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.

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After all of his hardships, things are finally starting to look up for Asuta. He’s found his place with Ai Fa, helped to reforge her friendships, and even opened a shop in the post town! And by all standards but his own, it’s been a roaring success. Even he has to admit it’s going well when he starts to get some long awaited customers from the west, too! In fact, he’s preparing to open up a second stall, increasing his business even further in the process.

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Love and sorcery continue taking root in more ways than one as Zagan is faced with Angelic Knights, snarky friends, and… a council of Archdemons?!