Osamu Tezuka

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Osamu Tezuka, 1951

Osamu Tezuka ( Japanese 手塚 治虫 , actually: 手塚 治 , Tezuka Osamu ; born November 3, 1928 in Toyonaka ; † February 9, 1989 ) was a Japanese doctor, director and manga artist . He was so significantly involved in the development of the manga and the anime of the post-war period that he was sometimes referred to as "Manga no Kami-sama" ( 漫画 の 神 様 , dt. "God of the Manga").

Famous figures of his productive work are for example Astro Boy , Black Jack , Princess Saphir and Kimba .


Childhood and youth

Osamu Tezuka was born in 1928 as the oldest of three children. His father Yutaka was fascinated by comics and cartoons and so this fascination also reached the children. When Tezuka was seven years old, the family moved to Takarazuka . The city was known for its amusement parks and the prestigious Takarazuka Revue women's theater . Takarazuka Tezuka went to elementary school and was there from other kids bullied because he was small for his age. In 1937, at the age of nine, he drew his first comic, which was called Pin Pin Sei-chan and had autobiographical traits. His family, teachers and classmates valued his drawing skills. In elementary school he occupied himself with drawing and reading comics (he particularly liked the works of the Mangaka Tagawa Suihō ) and with insects. Because he was so fascinated by insects, he added the symbol for insect ( , mushi ) to the Kanji spelling of his first name ( ) . He initially only used this spelling of his name in his comics, as an adult he always wrote his name with the additional symbol.

At the time of the Second World War , like many of his classmates in middle school, he was assigned to a factory to manufacture weapons and had to undergo training as a soldier. After the end of the war, he drew an unmanageable number of comics until he finally published his first manga in 1946 with Mā-chan no Nikkichō ( Eng . "Ma-chan's diary") in the children's newspaper Shokokumin Shimbun . Like all of his early works from 1946, this work was a series of comic strips ( Yonkoma ) and appeared in newspapers. However, Tezuka's goal was to publish mangas with long, continuous plots ( story manga ) in book form, as he had drawn more and more during the war. He was studying medicine on the side and was not yet sure whether he should become a doctor or cartoonist.

Successes as a mangaka

Together with Shichima Saki, a draftsman who was already established in the manga market, Tezuka designed the manga Shin Takarajima (Eng. "The New Treasure Island") based on well-known adventure stories such as Treasure Island , Robinson Crusoe and Tarzan . This was his first book release and also his first published story manga. This work sold over 400,000 times and helped his breakthrough. However, Tezuka was not completely satisfied with Shin Takarajima , since Shichima Sakai deleted part of the plot. This was unsuitable for children.

In the following years he devoted himself to a number of science fiction comics ( Metropolis , Lost World and Kitarubeki Sekai ). He also implemented well-known stories in the form of comics, especially in the late 1940s and early 1950s. He created adaptations of, for example, King Kong (1947), Faust (1949), Bambi (1951), Pinocchio (1952) or Schuld und Atonement (1953). Because he continued to have enough success, he went to Tokyo in 1952 after completing his medical degree to concentrate on his career as a mangaka.

Two years earlier, in 1950, the first chapter of his manga Kimba, the white lion had appeared in the magazine Manga Shōnen . Before that, all of his works had been published directly as books. With Kimba , Tezuka dared to publish a magazine for the first time. Tezuka told of the life of a little white lion who is supposed to rule the jungle after the death of his father. In the next few years Tezuka drew many more, mostly successful manga. First published in 1952, Astro Boy became one of his most famous works. In this 2003 story, a little robot boy often has to do heroic deeds to society. A contrast to Astro Boy was the manga Ribon no Kishi , which - published in 1953 - is considered to be one of the first Shōjo manga. He drew this girl-directed comic in memory of the Takarazuka Revue screenings that Tezuka had seen in his youth. 1954 was the starting year of Tezuka's unfinished life's work Hi no Tori, about a phoenix whose blood can confer immortality .

In 1953, Tezuka moved into the Tokiwa-so apartment complex in Tokyo, where the mangaka Shōtarō Ishinomori , Fujio Akatsuka and the Fujiko Fujio drawing team later lived, making Tokiwa-so a now legendary early center of manga art. With an income of over two million yen a year, Tezuka was the top-earning Japanese draftsman in 1954. In addition to the professional success, but also the stress caused by constant drawing, he married Etsuko Okada in 1959, with whom he had three children: Makoto (* 1959), who later worked as an anime director, Rumiko (* 1964) and Chiiko (* 1969) Tezuka.

