This paper examines race relations and postcolonial discourses in Tezuka Osamu’s (1928–1989) medical manga Kirihito sanka (1970–71, Ode to Kirihito, 2006). The development of speculative fiction in Japan owes much to Tezuka’s formative postwar comics about robots in the distant future, such as Metropolis and Astro Boy. While many of these early science fiction manga deal allegorically with racial politics, Kirihito presents a unique case study through which to analyze the legacy of Japan’s wartime imperialism. A central focus of this paper will be on an analysis of the manga’s fictionalized illness that transforms respected Japanese doctor Kirihito Osanai into a humanoid-dog creature. Through this reading, I will argue that Tezuka subverts the wartime notion of an ideal Japanese “race,” and further strengthens this antiwar commentary by having his dog doctor both fall victim to the brutality of and later be liberated by Japan’s former colonial subjects.
3:00-5:00 on March 3rd
Ben Whaley, University of Calgary