(Last Updated: January 6, 2021)
It is always hard to come up with adequate words for the role that Osamu Tezuka played in the development of Japanese comics and Japanese animation. The epithets are plenty – “one of the most respected cultural figures of 20th century Japan”, “godfather” of anime/manga, “God of manga”, even “God of comics” – and there is a reason for them.
But, at the same time, when considering Tezuka, it is also crucially important to avoid exaggeration and hyperbole, to evaluate the man and his work critically, to consider it in a proper context. Yes, Tezuka largely defined “manga” and “anime” as we know them, and his influence on anime and manga is felt to the present day. But, for example, no, Osamu Tezuka did not “invent” Japanese comics or Japanese animation. How “manga” and “anime” would have developed without him and what form Japanese comics and Japanese animation would have taken in his absence is a valid question, but there is no reason to assume that these forms of popular visual culture would not have existed at all without Osamu Tezuka.
Regardless, it is also no surprise that Tezuka – the artist, the writer, the creator – has been the subject of significant scholarly attention. For example, he is one of only four anime/manga creators with a full-length English-language study of their work – the others being Hayao Miyazaki, Mamoru Oshii, and Satoshi Kon, and the only manga artist with entries in the Gale Major 21st-Century Authors database and the Greenwood Press Encyclopedia of Comic Books and Graphic Novels. However, academic writing on Tezuka has been scattered around many different sources, without anything like an up-to-date research guide or even a simple listing of such publications.
This bibliography serves to address this information gap/information need, and present a hopefully comprehensive listing of English-language scholarly writing on Tezuka and his work that allows scholars at all levels to familiarize themselves with it. As is with any kind of organized list of publications, it can be used to identify authors, such as Mark MacWilliams, Natsu Onoda Power, Ada Palmer, and Roman Rosenbaum who have been particularly active in exploring Tezuka and his works. It serves to demonstrate that, as with other scholarly writing on anime/manga, academic approaches to Tezuka and his works can take many different shapes, and appear in many different types of publications – while also providing support for the statement that a collection of academic essays on anime/manga simply cannot ignore Tezuka and his contributions.
This bibliography covers English-language books, chapters in edited essay collections, and articles in peer-reviewed academic journals that discuss Osamu Tezuka or one of the comics or animated films/series that he was involved with over the course of his career. It specifically does not include broader books/essays (some examples include Manga! Manga!: The World of Japanese Comics, Dreamland Japan: Writings on Modern Manga, Manga: 60 Years of Japanese Comics and A history of manga in the context of Japanese culture and society) that necessarily discuss Tezuka along other themes, topics, and individuals, or papers such as The frenzy of the visible in comic book worlds that mention Tezuka’s works in passing. The earliest work on this list was published in 1997, and it will be updated continuously to reflect new publications. As with the other bibliographies that are compiled on this site, it is also limited to academic publications, and specifically does not cover articles in newspapers or general-interest/trade/enthusiast magazines, blog posts, or personal essays.
As last updated (March 2016), the bibliography contains a total of 57 entries, including 4 books, a exhibit catalog containing both original essays and translations of several seminal Japanese publications, a special “Tezuka’s Manga Life” special issue of Mechademia: An Annual Forum for Anime, Manga, and the Fan Arts (with 18 original essays, translations, and manga), 23 chapters in edited essay collections, and 28 individual articles published in various academic journals.
Actually compiling this bibliography involved several steps. The standard Library of Congress subject heading for commentary on Tezuka is “Tezuka, Osamu, — 1928-1989 — Criticism and interpretation“; however, it is important to remember that using this search in a library catalog or the multi-library WorldCat.org service mainly returns full-length books, rather than book chapters/articles.
Book chapters and journal articles were retrieved via searches in major academic databases (including the Bibliography of Asian Studies Online, EBSCO Academic Search Premier, Film & Television Literature Index, Gale Academic One File, the International Index to the Performing Arts, the MLA International Bibliography and the ProQuest Research Library) for records containing Tezuka’s name in the title, abstract, or list of keywords, as well as follow-up searches in Google Scholar, Microsoft Academic Search, and the Directory of Open Access Journals.
Additional items were identified through direct review of tables of contents of several essay collections on anime/manga and examinations of the notes/works cited sections of as many items that had already been selected for inclusion as possible.
As this is a purely enumerative bibliography, the entries are presented with minimal annotation. If an abstract is available, I will attempt to reproduce it. I also plan on reviewing all publications included in this bibliography with titles that do not make it clear specifically which ones of Tezuka’s works they actually discuss, and providing those annotations.
