1973 - 1989

Tezuka Osamu Revival of the God of Manga

Tezuka Osamu

Some said “Tezuka Osamu is old-fashioned.” But he drove off such views with the mega hit of Black Jack. Here we share the last message of the great artist who kept being the top through his life. 

Welcome!

Here we introduce you how Tezuka Osamu got back to the forefront as a manga artist. In the middle of the boom of Gekiga (manga targeted to adult readers), Tezuka was considered as old-fashioned. But he was miraculously revived with the arrival of Black Jack.

“I did change my direction several times without shame. But before making such decision, I always got neurotic. I got so many complexes, took my frustration on people around me, faced the ultimate dilemma, and finally accommodated the majority. ”

(by Tezuka Osamu)

Osamu Tezuka in 70's, Tezuka Productions, 1970, From the collection of: Tezuka Osamu
Tezuka chased the Yokai boom., Tezuka Productions, From the collection of: Tezuka Osamu
Tezuka chased the Yokai boom.  left: "The Vampires", right: "Dororo"
Tezuka chased the Gekiga boom., Tezuka Productions, From the collection of: Tezuka Osamu
Tezuka chased the Gekiga boom. Upper left: "Under the Air", upper right: "Alabaster", bottom left: "Eulogy to Kirihito", bottom right: "Swallowing the Earth"
Tezuka chased the erotic manga boom., Tezuka Productions, From the collection of: Tezuka Osamu
Tezuka chased the erotic manga boom.  left: "The Song for Apollo", right: "Yakeppachi's Maria"

“Of course, my longtime fans hurled abuse at me and left. They thought I betrayed them”

 (by Tezuka Osamu)

Tezuka Osamu struggling, Tezuka Productions, From the collection of: Tezuka Osamu
Mushi Production went bankruptcy, Tezuka Productions, 1973, From the collection of: Tezuka Osamu

In 1973, Mushi Production went bankruptcy.

“I got an avalanche of letters from my readers. They claimed I got suck in a rut. What matter I wrote, I received a poor reputation. Besides, my assistant got caught up in Gekiga. I felt like it's the end of the world. Actually I went to a psychiatry at Chiba University to undergo a mental evaluation.” 

(by Tezuka Osamu)

Tezuka Osamu struggling, Tezuka Productions, From the collection of: Tezuka Osamu
Tezuka Osamu struggling, Tezuka Productions, From the collection of: Tezuka Osamu

Later, Tezuka called the days his “winter”. Actually people thought Tezuka's popularity was almost over.

One editor-in-chief offered Tezuka the last chance to write a work for his magazine with a thought to witness Tezuka's ending by himself. The work, however, did not mark the end.  Instead it changed the trend of manga. Tezuka's “winter” was finally over.

"Black Jack", Tezuka Productions, 1973-11-19, From the collection of: Tezuka Osamu

Black Jack (1973-1983)

“Black Jack” was started as a one-shot, self-contained work so that it could be discontinued anytime it lost popularity. 

The work, however, was well-received among readers as something innovative since most of manga works then were serials.   

Readers who read manga as a part of their daily life must have liked this new self-contained style since they didn't need to worry about the rest of the story.

"Black Jack", Tezuka Productions, 1973, From the collection of: Tezuka Osamu

“I wrote Black Jack based on my limited and anachronical medical knowledge I obtained 40 years ago when I was a medical student. So I don't want today's medical students read the work seriously. Still they like the work.  

Why? I think it's because the work features motivations of life, meaning it's about life and death. Probably that stimulates today's young people.”  (by Tezuka Osamu)

A excerpt from "Black Jack", Tezuka Productions, From the collection of: Tezuka Osamu

In 1974

Black Jack is a story of life and death depicted through eyes of a mysterious but genius surgeon. It may be said that the work was the culmination of basic themes Tezuka pursued since his debut with “Jungle Emperor”.

And here, the serialization of another great work, the culmination of Tezuka's Sci Fi and romantic mysteries, was started.

"The Three-eyed One Comes Here", Tezuka Productions, From the collection of: Tezuka Osamu

Three-Eyed One (1974-1978)

As if an homage to Conan Doyle, the author of the classic Sci Fi “The Lost World”, Tezuka named his two main characters Sharaku Hosuke and Wato, punning on Sherlock Holmes and his assistant Dr. Watson. 

Tezuka made Sharaku and Wato challenge the secret of supernatural powers and ancient civilizations, successfully revitalizing the tradition of his own manga -stimulating  curiosity toward the unknown- again in the realm of boy's comics.

