Apollo's Song Paperback – Jun 8 2007
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"More than telling a multifaceted story, Apollo’s Song inspires. When the dust settles and the back cover is closed, Tezuka’s intent is laid bare to the reader and it’s a noble one. Shogo doesn’t merely learn a lesson about love and life — he transcends the agony of both." - MangaLife
"Tezuka’s work is about as essential and far-reaching as manga gets, and Apollo’s Song only adds that much more weight to an already massive reputation. Start here, and if you’re intrigued, Ode to Kirihito and Buddha also await you. There’s never been anything like Tezuka’s body of work, and there probably never will be again." - Serdar Yegulalp Anime Advanced Media Network
About the Author
Osamu Tezuka (1928-89) is the godfather of Japanese manga comics. He originally intended to become a doctor and earned his degree before turning to what was then a medium for children. His many early masterpieces include the series known in the U.S. as Astro Boy. With his sweeping vision, deftly interwined plots, feel for the workings of power, and indefatigable commitment to human dignity, Tezuka elevated manga to an art form. The later Tezuka, when he authored Buddha, often had in mind the mature readership that manga gained in the sixties and that had only grown ever since. The Kurosawa of Japanese pop culture, Osamu Tezuka is a twentieth century classic.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
But, the ideas that he covers -- the philosophical and very mortal issues of love, existence, and death are very poignant. The protagonist Shogo is a very interesting character that both attracts the reader with the struggles of his own trauma, and repulses through some of his actions.
Ultimately, this story, through a succession of different stories within that do not always find the unity or smoothness they seek (though again are very interesting and poignant ideas) deals with the human condition of eros and thanatos -- love and death as the universals of human life and how we find the meaning between them.
It also briefly deals with reincarnation, and makes mention divinity, but the main focus you'll find is on the allegory of Apollo and Daphne as the eternal human experience. But in the end, how you perceive the ending will all depend on your own perspective. For, as Tezuka seems to ask us, are we doomed to repeat our actions, or do we learn from each repetition? You decide, and enjoy.
It's great to see another one of his works make it to American shores, and in such a respectable manner as well. "Apollo's Song" follows Shogo Chikaishi through many eras and time periods, parodying the story of the Greek god Apollo and his love, daughter to the river god, Daphne. It's difficult to give a summary, because -- well, it just shouldn't be done. This is an epic on (nearly) the scale of an ancient Greek history, and is drawn with a distinctive style that has become synonymous with the name Tezuka (or maybe "Astro Boy" to the American fans).
Tezuka seems to enjoy his philosophies, and they are certainly clear on several levels. This is worth noting - that a comic artist is able to create such emotion from such "cartoon" faces. At the same time, however, it also shows some of the past generation's faults; there are numerous occasions where women are treated badly (and this isn't just something experienced with this one publishing of his, trust me) and there is also some near-propaganda with some of the early chapters focusing on Shogo as a Nazi private.
All in all though, this is a fine edition to any comic fan's library, especially those who know the name, or those who wish to know more about Tezuka. He often says more with his pages that hold no text; his drawings have been called mechanical, but I have nothing but the opposite to say - they speak volumes louder than any size font. His characters nearly always have flaws, but I think that's why he's remembered -- for creating a style, as well as wonderful stories like this to envelope inside of it.
"Apollo" is basically a collection of several smaller stories that fit within a larger framework, and it holds together well both ways. It is a strong title and certainly one of the best comics of 2007 (at least here in the US, where it is finally appearing!). I think readers of mature graphic novels will be quite happy with this lengthy read.
Apollo's Song, given to me by a friend, is quite epic, whether examined alone or alongside Tezuka's other works. It features, of course, Tezuka's unmistakable comic drawing style, combined with a dark, deep story about eternal punishment. The contrast in the story and its presentation is itself something truly amazing, and it must be seen to be fully appreciated.
What happens to a man who hates the very concept of love? What must he endure in order to open up to the idea that even a troubled, abused fellow such as he can learn to truly love someone? What happens to our tortured anti-hero is nothing short of brutal, and never-ending. How he wound up being the sort of person he became can't truly be blamed on him, yet he receives retribution everlasting for rejecting love itself.
Shogo's journey is at times sweet, at times violent, and at times even peppered with hope, but is always a struggle. This story is a tragedy on a truly epic scale, stretching from the past well into the future, with the only constants being his name, his appearance, his punishment... and the face of one specific woman. The remaining details all change, yet his travels are very much a spiral, leading him downward into the bottomless.
This manga was made during a time when sex education was no longer taboo in Japan, and is not hesitant to take advantage of the new freedom this allowed the medium. This isn't one of Tezuka's family-friendly works. There's blood, there's nudity and enough else you don't want the young 'uns seeing. It's filled with plenty of immensely unlikeable characters supporting two very flawed, but ultimately likable people whose sad story has backdrops as brutal as the Holocaust.
Apollo's Song isn't for everybody. But for those who like solid story and the inimitable crafting and style of Osamu Tezuka, it's a must-read.