Buddha Vol. 1: Kapilavastu

Osamu Tezuka

Osamu Tezuka’s vaunted storytelling genius, consummate skill at visual expression, and warm humanity blossom fully in his eight-volume epic of Siddhartha’s life and times. Tezuka evidences his profound grasp of the subject by contextualizing the Buddha’s ideas; the emphasis is on movement, action, emotion, and conflict as the prince Siddhartha runs away from home, travels across India, and questions Hindu practices such as ascetic self-mutilation and caste oppression. Rather than recommend resignation and impassivity, Tezuka’s Buddha predicates enlightenment upon recognizing the interconnectedness of life, having compassion for the suffering, and ordering one’s life sensibly. Philosophical segments are threaded into interpersonal situations with ground-breaking visual dynamism by an artist who makes sure never to lose his readers’ attention.

Tezuka himself was a humanist rather than a Buddhist, and his magnum opus is not an attempt at propaganda. Hermann Hesse’s novel or Bertolucci’s film is comparable in this regard; in fact, Tezuka’s approach is slightly irreverent in that it incorporates something that Western commentators often eschew, namely, humor.

status Copy #1 (1914): in
genre Spirituality » Buddhism
publisher Vertical
publish date October 1, 2003
popularity checked out 40 time(s)

Reviews

  • By Alex Crawford -

    For the first volume of a series by Tezuka, I expected a lot better. The art is wonderful, of course, but very little relating to the titular character actually occurs in this volume. We have the birth of the Buddha, and that’s about it. The bulk of this volume is instead focused on original characters, who are supposed to be woven in-and-out of the traditional stories and legends of the Buddha, giving this work its uniquity. While some of the stories and characters were interesting, I really liked General Budai and Chapra, the slave, other characters were so grating that I found myself just wishing them out of the story. (I’m looking at you, Chapra’s mother and Tatta) All in all, I’ve read much worse manga, but considering the calibre of the author, I’m a bit disappointed. I will say, though, that the ending to this volume leaves one expecting the story to pick up in the next volume.

  • By (ECO not echo) Evan O'Connell -

    I dug this book. It has a really intriguing style. The art is awesome, filled with loads of sweet nature scenes as well as action and humor.

  • By Kryssanne Adams -

    So yeah, as Alex said, this story is not focused on Buddha himself; Siddhartha isn’t even born until the very end of the story. BUT, there’s a reason for that, and it makes itself apparent as you read through the series. Yes, this series is a dramatized biography of Siddhartha, but it’s also very (fictitious and real-life) character driven way that takes time to pay off; it’s not JUST about the Buddha, it’s about the people the Buddha loves too. Tatta is the his first disciple, and this is the story of his painful and traumatic childhood. It takes the whole series to come around and become fully relevant, but it does! Slow pacing on this story, but I promise it’s worth it and if you keep reading, you’ll learn how everyone’s fate is entangled. Tezuka is brilliant.

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