I knew that if I read this book, I would be swept in a heartbeat. But not in the same romantic tale that Tezuka presented to me in Ribon no Kishi. This was way different from what we knew of him. Consider my review a bit dumb and light hearted, but I honestly did not see this in Tezuka. Sure, we’ve seen Kimba, Atom, and Sapphire. In my head, I felt that Tezuka was Disney. Many books on manga said he was Japan’s answer to Disney. So when I grabbed Ode to Kirihito on the shelf the other day, I knew I would have an entire paradigm shift on that old man with a beret. Indeed, I felt like Tezuka struck me with a bat saying “Wake up kid, I’m just as cruel as the other guy.” The man is no Disney, and he will never be one.
My friend Takk was right. This was grim. Far beyond the fairy tales of Ribon no Kishi and the wonder of Atom. Tezuka created a greedy and vengeful world for Kirihito Osanai. And I’m just in awe of his genius.
Just admit that you’ve got it all wrong, Khursten
Tezuka begins the book with the character of Kirihito Osanai, a young doctor with ambitions to find the source and possibly a cure to a disease that turned humans into dogs. Osanai has a different theory on the rare monmow disease compared to his mentor, Dr. Tatsugaura. Tatsugaura then sends Osanai to the village with the reported case of monmow disease. Osanai leaves without worry of the troubles that would lie ahead in his future. His departure marked the beginning of changes, of which some are truly grim and unbearable. Yes. Not all of Tezuka’s works are nice and fluffy. Ode to Kirihito revolved around the world of medicine, its politics, and its effects on people. The fantastic went as far as the disease that turns you into a dog. This book is beyond Megalopolis and flower beds. The book tackles the darkest of our our emotions.
If I try to encapsulate the entire story of Ode to Kirihito with one word, it would be obstinacy. You have one seasoned doctor who refuses to accept questions about his theories. You have a young doctor who could not deal with the changes in his body. You have a women in deeply and blindly in love. You have a man endlessly atoning for his sins. Each of the characters in this story has a sense of obstinacy and it resonates through out the book. Despite this, you’d never feel annoyed with theme for Tezuka managed to balance them out, presenting them in a more mature light.
When I read this, I honestly didn’t feel that same Tezuka that had written Ribon no Kishi. Some chapters were just too depressing. Just when things were doing along fine, Tezuka whips his pen and creates tragedy upon tragedy. Grim as they were, I still kept on reading. His story and art bridge towards grotesque, yet it was tastefully done that you can still keep on reading. The images were shocking but not traumatizing. Again, I’m just in awe of his genius.
There were still some moments that reminded me of the old Tezuka. His sense of justice was still there. So was his amazing art. There were some moments were the paneling was a bit off, probably an experimentation on his end. But all in all, he drew the story well. An amazing story done by one amazing man.
I am still on a high with Ode to Kirihito. For a moment, while reading, I was thinking “God! This is the stuff that Urasawa is made of!” Then I thought to myself, maybe Urasawa was more like Tezuka. lol. Either way, I’m just amazed with the extent of Urasawa’s talent. Unlike Disney who still keeps children in a dream, Tezuka grew up with his children. He realizes the fact that the same people who loved Atom have now grown up and are looking for an entirely different story altogether. And this was his story for them.