Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Phoenix: Dawn - Now Even With Kitchen Sink!

Wow...talk about a lot of stuff packed into one comic book story (hence the title...by the by, where did that phrase come from anyways?).

Osamu Tezuka's Phoenix: Dawn (the first part of Tezuka's Phoenix sage), today's "You Decide" by...well, whoever asked for it was Anonymous, is a big pile of different genres, all thrown together into one story.

And yet Tezuka makes it work, even while you are sitting there saying to yourself, "Really? He is doing slapstick in the middle of a serious scene? Ooooookay."

The story in the first part of the TWELVE part Phoenix story is 340 pages long, and tells a long story of love, betrayal, greed, more betrayal, magic, war, revenge, more betrayal, more love, more war, more revenge, more betrayal...and there are eleven more stories like this!

The basic plot of the comic is that a village is betrayed by a man from a nearby kingdom, and the city's General takes a young boy hostage to train to hunt down the Phoenix, whose blood will give eternal life to the queen of the kingdom.

The boy and the General's relationship takes up MOST of the story, but the book really does divide up the plots pretty evenly.

The traitor to the village and his wife.

The expert archer.

The "ugly" handmaiden.

The first lord of Japan.

The vain Queen.

A lot of stories mixing together over the course of the story.

The real weird part of the book, though, is how Tezuka works in other genres into his stories...like he will do bits where the animals act like Disney characters for a little bit, he will have characters make references to movies (while the book is set in ancient Japan), he has a character's nose become horribly disfigured - just for a gag, it is a weeeeeeeeeeeeeeird book.

And yet it somehow all comes together and works.

The art is top notch, as Tezuka was obviously having a LOT of fun with it...and the story has that same sense of fun, while still the seriousness of a story that knows that it is the first part of an epic.

Well worth a read...I only hope that the rest of the series lives up the high standard set with the opening story.


Blogger Shaenon said...

Phoenix just gets better as it goes on. By Volume 3 your mind will start to explode from the awesomeness, and by Volume 4 it will be completely blown. I haven't read Volume 5 yet, so maybe it's all downhill from there, but frankly you can't go too wrong with Tezuka in the first place.

4/19/2005 12:42:00 PM  
Blogger Matt Brady said...

I have only read volume 2 (Future, I think). I actually wasn't aware of which volume it was until after I had finished it, because there was a chart showing a sort of timeline of the different volumes in the back of the book. I would love to read the whole series. Just that one volume was mindblowingly cool. I too am amazed by how Tezuka mixed genres and styles without them clashing, and how striking the more serious content (an immortal character trying to commit suicide) appears when rendered in his cartoony style. He truly was a genius. Are all 12 volumes available? I had heard that this was Tezuka's "great unfinished masterpiece", so I wasn't even sure if the story was even completed.

4/19/2005 02:57:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Matt, I believe the problem is that, while Tezuka finished the project, Viz never finished translating the volumes into English (I think they quit at the aforementioned Volume 5).

I hope it is just a delay, and not a definitive stop, because they've done a marvelous job of translating, I think.

4/19/2005 05:12:00 PM  
Blogger David Welsh said...

I think he was still working on it at the time of his death, Brian. That's the impression that I got from Gravett's book, though it is kind of vague.

Have you read Buddha? What I've read so far is glorious, and Vertical has packaged it like the prettiest pretty thing that ever prettied. It's lovely.

4/19/2005 07:20:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Sorry, David, you're right...I thought that 12 volumes was how many he MEANT to do.

But instead, he only completed 12 volumes before he died.

In either event, only the first five were reprinted by Viz.

And no Buddha for Brian...although one of my next "You Decides" is Planetes!

4/19/2005 07:24:00 PM  
Blogger David Welsh said...

although one of my next "You Decides" is Planetes!

Ooooh, cool! I think you'll really like it.

4/20/2005 04:48:00 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home