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Ontology on the gone!

The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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01/03/2005 Archived Entry: "Manga review: Phoenix, vol 2"

Phoenix Vol. 2 Future
by Osamu Tezuka
Published by VIZ

Review by Tom Good

My last review was of an issue of Vagabond where most of the action took place during a single swordfight. In complete contrast to that, Phoenix Future spans many billions of years. Species and civilizations rise and fall over the course of the story, but throughout it all a mystical bird called the Phoenix appears as a guide for other beings.

The story begins, naturally, in a future world. Humanity lives underground and a few giant computers govern society. Class II Space Patrolman Yamanobe Masato finds himself in trouble because he is in love with a "Moopie" named Tamami. Moopies are alien creatures who can assume different shapes, and this one has the form of a lovely human girl. But Moopies are considered dangerous because they can stimulate human minds and cause them to enter a dreamlike state full of pleasant illusions. The government has banned moopies and ordered all of them killed, so before long, Masato and Tamami are on the run.

After that, the plot twists and turns in a wild ride that I will not spoil here. The story seems to invite all sorts of philosophical questions. Does intelligent life naturally tend towards self-destruction? Are video games and movies kind of like Moopies, and are they dangerous? Does progress lead inevitably to decadence and stagnation?

Future, first published in Japan in 1967-68, is the second volume of a series of twelve Phoenix stories by Osamu Tezuka, an artist regarded as the "Father of Manga" and perhaps best known for the Astro Boy series. This is the first time Future has been published in English translation. Tezuka's art is wonderful here, and now has a bit of a retro-futuristic feel. Masato's costume and blaster gun remind me of something from Buck Rogers, for example. For manga fans, this is a chance to see some of the work that influenced today's scene. Phoenix Future is one of the best manga of 2004. Highly recommended.

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