Osamu Tezuka (手塚 治虫; November 3, 1928 - February 9, 1989) was a Japanese author, artist, animator, producer, director, medical doctor, and activist. He was known as the “Manga no Gaddofaza” - literally meaning "godfather of manga" - and was considered to be the Japanese Walt Disney. His work would lead to him becoming one of the most influential and innovative manga artists and animators of his day. His works would also become some of the most popular manga publications along with spawning some of worlds' most well known characters.
Formative Years (1928 - 1946) On November 3, 1928 Osamu Tezuka was born the eldest son of Yukata and Fumiko Tezuka in the Osaka Prefecture. At a young age in his second grade of elementary school Tezuka began illustrating characters and his first comics he sees on film finding great inspiration from Disney. His first comic in elementary school became known as Pin Pin Sei-Chan.
Tezuka continued illustrating into his teen years. By the age of 15 Tezuka, began to illustrate photo-realistic portraits of insects such as "A Color Picture Book of Beatles." At the age of 17 Tezuka, drew two manga: "Until The Day of Victory" and "Ghost Man," further developing his manga skills.
His complete oeuvre includes over 700 volumes with more than 150,000 pages. A complete list of his works can be found on the Tezuka Osamu Manga Museum website.
When he was younger, Tezuka's arms swelled up and he became ill. He was treated and cured by a doctor, which made him want to be a doctor. However, he began his career as a manga artist while a university student, drawing his first professional work while at school. At a crossing point, he asked his mother whether he should look into doing manga full-time or whether he should become a doctor. At the time, being a manga author was not a particularly rewarding job. The answer his mother gave was: "You should work doing the thing you like most of all." Tezuka decided to devote himself to manga creation on a full-time basis. He graduated from Osaka University and obtained his medical degree, but he would later use his medical and scientific knowledge to enrich his sci-fi manga, such as Black Jack.
Tezuka's creations include Astro Boy (Mighty Atom in Japan), Black Jack, Princess Knight, Phoenix (Hi no Tori in Japan), Kimba the White Lion (Jungle Emperor in Japan), Unico, Message to Adolf, The Amazing 3 and Buddha. His "life's work" was Phoenix—a story of life and death that he began in the 1950s and continued until his death.
In January 1965, Tezuka received a letter from American film director Stanley Kubrick, who had watched Astro Boy and wanted to invite Tezuka to be the art director of his next movie, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Although flattered by Kubrick's invitation, Tezuka could not afford to leave his studio for a year to live in England, so he had to turn it down. Although he could not work on it, he loved the film, and would play its soundtrack at maximum volume in his studio to keep him awake during long nights of work.
Many young manga artists once lived in the apartment where Tezuka lived, Tokiwa-sō. The residents included Shotaro Ishinomori, Fujio Akatsuka, and Abiko Motou and Hiroshi Fujimoto (who worked together under the pen name Fujiko Fujio).
Tezuka was a descendent of Hattori Hanzō, a famous ninja and samurai who faithfully served Tokugawa Ieyasu during the Sengoku period in Japan. His son Makoto Tezuka became a film and anime director. Tezuka guided many well-known manga artists such as Shotaro Ishinomori and Go Nagai.
Tezuka enjoyed bug-collecting, entomology, Walt Disney, baseball, and licensed the "grown up" version of his character Kimba the White Lion as the logo for the Seibu Lions of the Nippon Professional Baseball League. Tezuka met Walt Disney in person at the 1964 New York World's Fair. In a 1986 entry in his personal diary, Tezuka stated that Disney wanted to hire him for a potential science fiction project. Tezuka was a fan of Superman and was made honorary chairman of the Superman Fan Club in Japan.
Tezuka was an agnostic, but was buried in a Buddhist cemetery in Tokyo.
Tezuka died of stomach cancer on 9 February 1989 in Tokyo. His last words were: "I'm begging you, let me work!", spoken to a nurse who had tried to take away his drawing equipment.
Impact and Legacy
The city of Takarazuka, Hyōgo, where Tezuka grew up, opened a museum in his memory. Stamps were issued in his honor in 1997. Also, beginning in 2003, the Japanese toy company Kaiyodo began manufacturing a series of figurines of Tezuka's creations, including Princess Knight, Unico, the Phoenix, Dororo, Marvelous Melmo, Ambassador Magma and many others. To date three series of the figurines have been released.
His legacy has continued to be honored among Manga artists and animators. Artists such as Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away) and Akira Toriyama (Dr. Slump and Dragon Ball) have cited Tezuka as inspiration for their works.
From 2003 to 2009, Naoki Urasawa and Takashi Nagasaki adapted an arc of Astro Boy into the murder mystery series Pluto.
Tezuka was a personal friend (and apparent artistic influence) of Brazilian comic book artist Mauricio de Sousa. In 2012, Maurício published a two-issue story arc in the Monica Teen comic book featuring some of Tezuka's main characters, such as Astro Boy, Black Jack, Sapphire and Kimba, joining Monica and her friends in an adventure in the Amazon rainforest against a smuggling organization chopping down hundreds of trees. This was the first time that Tezuka Productions has allowed overseas artists to use Tezuka's characters.
- 1957 Shogakukan Manga Award for Manga Seminar on Biology and Biiko-chan
- 1975 Bungeishunjū manga Award
- 1975 Japan Cartoonists Association Award—Special Award
- 1977 Kodansha Manga Award for Black Jack and The Three-Eyed One
- 1980 Inkpot Award, San Diego Comic-Con
- 1983 Shogakukan Manga Award for Hidamari no Ki
- 1984 Animafest Zagreb Grand Prize for Jumping
- 1985 Hiroshima International Animation Festival for Onboro-Film
- 1986 Kodansha Manga Award for Message to Adolf
- 1989 Nihon SF Taisho Award – Special Award
- 1989 Order of the Sacred Treasure, 3rd class (posthumous)
- 2004 Eisner Award for Buddha (vols. 1–2)
- 2005 Eisner Award for Buddha (vols. 3–4)
- 2009 Eisner Award for Dororo
- 2014 Eisner Award for The Mysterious Underground Men