Entry into the anime industry

In 1960, his manga Boku no Son Gokū was adapted as a 90-minute cartoon Saiyūki , for which he also made the storyboard, although he was also named as a director. A long-awaited dream had come true for him, as he had wanted to make animated films like Walt Disney or Max Fleischer for years . In 1961 he founded his own anime studio , Tezuka Dōga Production . This was renamed Mushi Production seven months later due to his fondness for insects and the Kanji for insect in his name .

The final breakthrough for Tezuka's anime was not to follow until January 1963, when the first episode of the black and white cartoon adaptation of Astro Boy was broadcast on Japanese television. It was the first time an anime emerged in the form of a television series - this format became the standard for a wide variety of anime over the next several years. Astro Boy was able to increase his popularity many times over through the television series. Merchandise was produced for the popular character and other anime based on Manga Tezukas were produced. Just a few months after Astro Boy first aired in Japan , Tezuka traveled to the United States , where NBC television acquired the broadcast rights for the series from him. A short time later, Astro Boy was also successful in the USA, followed by further broadcasts in numerous countries such as France, Great Britain and Germany. In 1964, Kimba was also converted into an animated series, which, however, was in color in contrast to the Japanese television series that had been broadcast until then.

In 1961, Nara Medical School awarded him a PhD for a paper he had written. Although Tezuka's passion was drawing manga, he continued to be heavily involved in medicine.


In the mid-1960s, Tezuka's popularity slowly declined. This was due to the new genre of Manga, the Gekiga , which were aimed at adult readers with realistic narratives and drawing styles. Artists like Yoshiharu Tsuge , Shirato Sanpei and Shigeru Mizuki were the new "stars" in the manga business, and the alternative manga magazine Garo grew in popularity. Tezuka's manga aimed at children and his typical narrative style, however, were too exhausted. He fell into a creative crisis and even the story of Astro Boy had to take drastic turns until it was finally discontinued in 1968.

Tezuka no longer drew in his usual harmonious and happy style, his new works should be adapted to the Gekiga, especially the works of Yoshihiro Tatsumi . The result were unusual stories with complex storylines, dark themes and many stylistic breaks. He founded the manga magazine COM , which - like Garo - aimed at an older readership with partly alternative manga. Drawers such as Daijirō Mohoroshi , Moto Hagio and Keiko Takemiya worked for the magazine. His manga Hi no Tori , which had previously appeared in Shōnen and Shōjo magazines for younger readers, was one of the magazine's first series; most of the story was eventually published in COM. In the mid-1970s, however, the magazine was discontinued.

Second major creative phase

In the 1970s, Tezuka found a successful concept again, but it was different from his old one. The new stories were complex, had complex characters, and were often aimed at adults. This is how Black Jack came about through a mysterious doctor who charges large sums of money for his respected medical skills. This work attracted attention due to the detailed description of operations and the frequent occurrence of medical terms. Buddha , on whom he worked from 1972 to 1983, tells the life story of Siddhartha Gautama , the founder of Buddhism , and uses this figure as the starting point for the sometimes fictional fates of several people in the 6th century BC. In India. At that time, Tezuka received nicknames such as "Japanese Walt Disney " or " Manga no Kami-sama " (" God of Comics ").

In the early 1970s, the Tezuka Prize was awarded for the first time by the popular Shōnen Jump magazine to promote new talent in drawing. The namesake was the main member of the jury. In 1977 the Kodansha publishing house took on the task of publishing all of Tezuka's works in a series called Complete Works of Tezuka Osamu ( 手塚治虫 漫画 全集 , Tezuka Osamu Manga Zenshū ), which was initially published in 1984 after 300 Volumes has been completed. From 1994 to 1997 another 100 paperbacks were published in this series.

The last few years

In the 1980s, he traveled the world and made Japanese comics better known around the world. Among other things, as a big Disney fan, he was happy about a stay at Disneyland . At that time, Tezuka also drew important works such as Adolf , a World War II story about three different Adolfs - a half-Japanese named Adolf who lives in Germany, a Jewish Adolf, and Adolf Hitler .

