Osamu Tezuka – Apollo’s Song

I finished Tezuka’s Apollo’s Song today morning, while waiting for a missing-in-action mechanic. Brilliant work, and a pretty fast read. Considering that it was a two-hour wait, and the book was the only one I had around, I read it twice.

The prologue of the book, like I had mentioned before, is a trippy look at human reproduction.

Scans of the prologue, to encourage you into buying the book.


On the Pile

Blossom has copies of both Apollo’s Song and Ode to Kirihito, two Osamu Tezuka classics being reprinted by Vertical books, with snazzy cover designs by Chip Kidd and a very very readable English translation. I had bought Kirihito when I was in the US, and was just about to order Apollo’s Song, when a friend called up to inform me about its availability in Bangalore. He also went to the trouble of buying it for me and sending it through someone who was travelling to Hyderabad, and as a result – new Tezuka book for me to read. Yes! 541 pages of Tezuka goodness! Though I honestly hope that people aren’t buying this book for their kids – its dipped in mature themes, I see loads of cartoon nudity as I flip through the book, and the opening sequence is bizarre look at human reproduction.

The next Tezuka offering by Vertical is another 600+ tome called MW, available for pre-order on Amazon. It’s due for release in the US in November. Am I getting it? You betcha!

The other item on the pile is an Indo-Russian production which I bought because (a) I remember being totally floored by the movie when I saw it as a kid and (b) It was available for half-price at a Planet M sale. Bless you, Indian DVD companies, for understanding the necessity of price cuts in your offerings. I bought and watched Raghu Romeo on the same day and would have also bought Benegal’s Junoon, but I got into an argument with the salesman. The MRP had been slashed from 350 Rs to 199 Rs, and then there was a 50% discount. The salesman had put the discount on the original price, not the revised MRP, and no amount of cajoling would make him budge. The hell with it, I will just buy Junoon some other time.

About Ali Baba Aur Chalis Chor – I remember very vividly the innovative design of the “Open sesame” cave, which showed a waterfall flowing in reverse and the cave opening in the cliff. When I watched the opening sequence again today morning, it was surprising how well the scene still holds up today in terms of SFX. Does not look cheesy. The other thing I noticed was the proliferation of Russian actors – and except for the well-known Indian artistes, everybody else seems to speaking in Russian, with the Hindi lines dubbed on. So it was a bilingual production! Most of the production crew was also two-fold, one Indian cameraman and a Russian one, two directors, two production designers – I am keeping an eye out for the other Indo-Russian fantasy film I know of – Ajooba, which I remember was a turkey the first time I saw it, but I don’t mind seeing it again. The scene where Sonam ( playing an Arabian princess ) puts a miniaturized Rishi Kapoor in her blouse deserves an award in itself. Did I just type that? Yes, I just typed that.

Amazing. The complete movie is online on youtube.


A Father Knows His Child’s Heart, as Only a Child Can Know His Father’s

I just finished reading 28 volumes of Lone Wolf and Cub. Rereading, rather – I had completed reading the scanned versions sometime last year (well, alright, also the 45 issues that First Comics had reprinted in the eighties, and which I had bought earlier. ). But that was not sustained reading, I was reading the early volumes at the rate at which the kind brainz was downloading them off Emule ( One volume every four days, downloaded to his server, from where I would have to download it to my computer at home, on a painfully erratic 64 kbps connection) And then I discovered bit-torrent, and found the first 23 volumes in a single gigatorrent. Got them, read them all, and stalked zcultfm patiently until volumes 24-28 were uploaded by some samaritan.

I bought the complete lot off eBay last December, from a guy in London at a ridiculously low buy-it-now price, and he waived shipping charges for the lot if I could arrange a personal pickup. My sister came to the rescue, but the books were stuck with her until last week. Oh, the agony. The irony being that bookstores in India began stocking Lone Wolf and Cub volumes since February. Yes, I could have bought them all here, but they would have cost me a lot more, and not all of them were…ahem….first prints.

I finished the first 13 volumes in a single sitting at Delhi airport, taking occasional tomato soup-and-coffee breaks to soothe the hyper-charged mind. Could not really continue with the rest when I got back to Hyderabad, but managed to get to volume 20 by yesterday. Could not control myself any longer, and finished the last 8 volumes today. And now there is this melancholy feeling that refuses to go away – you understand the feeling, right, the thought of “darn, why did it have to end?” and “What do I do next?” and the general hangover of the journey itself, nearly 9000 pages with Ogami Itto and Daigoro on the road to Meifumado.

I could rave about the series and Koike and Kojima’s storytelling prowess, but I am just. Too. Blown. Away right now.

Which reminds me, I also finished eight out of ten volumes of Samurai Executioner, also by the same creators – ironically, the fate of Yamada Asaemon, the titular character of Samurai Executioner is revealed in one of the early volumes of Lone Wolf and Cub. If you find volumes eight and nine of the series, do let me know. Those are the ones I do not have right now – Blossom bookstore in Bangalore stocks Samurai Executioner only until volume 7, while the shop I went to in Delhi had volume 10, but no volume 8 and 9. Darn.

What am I going to read next? Easy. Osamu Tezuka’s Buddha, four volumes of which I bought in Delhi, and which I have been dying to read ever since Andrew Arnold raved about them on Time.com. This will be my first Tezuka, and from what I have seen so far, is going to be quite a different read from both Lone Wolf and Samurai Executioner. Now if only I find the next four volumes without much of a fuss….

Quick trivia: Goseki Kojima and Osamu Tezuka were born on the same day – November 3, 1928. What Enishi!