Combines chapters 1-19 of Ayako.
Opening a few years after the end of World War II and covering almost a quarter-century, here is comics master Osamu Tezuka’s most direct and sustained critique of Japan’s fate in the aftermath of total defeat. Unusually devoid of cartoon premises yet shot through with dark voyeuristic humor, Ayako looms as a pinnacle of Naturalist literature in Japan with few peers even in prose, the striking heroine a potent emblem of things left unseen following the war.
The year is 1949. Crushed by the Allied Powers, occupied by General MacArthur’s armies, Japan has been experiencing massive change. Agricultural reform is dissolving large estates and redistributing plots to tenant farmers—terrible news, if you’re landowners like the archconservative Tenge family. For patriarch Sakuemon, the chagrin of one of his sons coming home alive from a P.O.W. camp instead of having died for the Emperor is topped only by the revelation that another of his is consorting with “the reds.” What solace does he have but his youngest Ayako, apple of his eye, at once daughter and granddaughter?
Delving into some of the period’s true mysteries, which remain murky to this day, Tezuka’s Zolaesque tapestry delivers thrill and satisfaction in spades. Another page-turning classic from an irreplaceable artist who was as astute an admirer of the Russian masters and Nordic playwrights as of Walt Disney, Ayako is a must-read for comics connoisseurs and curious literati.
Osamu TezukaOsamu 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 still then considered a frivolous medium. His many early masterpieces include the series known in the U.S. as Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion. From the early seventies on, he increasingly targeted older readers as well, employing a grittier style and mature themes. With his sweeping vision, deftly intertwined plots, and indefatigable commitment to human dignity, Tezuka elevated manga to an art form. Since his passing, his international stature has only grown, his eight-volume epic Buddha winning multiple Eisner and Harvey Awards in the United States.
Mari Morimoto has been translating Japanese comics into English professionally from before “manga” was a buzzword. Her resume encompasses some of the most recognized titles including Dragonball, Inuyasha, and Naruto. Also a practicing veterinarian, she lives in New York City.