Analysis Of Ode To Kirihito

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In Ode to Kirihito (1970-71), Osamu Tezuka makes it clear that he is not engaging in children 's literature. The manga opens tensely in a hospital with a huge staff of doctors mulling over a perplexing medical case and a barrage of obtuse medical terminology. Visually, aside from the dour doctors, there is a heavily rendered panel of tightly-packed tombstones in the overgrown cemetery of the afflicted village of Doggodale. This was an early salvo from Tezuka, that after two decades of massive commercial success with largely all-ages manga, that he was not content merely being the Walt Disney of Japan. Tezuka wanted to unlock the full power of a new art form. Therefore, in this essay I will argue that with Ode to Kirihito, Tezuka…show more content…
The opening pages show a panorama of a beautiful Chinese port city (most likely an idealized Shanghai) with its tightly-packed houses and sailboats dotting the harbor. Then Tezuka brings us into to bustling, but still benign city streets, and a richly-appointed garden walling off the palace of Master Mahn. Only after does Tezuka begin to peel back the benign exterior to show the twisted underbelly. As the caged Osanai is brought inside by two drivers, Tezuka shows a half-page Roman orgy scene encircling a pair of nude performers. The rich, corrupt men, bored by their excesses, demand greater and more perverse pleasures and the ringleader has an infant brought out and placed in the company of a massive snake. Everything we know from Western films and even other manga suggests that the expected horror will not unfold, and that some heroic figure (perhaps the caged Osanai himself) will intervene and save the baby, but that does not happen. Mahn states “Don 't worry, we bought the baby fair and square in Pakistan. Watch closely” (p. 195). In the next page, we see that the snake has eaten the baby with a swollen belly, a woman is seen sobbing and the men are still bored because it is apparently too easy: “Boring! All you need is money to buy a snake and a baby” (p. 196). The

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