Phoenix 4

March 8, 2005

I really, really love this series. Last volume was a little iffy, but looking back on it, I think the planet of eternal punishment was awesome, and so was the historical manga first part. This one switches back to the historical manga setting, still fairly far back in Japan’s history. The event that takes place, the building of Japan’s giant Buddha statue, was something I’d actually heard of before, so that made it even better. Technically there’s two main characters and a handful of others that come in and out, and the two main characters are absolutely wonderful.

The story opens with a father and his newborn son, who he tries to carry up the mountain to get a blessing, but unfortunately he falls to his death and drops the baby along the way. Later, when he’s a teenager, it turns out that the boy’s mother had died fairly early in his life too, leaving him orphaned, and when his father dropped him down the mountain he lost a limb and one of his eyes and gained a large scar on his face, making him horribly disfigured and crippled. The town is very unkind to him, and after taking abuse from them he snaps and turns into a murderer and flees the villiage. At this point, he runs into the second main character, a kind sculptor, and he stabs him in the arm, severing his tendon and making him lose use of it.

Eventually, as the story unfolds, the two encounter each other a few other times, and it follows both their paths, which wind up running fairly close together. There’s also a lot of Buddhist themes in it, mainly that of karmic rewards through rebirth, where you will be reborn as other forms based on how well you’ve lived your life. I’m going to have a hard time reviewing Phoenix, because it’s just such a good series, and I can’t quite explain why.

I need to make note of a few errors I’ve been picking up along the way… There were a lot in this one, misspelling “Saruta” as “Sarvta,” a misstep in the dialogue when he’s talking about what hand he can use versus what hand he used to use (I think this was an issue of the translation not jiving with the flipped art), and there was a “d” missing from the word “disaster” at one point. There were some errors in the other volumes as well… number three I think had a blank speech balloon at one point, and two and three both might have had one spelling or other small error like that each. Just so I’ll remember later.

On another note, a friend of mine who absolutely hates manga (and most other things) read volume one of this series and loved it. I can’t quite explain how full of hate his is for the world, but this was quite an accomplishment on Phoenix’s part.

5 Responses to “Phoenix 4”

  1. Pirkaf Says:

    I started reading this book yesterday and finished in one day. One of the best manga books I’ve ever read, that’s for sure. BUT, I think I still slightly prefer Tezuka sensei’s Buddha series and I also prefer sci-fi stories within Phoenix series. And I don’t believe that people reincarnate as animals. Oh, I should also write some praises because it still is one of the best mangas I’ve read. The artwork has improved since previous books, some pages are a pleasure, especially the statues of Buddha and ancient japanese architecture. As for the story, I can’t complain about anything. I’m sure looking forward to the next book. I’m glad bought all the Pheonix books.

  2. Connie Says:

    Wow, I’m really, REALLY going to have to catch myself up on Buddha. I think this is probably still the best volume of Tezuka manga I’ve ever read… I have a personal preference for the sordid stories in Ode to Kirihito and MW, but “Karma” trumps them as far as story and art go.

    I always think to myself that I didn’t really care for the sci-fi stories in Phoenix, but I remember liking all the later ones and disliking things like the massively long two-volume “Civil War” history segment, so I think I should probably revise my opinions. I liked most or all of the later volumes of Phoenix though, so it’s hard for me to pick and choose favorites aside from Karma and a few really random and outrageous story setups I remember specifically. Karma was my favorite overall since it was just so beautifully put together.

  3. Pirkaf Says:

    Yes, I would advise waiting for the next Vertical sale on rightstuf and buying as much Buddha as you can.. ^_^

    Ode to Kirihito and MW are awesome too, that’s for sure.. it’s really difficult to prefer anything, we’re talking about the God of manga here! ^_^

  4. Connie Says:

    Adolf, too, is one of his best. I always somehow forget about that one, but someone commented and reminded me. It’s one of his last series and does just about everything right as far as story, characters, horror, emotion, just… everything. It’s out of print right now, though, which is extremely unfortunate.

  5. Pirkaf Says:

    Oh yes, it’s very unfortunate, I would have bought it otherwise, of course. I hope they will reprint it eventually..

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