It’s been way too long since I read the first volume of Buddha by Osamu Tezuka. I really liked it, but it sorta fell to the wayside when pitted versus aliens, time travelers and espers… I’ve been feeling pretty thoughtful lately, so I figured I’d take the Buddha Vol. 2 off the shelf and read it already!
In this volume, we see Siddhartha grow from a wimpy ten-year old kid to a slightly less wimpy adult. As a child, Siddhartha is sheltered from the world, and is treated to live topless shows every day! I guess it was normal back then to go topless 100% of the time… In his free time, he sleeps and throws up. He’s a pretty sick kid.
One day when Siddhartha ditches class to hang out with his friends, he witnesses the death of a rabbit. Soon after this, the kid who killed the rabbit also dies. This causes a series of events which lead Siddhartha to question what comes after death, and to think about how death is the great equalizer.
Later, Siddhartha goes on a journey with Tatta, the animal possessing kid from the last volume. He sees the horrors of a plague, and gets sick himself. He also makes a girlfriend out of a thief that the two rescue. When he gets back, Siddhartha falls ill himself for 6 months!
At this point, Siddhartha is ready to go out and start learning the truth of the world. His father tries to tie him down with a woman, but Siddhartha won’t have any of that! Well, he does get her pregnant, but then he leaves her anyway. At the end of the volume, Siddhartha has finally decided to become a monk.
I really liked this volume of Buddha, too. While I think that a lot of the story is sort of made up, it does add some excitement. I’m not really sure whether to read this as a work of fiction or not. I suppose it’d be safe to call it fiction due to the fact that probably 90% of the story didn’t actually happen.
It’s kind of weird how much emotion can be portrayed, even through the cartoony art of Osamu Tezuka. A lot of it is very cute, like the bunnies! But then the bunny gets shot with an arrow! The characters are all really fleshed out, and I actually got really sad when they died/had their eyes burned out.
One thing I did notice is that the translation is pretty relaxed. I don’t know if this is due to the original Japanese or the translation, though. Like at one point a character yells “shut the fuck up!” At least they didn’t say “oh no you di’int!” There’s also a lot of comic relief that seems kind of out of place.
The story really isn’t “kiddie,” though. There’s a lot of adult themes, like death, eye burning, more death, etc. It’s really a thoughtful piece of work when you think about it.
I feel pretty bad for putting off reading this manga for so long. Buddha is really good! If anyone can pull off a manga about Buddha, it would be the father of manga, Osamu Tezuka! For being 400 pages long, it really is a quick read, and one you won’t regret.