning.  I'll admit, as a comic reader, I don't spend as much time on each individual frame as I probably should.  I'm a text guy.  But with Tezuka's work, it's impossible not to linger over a panel from time to time.  Landscapes are his greatest strength, not unlike Hayao Miyazaki, a film director who was greatly influenced by Tezuka. 

I'm looking forward to Volume 3.


  1. I am a huge Osam Tezuka fan because of daughter. We have been to his Museum twice and it is a gem. (It is close to the Takarazuka Theater )
    His art is extraordinary. I am trying to remember a story he based on his early life the illustrations were wonderful.
    Astro boy, Black Jack, Kimba we are fans.

    Feel better soon.
    cheers parsnip

    1. Thanks for the well wishes. I think I'm almost there.

      I was not so impressed by Black Jack. There are aspects of Japanese pop culture that set my teeth on edge and Black Jack dabbles in a few of them. The basic story's good but it's not for me. Buddha's been much better.

    2. Buddha does sound much better but I have not read it.
      To a 16 year old Astro Boy and Black Jack got their attention, 20+ years ago.
      Daughter is still an Astro Boy fan but not the new remakes.
      I kept an eye and read with them when they were first interested.

      Keep getting better and no shoveling snow.

    3. Yes, ma'am!

      I haven't tried Astro Boy. Maybe I'll check it out after I'm done with this series.

  2. Sounds like an interesting book. Your wife seems to be taking good care of you. Hope you feel better soon!