Tezuka's Metropolis: A Modern Japanese Fable About Art and the Cosmos
In Uta Klein, Ktaja Mellmann, Steffanie Metzger, eds. Heurisiken der Literaturwissenschaft: Disciplinexterne Perspektiven auf Literatur. mentis Verlag GmbH, 2006, pp. 527-545.
15 Pages Posted: 18 Aug 2014
Date Written: 2006
Osamu Tezuka’s Metropolis is ultimately a narrative about the nature of art told in a concrete visual and verbal logic accessible to a child. The story unfolds across multiple domains – Greater Metropolis, Underground, Child’s World – and has the form of a ring where the first element matches the last, the second matches the next to last, and so forth: 1 2 3 4 5 4’ 3’ 2’ 1’. By juxtaposing multiple plot lines, Tezuka deploys an essentialist mechanics of inner-workings and external appearances of people and animals to illustrate practical, moral, and aesthetic issues. By depicting a world that is rapidly destroying itself, Tezuka indicates the order that must be conserved if the world is to persist. Two of Tezuka’s devices have been developed in later manga by himself and others: 1) an artificial being is search of its place in human society, 2) a being that can be either male or female.
Keywords: narrative, manga, ring composition, Japan, Tezuka, graphic novel narratology, symmetry
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