Title – Ode to Kirihito
Story & Art by – Osamu Tezuka
Publisher – Vertical, Inc.
Age Rating – 16 +
MSRP – US $14.95, CND $18.95, UK £10.99
Availability – Barnes & Noble, Borders, RightStuf, Books-A-Million, Amazon, Amazon CA, Chapters (CA), Amazon UK, & Blackwell’s (UK)
When a patient arrives at M University with a mysterious disease it leaves the staff baffled. What is known about this sickness, dubbed Monmow Disease, is that it transforms a person into a dog-like beast. When Kirihito Osanai is tasked with gathering more information on Monmow Disease he’ll discover some stones are best left unturned.
Ode to Kirihito is a lot of things; mystery, medical drama, with a bit of horror thrown in and that’s what makes it great. Another thing that makes it so good is the large cast of characters. Sure the main story may be about Kirihito but it’s always fun to see what trouble the other characters are getting into or causing. The only thing that really makes Ode to Kirihito show it’s age (it was published between 1966 and 1967) is its views towards women. This is only in the beginning though, by the middle of volume 1 several strong female characters emerge. All in all Ode to Kirihito is an excellent read.
As far as the art goes in OtK it’s pretty cartoony but this is Osamu Tezuka we’re talking about so that’s no surprise. What really amazes me though is the wide range of expressions each character has in this art style. You can tell when a character is angry, happy, contemplative, or just downright fucking insane. Even those affected with Monmow Disease still show a wide range of emotions and they have the faces of dogs. Another thing I love about the art is the backgrounds. You always know where you are and what’s happening, you’re never left contemplating where the characters are suppose to be. It also doesn’t hurt that some of the backgrounds are beautiful and others pretty trippy.
Without spoiling anything to much I’d also like to talk about some of the characters. As I mentioned earlier there’s quite a few of them but not so many that you lose track of them all. While Kirihito is a good main character my favorite has to be his friend Doctor Urabe. The thing that makes Urabe so fascinating to me is that by many people’s standards he could be considered a horrible human being. That Mr. Tezuka could make a character that you can see both the good and bad in shows just how wonderful of a storyteller he was. Another character I absolutely loved was Sister Helen who proves she has just as many balls as any man.
Ode to Kirihito has a 16 + rating which I think was smart of Vertical. I had originally thought 13 would have been good but when I considered it I realized some of the material in OtK was pretty mature. There are at least 4 accounts of rape, several attempts of rape, exposed breasts, and a few accounts of full on nudity. There’s several violent scenes and a few instances of torture. And while this may not be technically mature material most of the medical jargon went over my head so it probably would a lot of 13 year olds.
Vertical released OtK in two volumes. Volume 1 contains 478 pages where as volume 2 has 350, neither of the volumes have any extras. Both are larger than a regular volume of manga in both height and width. This means if you plan to stack them on top of your other manga they’ll stick out a bit. Best to place them with your other oversized editions or at the very bottom of your shelf so your other volumes sit on top.
If you’re looking for an all around good manga you can’t go wrong with Ode to Kirihito. While some may not consider it the best of Mr. Tezuka’s works I rate it pretty highly. Just remember that it was originally made between 1966 and 1967 so some of its ideas and treatment of characters may be outdated. If you can look past that very minor flaw you’re in for a hell of a ride.