At this point, the bibliography is organized by year of publication, and separately, by publication type (books, book chapters, journal articles).
English-language scholarly works on Tezuka published before 2010 are listed in the Bibliography section of the excellent and comprehensive Tezuka in English website. I contributed a significant number of the listings, but overall, that list is significantly broader in scope, since it includes publications in languages other than English, as well as those that mention Tezuka’s works or even discuss them to some extent, but are not focused on them entirely.
By year of publication ||| By publication type
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Roberts, Lee M. Film-noir features in German and Japanese comics: Isabel Kreitz’s Die Sache mit Sorge (2008) and Osamu Tezuka’s Adolf (1983-1985).
In Joanne Miyong Cho (ed.). German-East Asian encounters and entanglements: Affinity in culture and politics since 1945 (pp. 176-199). New York: Routledge.
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Whaley, Ben. What Tezuka would tell Trump: Critiquing Japanese cultural nationalism in Gringo.
In Roman Rosenbaum (ed.). The representation of Japanese politics in manga: The visual literacy of statecraft (pp. 162-182). Abingdon, UK: Routledge.
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Peer, Ayelet, & Greenberg, Raz. The Japanese Trojan War: Tezuka Osamu’s envisioning of the Trojan cycle. Greece & Rome, 67(2), 151-167.
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Schillings, Sonja. Pollution as a paradigm: Property, dignity, and absorption in Poth and Tezuka. Law, Technology and Humans, 2(2), 120-132.
Atkinson, Rosalind. A Japanese Blake: Embodied visions in William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790) and Tezuka Osamu’s Phoenix (1967-88).
In Alex Watson & Laurence Williams (eds.). British Romanticism in Asia: The reception, translation, and transformation of Romantic literature in India and East Asia (pp. 314-360). Singapore: Palgrave Macmillan.
Clarke, M.J. Fluidity of figure and space in Osamu Tezuka’s Ode to Kirihito. Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, 9(1), 23-49.
Dosen, Asa. Probing the manga ToPoEt(h)ics in Tezuka’s Message to Adolf. Orientaliska Studier, 156, 38-45.
Tranter, Kieran. Doing right in the world with 100,000 horsepower: Osamu Tezuka’s Tetsuwan Atomu (Astro Boy), essense, posthumanity and techno-humanism.
In Ashley Pearson, Thomas Giddens, & Kieran Tranter (Eds.). Law and justice in Japanese popular culture: From crime fighting robots to duelling Pocket Monsters (pp. 95-111). Abingdon, UK. Routledge.
Delgado-Algarra, Emilio-Jose. Comics as an educational resource in the teaching of social science: Socio-historical commitment and values in Tezuka’s manga. Cultura y Educación: Culture and Education, 29(4), 848-862.
Nobis, James. Lolicon: Adolescent fetishization in Osamu Tezuka’s Ayako.
In Mark Heidermann & Brittany Tullis (Eds.). Picturing childhood: Youth in transnational comics (pp. 148-162). Austin: University of Texas Press.
Thornton-Gibson, Katherine. Ukiyo-e, World War II, and Walt Disney: The influences on Tezuka Osamu’s development of the modern world of anime and manga. The Phoenix Papers: A Journal of Fandom and Neomedia Studies, 3(1), 344-356.
Gaens, Bart. Tezuka Osamu’s MW: Challenging politics and society through manga. Ennen Ja Nyt, 4/2016.
Parry, Maydia. ‘Astro Boy’ and the ethics of technology. Screen Education, 78, 20-23.
Rosenbaum, Roman. Tesuka Osamu’s postcolonial discourse towards a hybrid national identity.
In Binita Mehta & Pia Mukherji (Eds.). Postcolonial comics: Texts, events, identities (pp. 59-73). New York: Routledge.
Whaley, Ben. Three cases of fatal mixing in the war comics of Tezuka Osamu. International Journal of Comic Art, 16(1), 244-257.
Mechademia: An Annual Forum for Anime, Manga, and the Fan Arts
Volume 8 – Tezuka’s Manga Life
Each annual volume of Mechademia is centered around a common theme. The 2013 volume contains 18 original essays on Tezuka’s life, comics, anime, and other projects, a translation of two chapters originally published in 1992 in a Japanese book on Tezuka, an original short manga that Tezuka created, and two other manga that use him as an inspiration.
Chow, Kenny K.N. From haiku and handscroll to Tezuka: Refocusing space and camera in the narrative of animation.