However, he also spent a lot of time in the hospital in the 1980s and had to undergo a few operations. The reason for the health problems lay in the stress that drawing manga caused him. And although he continued to work on his comics himself in the hospital, some of his works, such as Phoenix , remained unfinished. He died of cancer on February 8, 1989, at the age of 60. After his death, more and more secondary literature was published about him, and relatives and loved ones gave interviews about him in the media.

However, he only gained international fame after his death, when series such as Dragonball and Sailor Moon triggered an anime and manga boom and his works were also published worldwide.


Osamu Tezuka combined simply drawn bodies with disproportionately displayed eyes. The characters from his early days as a comic artist differ significantly from those of his later works. While the figures in his early days were still drawn round and based on the figures of Walt Disney, from the mid-1970s onwards he devoted himself to more realistic figures. Further differences between the early and late phases of Tezuka can be seen in the structure of the stories, the setting and the inspirations. In the 1940s and 1950s, Tezuka used classic methods of building tension in his stories; in his late creative phase, his stories were shaped by interwoven narrative threads. His first manga played mainly in science fiction and fairy tale worlds, later in realistically depicted or historically important locations.

Even his inspirations did not stay the same throughout his work. From 1947 onwards, Tezuka was mainly influenced by the films Walt Disney, early Hollywood films, fairy tales and adventure novels in his mangas aimed at children. At the time, he used an extremely cinematic narrative style in his comics. From the mid-1960s he was more influenced by writers such as Edgar Allan Poe and Franz Kafka , as well as by some Gekiga , and built philosophical objections into his work. In the 1980s he read biographies of internationally famous personalities and documentaries of historical events.

Tezuka's way of portraying black people in his early works was criticized; as stupid savages who don't know whether to belong to the good or the bad. Tezuka Production, the company that manages his estate, always points out when he publishes his works abroad that Tezuka was not a racist person, but generally treated his manga characters in a humorous and unrealistic way.


His experiences during the Second World War made a great impression on the young Tezuka, so that the basic foundation of his work is a strongly pronounced humanism . For example, Astro Boy is received as a committed appeal against racism. The war is sometimes addressed very directly, for example in Adolf and a section of Apollo no Uta , both of which can also be classified as Holocaust dramas.

Another important complex of topics comes from Tezuka's medical training, for example Black Jack is about an eccentric black market doctor with an idiosyncratic value system and Kirihito is about corruption in the medical world. Likewise traverse metaphysical themes his work; in particular his later works such as Buddha and Phoenix treat religion and Far Eastern philosophy in an epic manner. Intense and sometimes very complicated interpersonal relationships also play an important role and, as one of the first mainstream mangaka, Tezuka explicitly deals with homosexuality in the thriller MW from 1976-78. The explicitly political thriller Ayako , inspired by the gekiga and neorealism , tells the story of an old family of landowners in immediate post-war Japan. Little by little, the dark secrets of the morally corrupt family are revealed and Tezuka even goes into incestuous relationships. Subplots deal with the conflicts between family members, between individualism and collectivism, and the relationship between communism and traditional Japanese families and values.

Tezuka is still valued today for its extraordinary range of topics and was considered a highly respected intellectual in Japanese society during his lifetime, who occasionally got involved in public discourses . He described himself as politically progressive .

The star system

A special feature of Tezuka's oeuvre is his so-called star system, named after the practice of classic Hollywood cinema to train certain actors to quickly become recognizable stars of a certain role. The appearance of the Tezuka stars is consistent and the character traits are constant. For example, the character Kenichi is the main character of the plot in both Kitarubeki sekai and other works such as Kimba, the white lion . Frequently recurring villains include the impulsive Hamegg or the cracked Acetylene Lamp , which can be easily recognized by its square face and the candle in the dent in the back of its head. In this way, Tezuka creates a strong meta-reference in his work.

The use of the system implies that he regards the comic characters as a kind of actor and thus emphasizes the fictional character of his work. He himself also appears as a star and gives introductions to re-published chapters of Astro Boy , in which he sometimes talks to the characters and even prepares them for the story. In addition to being the author of the comics, Tezuka also appears in other roles, for example as a taxi driver in Adolf . Another frequently encountered star is the Hyōtan-Tsugi , a kind of mixture of pork and pumpkin, which, as a comic relief, provides slapstick moments. The design is based on a drawing by Tezuka's sister.

