The Brilliant Framing and Paneling of Tezuka Osamu

So I’ve mentioned before that I’m an unabashed fan of Tezuka Osamu, the legendary “manga no kamisama” (god of manga). I’ve been going through his Hi no tori (Phoenix) for the first time in years, and I was struck by how innovative and expressive his paneling and framing is. Tezuka is credited with bringing cinematic techniques to manga. He used establishing shots, close ups, low angles, high angles, etc., whereas most of his predecessors tended to just draw a scene as if the reader were looking at a stage, static and from one angle. (I want to give due credit for this observation, but I can’t for the life of me figure out where I read it. Probably something by Fred Schodt.) Tezuka pioneered cinematic techniques that still look great today and indeed are still in use by manga artists.

But I want to look at a few examples where Tezuka really exploits paneling and framing, going beyond an imitation of cinema to demonstrate a mastery of his medium. This is not a comprehensive overview, by any means, just some things I noticed while reading Hi no tori.

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Mishima’s Manifesto

MishimaCoupSpeech

(Image source: Wikipedia)

Related to some recent research, I’ve been looking at Mishima Yukio’s manifesto (檄geki), which he famously read from the balcony of a Japan Self Defense Force commander’s office to a crowd of JSDF officers, after taking that commander hostage and just before committing ritual suicide in 1970. I haven’t been able to find a complete English translation of the manifesto (although I found a partial translation in John Nathan’s Mishima: A Biography). Since this manifesto is of some literary and historical interest, I decided to translate it here. Note that this is the text version of the speech sent to journalists, not what he actually read on that balcony: apparently he rushed through it as the JSDF officers below jeered and booed him. Continue reading