Ongoing Investigations: Case #051

In preparation for seeing Frederik Schodt at Otakon, Narutaki and I decided to read The Astro Boy Essays. The title might say The Astro Boy Essays but this book is just as much a detailed look at Osamu Tezuka as it is a look at Astro Boy. The essays cover the production of Astro Boy as both an anime and manga, its effects on Japanese anime and manga, as well as on Japanese culture in general. The book also covers how Astro Boy was localized in the United States. Throughout Frederik Schodt gives us a look at the man himself, Tezuka. I now realize that many of the smart people who I consider well-versed on Osamu Tezuka are merely stating what they know from this book. My only criticism is that at times this is obviously a collection of essays written over the years. This means that some parts will be redundant as he has a tendency to repeat certain aspects in one essay to the next because all the essays were originally stand alone pieces. Still it is one of the definitive pieces on Osamu Tezuka and one of his most beloved and well-known creations. It is a must read for anyone interested in anime and manga’s history and one of its greatest contributors.

YAY! I got my copy of The Astro Boy Essays signed! After recently reading Dreamland Japan also by Schodt, which showcased a bit of Schodt’s friendship with Tezuka through his interpreting for him in the United States, I needed to pick up this collection of essays as well. Astro Boy and Tezuka are highlighted in his previous books, and some of the tidbits are the same, but the thinking of Tezuka and his own interactions with his creation are fully fleshed out in The Astro Boy Essays. It is written in a conversational manner and not bogged down with so many dates, facts, and figures as to come off dry. This is apparent in all of Schodt’s works and is the reason it is so accessible and a joy to read. The Astro Boy Essays also helped me appreciate that so much of the Tezuka library is finally being published in English. While I have not read much of the original Astro Boy manga, I soon will be. This was an all around quick but informative read that is necessary for anyone who appreciates the history of anime and manga.

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