Monday, September 26, 2011

BOOK - The Art Of Osamu Tezuka

I am back in my hometown and finally I can take a look at the last Amazon order I received almost one month ago. The Art of Osamu Tezuka is a gorgeous book by Helen McCarthy that tells the story of Osamu Tezuka, a japanese manga and animation artist known as "the god of manga" and considered  by many as the Walt Disney of Japan.  Tezuka marked an turning point in japanese manga and anime culture as Katsuhiro Otomo forewords in the book:
It is important to understand that Osamu Tezuka is not the founder of Japanese animation.
There were animators in Japan before him, as well as those working at the same time. Tezuka's work, however, revolutionized the industry by transferring recognized cinematic forms of expression from the silver screen to both his manga and his anime in order to make his stories more appealing to his (initially young) audience. In Tezuka's anime especially, camera conceits such as close-ups, pan/tilt, and so forth contributed to the creation of a realistic feel to his animated features, though initially they caused all sorts of production problems. He also played with varied lighting to enhance mood. 
By Tezuka's time, manga and anime had ceased to be the throwaway items they had been before the war, and it is Tezuka's greatest success that he recognized the need to inject wider perspectives and social awareness into his work. This was important after the war, when Disney animation was contributing to the anti -Japanization of Japanese popular culture, and U.S. -supported reconstruction dominated Japan. Today, much of the manga and anime business stands far removed from the fragile system into which Tezuka breathed life, and from some perspectives, imagination seems to have largely given over to the sort of routine against which Tezuka railed. However, there still remain strands of the Master's imagination woven throughout the islands of Japan, and I have faith that even today many of his professional descendents remain true to the standards by which he built an industry. 
It is no exaggeration to say that it is largely due to the genius of Tezuka, in those formative years of the country's reconstruction, that Japanese animation and manga have developed into a form largely without comparison in the world. Influenced by the innovations of Disney but guided by his own emotional compass, Tezuka did not demand absolute rigidity of his staff, but he allowed them to explore their own creative processes and unique styles. These were animators who would later go on to create an entire industry, impassioned by their beloved teacher. 
Katsuhiro Otomo is the creator of AKIRA, the seminal manga and movie

To realize how influential Tezuka has been for many generations take a look to the pictures  from Just  for those who don't know Osamu Tezuka and his work, to get an idea of his talent and vision that "inspired" many.

The images speak for themselves. Osamu Tezuka started drawing the manga Jungle Emperor (ジャングル大帝 Jungle Taite) also known as Kimba The White Lion back in the fifties. A work that was published in Japan in serialized form in Manga Shōnen magazine and later on became the first color animated television series created in the country. On the other hand, The Lion King is a Walt Disney production from 1994 and still today is the highest grossing animation film made with traditional 2D animation technique and it is fifth on the overall animation ranking, behind 3D animation titles like Toy story 3 and Shrek 2

Of course the book goes beyond that, in 272 pages McCarthy depicts Tezuka's life and work with pictures of all its creative processes, from sketches to drawings, from animation films to memorabilia. All nicely compiled in a hard cover beautiful book that makes it a must have for any japanese manga or animation fan.  And last but not least,  bundled with the book, a DVD with  a never before released 45 minutes long  NHK documentary, The Secret of Creation, in wich we got immersed in Tezuka's daily life following him to his remote studio, where not even editors are allowed, to his house and inside his Mushi Production company where all his creations come to life. 

Jumping (1984) is one of those rare films that were produced at Mushi.

I first saw this piece in the Spanish La2 channel, TV documentary program "la noche Tematica" special issue about japanese manga and anime, back in 1998. This film together with other shorts is available on DVD in Amazon. Don't miss it.  

The Art Of Osamu Tezuka
Helen McCarthy (Author), Osamu Tezuka (Illustrator), Katsuhiro Otomo (Foreword)
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Abrams ComicArts; Har/DVD edition (October 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0810982498

Buy it on Amazon:
US / ES / JP

Tezuka Osamu Short films on DVD
Director: Tezuka Osamu
Language: Japanese
Run Time: 151 minutes
Buy them on Amazon
US / ES / JP

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