Osamu Tezuka was born the eldest of three children in Toyonaka City, Osaka. His nickname was gashagasha-atama (gashagasha is slang for messy, atama means head). His mother often comforted him by telling him to look to the blue skies, giving him confidence. His mother's stories inspired his creativity as well. Tezuka grew up in Takarazuka City, Hyōgo and his mother often took him to the Takarazuka Theatre. The Takarazuka Revue is performed by women, including the male characters. The Takarazuka Revue is known for its romantic musicals usually aimed at a female audience, thus having a large impact on the later works of Tezuka, including his costuming designs. He has said that he has a profound "spirit of nostalgia" for Takarazuka.
Tezuka started to draw comics around his second year of elementary school. Around his fifth year he found a bug named "Osamushi". It so resembled his name that he adopted osamushi as his pen name. He came to the realization that he could use manga as a means of helping to convince people to care for the world. After World War II, he created his first piece of work (at age 17), Diary of Ma-chan and then Shin Takarajima(New Treasure Island), which began the golden age of manga, a craze comparable to American comic books at the time.
As an indication of his productivity, the comprises some 400 volumes, over 80,000 pages; even so, it is not comprehensive. His complete oeuvre includes over 700 volumes with more than 150,000 pages.
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.
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). Tezuka could not afford to leave his studio for a year to live in England, so he refused. 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.
Tezuka died of stomach cancer on 9 February 1989 in Tokyo, coming about one month after the death of Hirohito, who had been the Shōwa Emperor of Japan, including during World War II. His last words were: "I'm begging you, let me work!"
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.
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, Mauricio 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 in the jungles of the Amazon. This was the first time that Tezuka Productions has allowed overseas animators to use Tezuka's characters.
Tezuka is known for his imaginative stories and stylized Japanese adaptations of western literature with reading novels and watching films that came from the West. His early works included manga versions of Disney movies such as Bambi. Tezuka "cinematic" page layouts, influenced by Milt Gross' early graphic novel He Done Her Wrong which he read as child became a common characteristic for many manga artists who followed in Tezuka's footsteps. His work, like that of other manga creators, was sometimes gritty and violent.
Metropolis, 1949. One of Tezuka's early science fiction works, about a private detective, Higeoyaji, who tries to take care of Mitchy, a gender switching robot, after its creator is killed. It would be made into a 2001 animated film. The 2001 film was heavily influenced by the Fritz Lang film Metropolis, as well as Tezuka's manga.
Jungle Emperor, 1950–54. Better known by these other names in the English speaking world as Kimba the White Lion, this manga established one of Tezuka's most iconic creations. His first full-scale long serial, Jungle Taitei follows the adventures of Leo the white lion as he seeks to succeed his father, killed by a hunter, as king of the jungle. In 1965, Tezuka's Mushi Productions, financed by NBC Enterprises, produced a 52-episode anime series loosely based on the manga. The series was the first anime produced in color. This was followed immediately by a 26-episode sequel, produced by Mushi Productions alone. This sequel was dubbed into English in 1984 under the title Leo the Lion. A full-length animated film based on the last half of Tezuka's original manga was released theatrically in 1997 under the title Jungle Emperor Leo. A new 30 minute short was shown on Fuji TV on September 5, 2009. It was directed by Goro Taniguchi creator of Code Geass and Planetes.
Mighty Atom(Astro Boy), 1952–68. A sequel to Captain ATOM (1951), with Atom renamed Astro Boy in the U.S. as its main character. Eventually, Astro Boy would become Tezuka's most famous creation. He created the nuclear-powered, yet peace-loving, boy robot first after being punched in the face by a drunken GI. In 1963, Astro Boy made its debut as the first domestically produced animated program on Japanese television. The 30-minute weekly program (of which 193 episodes were produced) led to the first craze for anime in Japan. In America, the TV series (which consisted of 104 episodes licensed from the Japanese run) was also a hit, becoming the first Japanese animation to be shown on U.S. television, although the U.S. producers downplayed and disguised the show's Japanese origins. Several other Astro Boy series have been made since, as well as a 2009 CGI-animated feature film Astro Boy.
Princess Knight, 1953–56. A gender-bending adventure drama about Princess Sapphire, a girl who must pretend to be a boy—and whose body, in fact, has two human souls; a boy's and a girl's. The manga was inspired by the themes and styles of musicals by the all-girl Takarazuka Revue, which Tezuka had watched in his youth. Ribon no Kishi itself established many of the themes and styles of later shōjo manga (girls' manga), such as its affinity for androgynous heroes, and is sometimes referred to as "the Mother of all shōjo manga." It was made into an anime TV series in 1967, and the anime has been dubbed into English and sporadically broadcast on TV in the United States and other English-speaking countries; also known in English as Choppy and the Princess. The quality of the show's art is still impressive, even today. In spite of the series' obscurity in the United States due to legal and distribution problems, the series has turned out to be one of Tezuka's most popular creations practically everywhere else. It's known in Spanish-speaking countries as La princesa caballero, in Germany as Choppy und die Prinzessin, in Italy as La Principessa Zaffiro, in Portugal and Brazil as Princesa e o Cavaleiro, in France as "Prince Saphir" and in Poland under no less than five different titles, including Czopi i Księżniczka. A new musical version of Princess Knight was performed in August 2006 starring the members of the all-female pop group Morning Musume. An excerpt from the manga was published in the June 19, 2007 issue of Shojo Beat from VIZ Media. The entire manga had previously been released in bilingual (English/Japanese) volumes from Kodansha Bilingual Comics. As of 2011, Vertical acquired the rights to Princess Knight for the North American market.
