APOLLO’S SONG (Apollo no Uta, “Apollo’s Song”) ??????) • Osamu Tezuka • Vertical (2007) • Shônen Gahosha (Weekly Shônen King, 1970) • Shonen Science Fiction Fantasy Romance • 16+ (graphic violence, nudity, sexual situations)
Apollo’s Song opens with one of the most outlandish and unforgettable sequences in all manga: hundreds of naked men race down a tunnel toward a naked woman with a crown and scepter, at which point it becomes clear that the men are sperm and the woman an ovum. One man embraces the woman and merges with her, forming new life. From there, Tezuka launches into a weird, choppy exploration of his ideas about romantic love. As punishment from the goddess Aphrodite, juvenile delinquent Chikaishi Shogo is condemned to love and lose the same woman in one reincarnation after another, from the past to the distant future. Or is he just experiencing hallucinations brought on by shock therapy? It may sound like the material of a sappy love story, but in Tezuka’s hands it’s anything but: Apollo’s Song is certainly melodramatic, but it’s far from romantic, as Tezuka fills his pages with violent men, icy women, pop psychology that was dated even in 1970, and action-packed plotlines that have nothing to do with the nominal central theme of love. The structure is similar to Phoenix, but on a smaller scale, with Shogo zipping back and forth through time but always running up against the same fate. It’s not one of Tezuka’s better adult-oriented works, mainly because he seems to have so little interest in his chosen theme, but even lesser Tezuka is rife with eye-popping moments. (Review by Shaenon Garrity)
Today’s review is by Shaenon Garrity, creator of numerous comics, manga editor, comics critic, and one of my best friends. For “Manga: The Complete Guide” and 365 Days of Manga, I asked Shaenon to review all the manga by Osamu Tezuka. I love Tezuka, but to be honest, so much has been written about him that I have never had a strong desire to write about him myself. There are other, lesser known manga creators who need the attention. Writing about Tezuka reminds me of that scene in the 1983 movie “A Christmas Story” when the kid is fantasizing about his teacher giving him his grades “A plus… plus… plus… plus… plus!” Actually, not all Tezuka manga deserves an A+ (Apollo’s Song for one), but still, although I can’t put down a Tezuka manga once I pick it up, I gave the Tezuka honors to Shaenon so I could spend more time reviewing yaoi manga, shojo manga and stories about spiky-haired young boys who want to be the best at something.
Today’s winner is Nathan G. of Indiana! Congratulations, Nathan! Soon you’ll be getting five free manga, just like this other dude, Brandon W.:
Thanks for sending us your photo, Brandon! You’ve allowed us to continue the “circle of manga” by sending you five more graphic novels. See you all tomorrow!