He used the star system primarily in the first half of his work. In his creative phase, which was influenced by the Gekiga scene, he tends to fall back on completely new designs, with the exception of Adolf , for example, in which, for example, Acetylene Lamp appears as Gestapo officer Herr Lampe .


Osamu Tezuka influenced many other draftsmen from 1947 onwards (including for example Moto Hagio , Keiji Nakazawa , Shinji Nagashima , Fujiko Fujio , Hitoshi Iwaaki and Nobuhiro Watsuki ).

Even today, Tezuka is valued by numerous manga fans above all for its extremely productive output, its unconventional technology and the creation of several completely new manga genres. Because of this continued popularity, many of his manga are still being adapted to anime today. After a long wait by Tezuka fans, an anime film about Metropolis was created in 2001 (published in German-speaking countries as Robotic Angel ) and in 2004 an anime series about Hi no Tori . From October 2004 to September 2006, a blackjack anime was also successfully broadcast on Japanese television . His new blackjack boom also resulted in several remakes of the manga (by Narumi Kakinouchi, among others ).

the Tezuka Museum in Takarazuka

After Tezuka's death in 1990, a solo exhibition at the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo presented the life's work of a mangaka for the first time. In 1994 , an Osamu Tezuka Museum was opened in Takarazuka , where Tezuka grew up. In 1996, this exceeded the limit of one million museum visits.

The movie The Lion King from Disney Studios has some similarities to Tezuka's Kimba, the white lion . Some scenes are said to have been taken directly from the manga. Tezuka Productions waived a lawsuit because Tezuka himself had been influenced by Walt Disney.

The Osamu Tezuka Culture Prize has existed since June 1997 . This is awarded annually by the Asahi Shimbun newspaper to outstanding manga works. The first winners were Moto Hagio and Fujiko F. Fujio . In 2005, the thriller Pluto by Naoki Urasawa, based on Tezuka's Astro Boy , won the award.


During his career and after his death, Tezuka received numerous awards for his popularity and exceptional performance in the manga and anime fields. Including the following:

Works (selection)


  • Mā-chan no Nikkichō ( マ ア チ ャ ン の 日記帳 , 1946)
  • Shin Takarajima (新 宝島 , 1947, 1 volume)
  • Mahō Yashiki ( 魔法屋 敷 , 1948, 1 volume)
  • Gessekai Shinshi ( 月 世界 紳士 , 1948, 1 volume)
  • Lost World ( ロ ス ト ワ ー ル ド , rosuto vārudo , 1948, 2 volumes)
  • Metropolis (メ ト ロ ポ リ ス , metoroporisu , 1949, 1 volume)
  • Faust ( フ ァ ウ ス ト , fausuto , 1950, 1 volume)
  • Kimba, the white lion (ジ ャ ン グ ル 大帝 , Janguru Taitei , 1950–1954, 3 volumes)
  • Kitarubeki sekai (来 る べ き 世界 , 1951, 2 volumes)
  • Bambi ( バ ン ビ , 1951, 1 volume)
  • Captain Atom ( ア ト ム 大使 , 1951–1952)
  • Boku no Son Gokū ( ぼ く の そ ん ご く う , 1952–1959, 8 volumes)
  • Astro Boy (鉄 腕 ア ト ム , Tetsuwan Atomu , 1952–1968, 21 volumes)
  • Ribon no Kishi (リ ボ ン の 騎士 , 1953–1956, 3 volumes)
  • Hi no Tori (火 の 鳥 , 1954–1957, 1967–1973, 1976–1981, 1986–1988, 17 volumes)
  • Big X ( ビ ッ グ X , 1963–1966, 4 volumes)
  • W3 (1965–1966, 3 volumes)
  • Vampires ( バ ン パ イ ヤ , banpīya , 1966–1967, 4 volumes)
  • Dororo (ど ろ ろ , 1967–1968, 4 volumes)
  • Kūki no soko ( 空 気 の 底 , 1968–1970, 2 volumes)
  • Umi no Triton ( 海 の ト リ ト ン , 1969–1971, 4 volumes)
  • The Crater ( ザ ・ ク レ ー タ ー , 1969–1970, 3 volumes)
  • Fushigi na Melmo ( ふ し ぎ な メ ル モ , 1970–1971, 2 volumes)
  • Kirihito (1970–1971)
  • Ayako ( 奇 子 , 1972–1973, 3 volumes)
  • Barbara , 1973, 2 volumes
  • Buddha (ブ ッ ダ , 1972–1983, 14 volumes)
  • Black Jack (ブ ラ ッ ク ・ ジ ャ ッ ク , Burakku Jacku , 1973–1984, 25 volumes)
  • Mittsume ga Tōru ( 三 つ 目 が と お る , 1974–1978, 13 volumes)
  • Mw (1976–1978, 3 volumes)
  • Uniko ( ユ ニ コ , 1976–1979, 2 volumes)
  • Don Dracula ( ド ン ・ ド ラ キ ュ ラ , 1979, 3 volumes)
  • Nanairo Inko ( 七色 い ん こ , 1981–1983, 7 volumes)
  • Hidamari no Ki ( 陽 だ ま り の 樹 , 1981–1985, 11 volumes)
  • Adolf (ア ド ル フ に 告 ぐ , Adorufu ni Tsugu , 1983, 4 volumes)
  • Midnight ( ミ ッ ド ナ イ ト , 1986–1987, 6 volumes)
  • Gringo ( グ リ ン ゴ , 1987–1989, 3 volumes)
  • Ludwig B. ( ル ー ド ウ ィ ヒ・ B, 1987–1989, 2 volumes)
  • Neo-Faust (ネ オ ・ フ ァ ウ ス ト , 1989, 1 volume)


