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  • Speciesism, Part II:Tezuka Osamu and the Multispecies Ideal
  • Thomas Lamarre (bio)

Although the rhetoric of sengo or "postwar Japan" encourages the articulation of a resolute break between prewar and postwar Japan, postwar manga and animation do not abandon the speciesism seen in wartime manga and manga films. On the contrary, speciesism, that is, the translation of race relations into species relations, becomes more prevalent in the postwar era. Postwar manga and animation refine, intensify, and redouble the wartime aspiration of "overcoming racism" by summoning and implementing (often in the context of war) a multispecies ideal, which often takes the form of a peaceable kingdom in which different populations (species) coexist productively and prosperously. The continuity with wartime speciesism is particularly evident in the works of Tezuka Osamu, who is usually acknowledged as the pivotal figure in establishing new conventions for manga and television animation in postwar Japan. While this essay begins by exploring the continuity between wartime speciesism and Tezuka's interest in the ideal of a peaceable animal kingdom, it becomes clear that Tezuka remained wary of the multispecies ideal articulated in wartime manga and manga films. Here, however, the goal is not merely to point out sites of continuity or discontinuity between prewar and postwar Japan. Rather than using continuity or discontinuity to define [End Page 51] eras or objects, the aim is to proceed genealogically, to delineate the contours of a power formation associated with, and maybe impossible without, manga and animation.

Tezuka, the Postwar

Histories of manga usually place a great deal of emphasis on the works of Tezuka Osamu in the formation of manga as we know it today. Commentators commonly draw attention to the introduction of cinematic forms of continuity in Tezuka's manga, which helped to consolidate a stable set of conventions for conveying and sustaining action, perception, and emotion across panels. In this respect, within manga history, the works of Tezuka have come to play a role analogous to theories of the formation of a classical style in cinema in the 1920s. If we add to this the idea of manga as "comics that are easy to draw," we might think of Tezuka's manga in terms of the establishment of an easily imitable system of expression for producing imaged-based narratives.1 Or, if you prefer to think of the continuity of action, emotion, and perception in manga less in terms of narrative and more in terms of interaction with characters, we might see his manga in terms of a stable and imitable set of conventions for making image-based character arcs or reader–character interfaces. In either case, Tezuka is commonly styled as the god or the father of manga on the basis of his formation of a stable, imitable system of manga expression.

Similarly, histories of anime that focus specifically on anime as a distinctive set of limited animation techniques developed largely in the realm of television production (terebi anime) see Tezuka Osamu as the originator of anime, starting with his establishment of Mushi Pro to bring the manga Tetsu wan Atomu to the small screen. Here a contrast with full animation, that is, animation that strives for a higher degree of fluidity and mobility in character animation that is associated with cinema and the big screen, becomes important. Commentators stress how Tezuka's work created a new set of conventions for animation, at once stable and readily imitable, which spawned a lineage (or lineages) of anime, distinctive from big-screen animations such as the feature-length films of Disney Studios, the dōga (literally "moving pictures") of Tōei Studios, and the manga eiga (manga films) of Ghibli Studios.

It is interesting that in manga histories Tezuka is often credited with introducing cinematic modes in order to stabilize manga expression, while in anime histories, he is typically credited with developing an anime system [End Page 52] of expression distinctive from cinema or cinematic animation. Yet we don't need to set these two paths of Tezuka in opposition. It is clear that Tezuka's works mark both a continuation of and a break with cinema—in other words, a transformation in cinema (understood as a stable set...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2152-6648
Print ISSN
1934-2489
Pages
pp. 51-85
Launched on MUSE
2010-11-10
Open Access
No
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