BUDDHA was serialized at the same time as BLACK JACK. it feels like the work of a master who knows exactly what he wants to do. i read this great manga in middle school, but i missed all the gags somehow.
sadly like AKIRA this version is flipped. but still you see Tezuka’s bold and fluid line and virtuoso rendering of trees and mountains. how cool to land on this meditative passage on the locust plague in an escape sequence.
ODE TO KIRIHITO and MW are huge in scope too, if i remember right. but this is truly a manga of epic statement. it kinda Christianizes the life of the Buddha, with all of these portents we see.
at the same time Tezuka is so thoroughly a comic graphic novelist. no moment is too solemn for a cheap gag. he gives himself a cameo as a doctor, a strong gust blows a pack of cigarettes out of a monk’s robe, and the spear-carriers in the background are always cracking lewd jokes. the rhythm of the panels seem so impeccably chosen, effortless. in another scene, Chapra who shows his skills with the bow here literally slices up the panel gutters in a sword fight.
Tatta, who can possess animals, has to deliver a message to a Brahmin priest to save Chapra’s life. it’s a brutal sequence — Tatta’s soul hops from creature to creature as each is killed by predators. the climax with the mallard and falcon nearly took my breath away.