Review on Ode to Kirihito: Volume 1
Written by Osamu Tezuka
Translation by Camellia Nieh
Published by Vertical Press
Review copy provided by the publisher.
If anyone knew about the possibility of a disease to cause a human to looking like a dog, there are a couple of appropriate reactions. Should they keep it under wraps not tell others, warn others of this danger or should they exploit it? This is a conflict in Ode to Kirihito, when there is a growing outbreak of the Monmow Disease. Doctor Kirihito Osanai was sent by his hospital’s director, Dr. Tatsugaura to explore causes at the remote village of Doggoddale. Things would not turn out good for him, and Kirihito begins his quest to return back to the hospital.
Ode to Kirihito is Osamu Tezuka’s two-volume, medical thriller. I happen to think of Tezuka as a realistic and stark writer, and in my opinion, the plot to Ode was quite good. I have yet to read the second volume at this point, but the first volume is sure to appeal new and old readers of the Japanese god of manga’s work. There are some aspects that made my eyebrow rose.
With this book being rated 16, the age rating is appropriated for an experienced reader, but questionable, since there is mention of rape and human slavery. The appropriateness of this book is an individual decision though. This book can still appeal to teen readers who could view Kirihito as a suffering and persevering character.
Another aspect is the lack of translations for the Chinese writing that was in the book. As a non-reader of kanji/Chinese characters, if it is not translated then the reader will just see it as gibberish, and have to look at the other panels for clues. Is that nitpicking? Probably, but knowing what things are being said is better than being left in the dark. Also there is usually no fault I can see with Vertical releases, so nit pick it is. Will the publisher hear the opinions of reviewers, probably.
This is also one of the first times, I have seen a story travel as much as any other manga I have read so far. Travel, meaning geographical locations mentioned. As a geography fan, I usually find it quite interesting to notice this aspect. Usually a manga can take place in one location, or set in a fantasy world, but with the mention of Japan, Taiwan or South Africa. Ode to Kirihito shows a globalizing attitude, that no matter how different the location is, human are humans, and there are similarities, so this is a good lesson to learn.
Originally published in the 1970’s, Ode to Kirihito is timeless. Tezuka is well known for his other titles of Astro Boy, Black Jack, and Buddha. Many of these works are translated in English by Vertical Press, and are critically recommended as graphic novels to be read. My review is slightly late since I am still currently on a trip, and writing this review, so hopefully this makes a late entry for what I have been reading on Twitter as Tezuka’s Month.