Sunday, March 16, 2014

On the Coffee Table: Osamu Tezuka

Titles: Buddha
- Volume 3: Devadatta
- Volume 4: The Forest of Uruvela
- Volume 5: Deer Park
Writer and Artist: Osamu Tezuka

My reviews for the first two volumes of this series can be found here and here.
We had a rare couple of snow days this past week which afforded me time to make further progress in Buddha, Osamu Tezuka's excellent manga series.  Volume 2 ended with Siddharta leaving home to begin his spiritual journey.  The next three books cover the various paths he pursued - gurus he sought who failed to meet his needs, painful ordeals he endured which left him unfulfilled and ultimately embittered.  Finally, he attains enlightenment one day while sitting under a tree.  Brahma, whom he meets him in his dreams, renames him Buddha and a world religion is born.
via Atomic Books
Unlike most comic book series which tend to start strong, then drop off in quality, I'm finding Buddha gets better as it goes along.  In Volume 5, especially, the basic ideas of the new philosophy are thoroughly explored, often in sermons given to deer, the only beings around to listen.  I read the story of Buddha in a Major Eastern Religions class in college and was less than enthralled.  If these comics had been around at the time, my experience with the subject might have been quite different.  There is occasional levity in Tezuka's presentation but overall, the religious ideas are treated thoughtfully and respectfully.  I'm definitely up for more.

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