Buddha Vol. 2: The Four Encounters – Manga Review

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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!

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Story:
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.

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Analysis:
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.

Conclusion:
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.

Many thanks to Vertical who provided me with the review copy of Buddha Vol. 2: The Four Encounters. You can get more info about the Buddha manga series at Vertical’s website.

26 thoughts on “Buddha Vol. 2: The Four Encounters – Manga Review”

  1. i believe what osamu is trying to do is to provide as close as the actual accounts of what really happened to Buddha when he’s still alive. From the 2 scanlations you provided, i can safely say its quite near to the things. i wonder if its suitable for buddhist study. AND ITS DAMN EXP IN MY COUNTRY!!!Great amount of research done by osamu. and he must be very enlightened by now.

  2. There’s a lot of stuff in the manga that is made up. Like Tatta, the character.

    I think it’s more for entertainment value than actual Buddhist teachings, though it could get people more interested in the topic who wouldn’t normally be.

  3. If you meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha!

    I just finished watching all 50 episodes of Saiyuki over the past weekend so I had to say it. Sorry

    The manga looks like something I’d really be interested in. Thanks for the review.

  4. I guess I didn’t really mention this in the review, but I think this manga is really underrated and undermarketed. Like I had never really heard about it before. So I hope people check it out since it’s really worth taking a look at.

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