License Request Day: Tezuka Appreciation Week edition

December 17, 2010

In observation of Kate (The Manga Critic) Dacey’s Tezuka Appreciation Week, I thought I’d devote this week’s license request to a round-up of enticing, as-yet-unpublished-in-English works by the man in the beret.

This is certainly not the first time Osamu Tezuka has been the focus of this feature. Sick as you may be of hearing me say it, I won’t be fully satisfied as a nerd until someone publishes Princess Knight in English.

Among the many wonderful things we can learn from the French is just how much great Tezuka manga there still is to be licensed. Among the horrible things we can learn from the French is how far behind them we are.

Gringo was a finalist for the 2009 Prix Asie.

Sarutobi has been recognized at Angoulême in 2010.

And earlier this year, I was motivated to cherry-pick four other unlicensed Tezuka titles for discussion and pining, including La Femme Insecte, which I love for its cover alone. [Update: Kindly folks on Twitter reminded me that this has been licensed by Vertical and will be published as The Book of Human Insects.]

The comments of that last post drew my attention to one of Tezuka’s works for a younger audience, which I tend to neglect in favor of his deranged and sordid tales for adults. I’m talking about the seven-volume, awesomely titled Rainbow Parakeet.

It’s about a brilliant actor who uses his talents for thievery. The invaluable Tezuka in English summarizes the series as follows:

“In addition to being a cops-and-robbers action manga, the series Rainbow Parakeet is also a thorough examination of theater and film on the part of Osamu Tezuka, who was fascinated by both.”

Our anti-hero is pursued by a determined woman detective, which sounds like a refreshing change of pace. And if all of that hasn’t convinced you, let’s head back to Tezuka in English for this persuasive fact:

“Each story in the manga is based upon a famous play or movie, with a wide range of source material, including Shakespeare, Noh drama, Greek tragedy, Kabuki comedy, film, theater of the absurd, and others. Tezuka was an expert in various types of drama, and therefore wove tremendous amounts of knowledge and thought on the subject into each issue of Rainbow Parakeet.”

It originally ran in Akita Shoten’s Shônen Champion.