  • Saiyūki (movie,西遊記 , 1960, storyboard)
  • Aru Machikado no Monogatari (feature film, あ る 街角 の 物語 , 1962, producer, screenplay)
  • Arabian Knight: Sindbad no Bōken (Movie, ア ラ ビ ア ン ナ イ ト シ ン ド バ ッ ド の 冒 険 , 1962, screenplay)
  • Astro Boy (TV series,鉄 腕 ア ト ム Tetsuwan Atomu , 1963–1966, directed several episodes)
  • Shin Takarajima (新 宝島 , 1965, director)
  • Sen'ichiya Monogatari (feature film, 千 夜 一夜 物語 , 1969, producer, screenplay)
  • Cleopatra (feature film,ク レ オ パ ト ラ , 1970, director, screenplay)
  • Hi no Tori 2772: Ai no Cosmoszone (feature film, 火 の 鳥 2772 愛 の コ ス モ ゾ ー ン , 1980, director, screenplay)
  • Unico - Das Hörnchen (movie,ユ ニ コ , 1981, director)
  • Bagi (TV special, 1984)
  • Muramasa (short film, 村 正 , 1987, director, screenplay)
  • Mori no Densetsu ( OVA , 森 の 伝 説 , 1987, director, screenplay, character design)


  • Susanne Phillips: Tezuka Osamu. Figures, themes and narrative structures in the entire Manga work. iudicum, Munich 2000, ISBN 3-89129-810-2 .
  • Frederik L. Schodt : The Astro Boy Essays. Osamu Tezuka, Mighty Atom and the Manga / Anime Revolution . Stone Bridge Press, Berkeley 2007

Web links

Commons : Osamu Tezuka  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Biography in Flash at Tezuka Osamu @ World ( Memento of the original from September 24, 2005 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / en.tezuka.co.jp
  2. a b Jaqueline Berndt : Manga phenomenon . edition q, Berlin 1995, ISBN 3-86124-289-3 , p. 190.
  3. 東 映 長 編 研究 第 11 回 白 川 大作 イ ン タ ビ ュ ー (3) 『西遊記』 と 各 ス タ ッ フ の 活躍 . In: WEB ア ニ メ ス タ イ ル . Retrieved April 10, 2014 (Japanese, interview with Daisaku Shirakawa).
  4. Gutierrez, Jon: The Real Astro Boy Story: Depressing as Hell, accessed March 4, 2014
  5. Schodt, p. 136
  6. Hyōtan-Tsugi's character page , accessed March 4, 2014