I have to be honest. I am not a fan of comics/manga/graphic novels. I find the visuals, while beautiful, distracting to the flow of a quick paced story.
So when I plunged into Buddha by Osamu Tezuka, the “Godfather of Japanese graphic novels”, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Was it going to be a historical novel? Sure, I know a little about Buddha as Siddhartha and his 8-fold path, but not too much. Was it going to be a fast-paced action packed graphic novel with lots of ‘thuds’ and ‘booms’? Batman returns? Or were all the characters going to be rendered Manga style?
To be honest, the books are a combination of all of the above. There are excellent, excellent, excellent drawings by Osamu Tezuka. Beautiful sketches of such intricate detail that it blows my mind. In my opinion, only a Japanese would be able to perfect a single illustration, one out of perhaps 10,000. It’s an insight into the patience of Buddhism, I suppose. Or how meaningless life is. The characters are slightly Manga style, but not over the top. Moreover, there is an emotion captured in each illustration that is hard to verbalise. It is beautiful!!The novels are a combination of historical fact and fiction. Fun, new characters emerge and cross paths with the Buddha and add a fantastic element to the stories.
The language, surprisingly, has a touch of American slang. Rowdy street kids talking in street language. There is a simplification of complex systems which is slightly problematic (caste systems, shudra, brahmins, etc). This, I suppose, is to put the story in social-historic context for foreign readers.
Overall review: I have only read the first book yet, but can say with assurance that it is a good, fun read. And the illustrations are BRILLIANT! Definitely pick it up for the visuals.
Buy on Amazon: The Buddha Box Set – Rs 1799