Should You Read: Bomba! by Osamu Tezuka


Others have mentioned it, but this is an obscure pull from Tezuka's collection for Viz to publish, seemingly at random, 52 years after its original release. I believe this is from Tezuka's gekiga phase.
Like many gekiga, it is a story about an angry, misunderstood, and secretly special young man who punishes the world that hurt him. This angry young man's special power is that his anger manifests as a psychic horse that gallops down his enemies. It's such an on-the-nose portrayal of toxic masculinity and misogyny that it's hard to imagine someone taking the time to write and draw this and still missing the point so hard at the end. Tezuka isn't famous for being a master of self-reflection, though. 

Tezuka is famous for being the father of manga, and honestly, even his worst is still captivating. I love the old art style and blunt storytelling. I love the sheer creativity Tezuka brought to his projects. I can't say this is a must-read for manga fans or even Tezuka fans, but it is an interesting relic of its time. 

Speaking of its time, I was particularly interested in the references made to World War II and the scapegoating of Korean nationals living in Japan. It's a part of history Japan has long struggled to reckon with but for an angry young man in the 70s, the shadow of "The War" loomed over everything. Bomba! isn't explicitly about World War II, but its casual references are a rare window into what ordinary people thought and how they talked about it. 

I would certainly recommend this to anyone interested in the history of manga or the history of Tezuka. However, it does not stand on its own. Casual fans of manga, or younger fans who have never heard of Astro Boy will not get much out of this. They may even find it offensive.

This is a cross-post from my Goodreads


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