"The Three-eyed One Comes Here", Tezuka Productions, 1974-07-07, From the collection of: Tezuka Osamu

“Children are basically the same in any time.” 

“We sometimes detour or deviate thanks to our curiosity, which certainly is a waste of time but helps you somehow in the future.”

(by Tezuka Osamu)

In 1977

As he regained his popularity, his creativity came back to life again. He restarted the serialization of his life work “Phoenix” which he had left off for a long time. 

In 1977, Tezuka was engaged in the serialization of six works: Black Jack, Three-Eyed One, Buddha, Phoenix, Unico and MW, all at the same time.  

Tezuka manga entered the 2nd golden age.

"The Complete Manga Works of Tezuka Osamu", Tezuka Productions, From the collection of: Tezuka Osamu
"The Complete Manga Works of Tezuka Osamu"

“Once I said to parents and children authors, 'If manga artists cultivate their skill and ability more, manga could be a rival of literature', which made them upset. 

One children author angrily said to me, 'Manga never can be a substitute of literature'.”

(by Tezuka Osamu)

A excerpt from"Tezuka's Ancestor Dr. Ryoan", Tezuka Productions, From the collection of: Tezuka Osamu
"Tezuka's Ancestor Dr. Ryoan"  "It's easy to end a life. You just leave the patient. But it's not easy to save the life! This is why we doctors are here. That's our role."
"The Stories of Three Adolfs", Tezuka Productions, From the collection of: Tezuka Osamu
"The Stories of Three Adolfs"  "Jewish, german, all that has nothing to do with it!"

“The generation grown up with and immersed in manga was somehow inspired by manga.  A part of manga works they read in childhood, even if it's only a very small part of them, must have be embedded in their memory, affecting their philosophy of life.

 I, therefore, believe mang should not be something depressing. 

 I hope it's something positive filled with hopes.”

 (by Tezuka Osamu)

A excerpt from "Eulogy to Kirihito", Tezuka Productions, From the collection of: Tezuka Osamu

Eulogy to Kirihito

“I only ask one thing of you. Don't be frightened when you see my face. I'm a human being. There is absolutely nothing to fear.”

The Stories of Three Adolfs

“The ones riling people up about which race is inferior and which is superior are just a tiny handful of big shots.”

A excerpt from "The Stories of Three Adolfs", Tezuka Productions, From the collection of: Tezuka Osamu
A excerpt from "Ayako", Tezuka Productions, 1975-01-25, From the collection of: Tezuka Osamu

AYAKO

“Don' cry, ayako… Th' darkness be yer domain! Ya live on, ya hear?”

MW

“No reason. I just want to.”

A excerpt from "MW", Tezuka Productions, From the collection of: Tezuka Osamu
A excerpt from "Tezuka's Ancestor Dr. Ryoan", Tezuka Productions, From the collection of: Tezuka Osamu

Tezuka's Ancestor Dr. Ryoan

“The new era is approaching.  It's just around the corner. Ride on the tide of the Pacific!”

In 1989

Tezuka was ill, still his rich imagination never ran out.  He kept writing Gringo, Ludwig B and Neo Faust till he finally died in the hospital.  

He was not told about his stomach cancer while he did not ask people around him how bad his condition was.  

But in Neo Faust, he depicted a man who noticed his terminal cancer by himself, without being told by people around him.

The cover arts and the last frames of “Gringo”, “Ludwig B” and “Neo Faust”, Tezuka Productions, From the collection of: Tezuka Osamu
The cover arts and the last frames of “Gringo”, “Ludwig B” and “Neo Faust”

“People have long tended to believe that manga characters exist in real life. Actually I often receive compelling letters from readers begging Black Jack to come and cure their illness, though Black Jack is just a doctor appearing in my manga work.”

(by Tezuka Osamu)

Unfinished rough drawing for "Neo Faust", Tezuka Productions, 1989, From the collection of: Tezuka Osamu
Unfinished rough drawing for “Neo Faust”
Osamu Tezuka with his characters, Tezuka Productions, From the collection of: Tezuka Osamu
Phoenix flying away, Tezuka Productions, From the collection of: Tezuka Osamu
Credits: Story

制作 — 手塚プロダクション
Produced by — Tezuka Productions Co., LTD.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not represent the views of the institutions whose collections include the featured works or of Google Arts & Culture.
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