Tezuka, Osamu (1928–1989) By Ting, Grace
Tezuka Osamu was a manga (comic) artist, animator, and film director often called the “God of Manga” for his enormous lasting impact upon the manga and animation industry of post-World War II Japan. First attracting attention in 1947 with his manga Shin takarajima (New Treasure Island), he was extraordinarily prolific until his death in 1989. He is best known for his series Tetsuwan Atomu (Iron-Armed Atom, 1952–1968), which suggested utopian desires while also posing darker questions concerning possibilities for peace and diversity in postwar Japan. In 1961, he established the animation studio Mushi Production and adapted the series as the first Japanese animated television series, aired from 1963 to 1966. Ultimately, he produced several hundred manga titles, many of which he adapted as animated films and television series while also producing original animations. A master of innovation, he forged the path for new possibilities for manga and animation, particularly with his groundbreaking contributions in applying cinematic techniques to his works. Tezuka’s work suggests the close-knit ties between film, manga, and TV animation in Japan. In particular, scholar Marc Steinberg has discussed the significant role of Tetsuwan Atomu in establishing precedents for the postwar anime media mix in Japan, especially with its style of limited animation made for television and Tezuka’s business model incorporating transmedia character merchandising.