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Book 19: Buddha: Kapilavastu (Book 1)

February 10, 2010

This is an 8 part comic book by Osamu Tezuka, the godfather of manga.  It is the history of Buddha and all associated with his rise.  I have read other books concerning Buddha but none are as accessible as this.  It is done entirely in comic and because it is Manga, the characters escape their reality from time to time with bits of humor or social commentary relating to the modern day.  Manga isn’t really known to take itself seriously, as genres go, and so while this is pretty much the story of Buddha, there is an overtly enjoyable tone to the whole thing, despite many instances of death and destruction that are very serious and sad.

These books are a bit expensive and there are 8, but I have to recommend this book to anyone capable of sitting and enjoying a comic.  I know there are some who would never pick up a comic as an adult, but for the rest of you, these are totally worth it.  The story is “allegorical history” that is extremely engaging with words and pictures.  I immediately got behind a few of the characters hoping they would come out of predicaments unscathed just like a superhero comic, except the story is totally unpredictable (if you don’t know it already) and the characters ebb and flow in and out of exaltation and danger.

This specific book covers the slaves, Chapra and his mother, and how they meet a monk and a young boy named Tatta, who can take over the bodies of animals.  Almost everybody they know is killed and Chapra runs off to provide a better life for his mother.  As a separate story-line, Siddhartha is born and his youth in slightly chronicled.  At the end the two stories merge together to continue as one.

I am reading volume 2 right now. I love these books and as soon as I finish the whole thing I will another set of his called Dororo.

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