Hi no Tori(Phoenix), 1956–89. Tezuka's most profound and ambitious work, dealing with man's quest for immortality, ranging from the distant past to the far future. The central character is the Phoenix, the physical manifestation of the cosmos, who carries within itself the power of immortality; either granted by the Phoenix or taken from the Phoenix by drinking a small amount of its blood. Other characters appear and reappear throughout the series; usually due to their reincarnation. The work remained unfinished at the time of Tezuka's death in 1989. Phoenix has been filmed several times, most notably as Phoenix 2772 (1980). Baku Yumemakura was influenced by Phoenix (manga). Baku Yumemakura would go on to write the script for Boku no Son Goku.
Twin Knight, 1958. Twin Knight was a sequel to Princess Knight, and takes place several years after the end of the original series. In Twin Knight Princess Sapphire is now Queen Sapphire and is married to Frantz, her love interest in the original series. The main characters in Twin Knight are the twin children of Sapphire and Frantz, Prince Daisy and Princess Violetta. In keeping with the theme of the original series, following Prince Daisy's kidnapping, Princess Violetta must pretend to be both of them, all the while trying to discover the whereabouts of her brother. Although Twin Knight was originally published under the same Ribon no Kishi title during its short run, the title was changed in 1960 when the series was collected into a single volume. Ever since then it has been regarded as a separate series. No television version has ever been produced.
Cleopatra: Queen of Sex, 1970. The movie told the story of Cleopatra and her numerous romantic encounters with Julius Caesar and the other men in her life. When the film was released in the United States, American distributors released it under the title Cleopatra: Queen of Sex with an X rating.
Buddha, 1972–83, is Tezuka's unique interpretation of the life of Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. The critically acclaimed series is often referred to as a gritty portrayal of the Buddha's life. The series began in September 1972 and ended in December 1983, as one of Tezuka's last epic manga works. Nearly three decades after the manga was completed, an anime film adaptation was released in 2011.
Black Jack, 1973–83. The story of Black Jack, a talented surgeon who operates illegally, using radical and supernatural techniques to combat rare afflictions. Black Jack received the Japan Cartoonists' Association Special Award in 1975 and the Koudansha Manga Award in 1977. Three Black Jack TV movies were released between 2000-01. In fall 2004, an anime TV series was aired in Japan with 61 episodes, releasing another movie afterward. A new series, titled Black Jack 21, started broadcasting on April 10, 2006. In September 2008, the first volume of the manga had been published in English by Vertical Publishing and more volumes are being published to this day.
The Osamu Tezuka Manga Museum
The Osamu Tezuka Manga Museum (宝塚市立手塚治虫記念館?, lit. "Takarazuka's Tezuka Osamu Memorial Hall") was inaugurated on April 25, 1994, and has three floors (15069.47 ft²). In the basement there is an "Animation Workshop" in which visitors can make their own animation, and a mockup of the city of Takarazuka and a replica of the table where Osamu Tezuka worked.
On the ground floor on the way before the building's entrance, are imitations of the hands and feet of several characters from Tezuka (as in a true walk of fame) and on the inside, the entry hall, a replica of Princess Knight's furniture. On the same floor, is a permanent exhibition of manga and a room for the display of anime. The exhibition is divided into two parts: Osamu Tezuka and the city of Takarazuka and Osamu Tezuka, the author.
On the first floor are held several exhibitions and are available a manga library, with five hundred works of Tezuka (some foreign editions are also present), a video library and a lounge with a decor inspired by Kimba the White Lion.
There is also a center of glass that represents the planet Earth and is based on a book written by him in his childhood called "Our Earth of Glass".
Tezuka is a descendent of Hattori Hanzo, a famous ninja and samurai who faithfully served Tokugawa Ieyasu during the Sengoku period in Japan. His son Macoto Tezuka, would later become a film and anime director. Tezuka gave guidance to 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, who wanted to hire Tezuka. 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.
^Frederik L. Schodt (2007). The Astro Boy Essays: Osamu Tezuka, Mighty Atom, and the Manga/Anime Revolution. Stone Bridge Press, Inc. p. 141. ISBN9781933330549. "His family was associated with a Zen Buddhist sect, and Tezuka is buried in a Tokyo Buddhist cemetery, but his views on religion were actually quite agnostic and as flexible as his views on politics."
Helen McCarthy. The Art of Osamu Tezuka: God of Manga. (New York: Abrams ComicArts, 2009). ISBN 9780810982499. Biography and presentation of Tezuka's works.