• Vertical (2003–2005)
• Ushio Shuppan (Kibô no Tomo/Shônen World/Comic Tom, 1972–1983) •
• Shônen, Religion, Historical Drama
• Unrated/16+ (violence, nudity, sexual situations)
Tezuka’s Buddhist beliefs work their way into many of his manga, such as Phoenix, but this is his most overtly religious work, an ambitious retelling of the life of the Buddha. Written for children but enjoyable for all ages, Buddha spices up the story of Prince Siddhartha’s journey toward enlightenment with heaping doses of action, intrigue, and even slapstick comedy. Tezuka faithfully follows the outline of Buddhist dogma but expands on the personalities of the key figures in the Buddha’s life, also adding original characters whose lives demonstrate tenets of the Buddha’s teachings (and, often, include
some extra two-fisted action for readers tiring of saintliness). Western readers may be shocked or baffled by Tezuka’s often irreverent take on his subject matter; it’s hard to imagine a Christian comic about the life of Jesus featuring bloody fight scenes, anachronistic sight gags, and the occasional fart joke alongside transcendent depictions of religious enlightenment. But Buddha has all these and more, and is ultimately both an engrossing, densely layered story and an inspiring exploration of faith.