In Masao Yokota and Tzu-yue G. Hu (Eds.). Japanese animation: East Asian perspectives (pp. 183-195). Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi.
Hutchinson, Rachael. Sabotaging the rising sun: Representing history in Tezuka Osamu’s Phoenix.
In Roman Rosenbaum (Ed.). Manga and the representation of Japanese history (pp. 18-39). Abingdon, UK: Routledge.
Kim, Joon Yang. The East Asian post-human prometheus: Animating mechanical ‘others’.
In Suzanne Buchan (Ed.). Pervasive animation (pp. 172-194). New York: Routledge.
Kon, Dong-Yeon. Growing up with Astro Boy and Mazinger Z: Industrialization, “high-tech world”, and Japanese animation in the art and culture of South Korea.
In Masao Yokota and Tzu-yue G. Hu (Eds.). Japanese animation: East Asian Perspectives (pp. 155-182). Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi.
Rosenbaum, Roman. Reading Showa history through manga: Astro Boy as the avatar of postwar Japanese culture.
In Roman Rosenbaum (Ed.). Manga and the representation of Japanese History (pp. 40-59). Abingdon, UK: Routledge.
Yamanashi, Makiko. Tezuka and takarazuka. Intertwined roots of Japanese popular culture.
In Masao Yokota and Tzu-yue G. Hu (Eds.). Japanese animation: East Asian Perspectives (pp. 135-154). Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi.
Bird, Lawrence. Dialectical imaginaries: Forms of life, forms of fascism in the Metropolis of film, manga and anime. Critical Planning: UCLA Urban Planning Journal, 19, 38-55.
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Gibson, Alicia. Atomic pop! Astro Boy, the dialectic of enlightenment, and machinic modes of being. Cultural Critique, 80, 183-204.
Vollmar, Rob. Dark side of the manga: Tezuka Osamu’s dark period. World Literature Today, 86(2), 14-19.
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Benzon, William. Dr. Tezuka’s ontology laboratory and the discovery of Japan.
In Timothy Perper and Martha Cornog (Eds.). Mangatopia: Essays on manga and anime in the modern world (pp. 37-52). Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.
Ito, Go. Tezuka is dead: Manga in transformation and its dysfunctional discourse. Mechademia: An Annual Forum for Anime, Manga and the Fan Arts, 6, 69-82.
[Translated and excerpted from Tezuka izu deddo: Hirakareta manga no hyogenron e (Tezuka is dead: Post-modernist and modernist approaches to Japanese manga). Tokyo, NTT Shuppan, 2005].
Ito, Kinko. Osamu Tezuka: His life, works, and contributions to the history of modern Japanese comics. International Journal of Comic Art, 13(2), 679-699.
Lopez Rodriguez, Francisco Javier. Recreating the fantasy world of Dororo: Transcoding manga into cinema. Ol3Media: e-journal of Cinema, Television and Media Studies, 10.
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Palmer, Ada. All life is genocide: The philosophical pessimism of Osamu Tezuka.
In Timothy Perper and Martha Cornog (Eds.). Mangatopia: Essays on manga and anime in the modern world (pp. 173-190). Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.
Sunder, Madhavi. Bollywood/Hollywood. Theoretical Inquiries in Law, 12(1), 275-308.
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Theisen, Nicholas. Declassicizing the classical in Japanese comics: Osamu Tezuka’s Apollo’s Song.
In George Kovacs and C. W. Marshall (Eds.). Classics and comics (pp. 59-72). New York: Oxford University Press.
Uehara, Kuniko. The robot fantasy – The case of Osamu Tezuka. Fastitocalon: Studies in Fantasticism Ancient to Modern, 2(1 & 2), 113-132.
Brophy, Philip. Osamu Tezuka’s gekiga: Behind the mask of manga.
In Toni Johnson-Woods (Ed.). Manga: An anthology of global and cultural perspectives (pp. 128-136). New York: Continuum.
Gibson, Alicia. Astro Boy and the Atomic Age.
In Josef Steiff and Tristan D. Tamplin (Eds.). Anime and philosophy: Wide eyed wonder (pp. 181-191). Chicago: Open Court.
Lamarre, Thomas. Speciecism, part II: Tezuka Osamu and the multispecies ideal. Mechademia: An Annual Forum for Anime, Manga, and the Fan Arts, 5, 51-85.
Palmer, Ada. You, God of Manga, are cruel.
In Josef Steiff and Adam Barkman (Eds.). Manga and philosophy: Fullmetal metaphysician (pp. 17-36). Chicago: Open Court.
Rosenbaum, Roman. Tezuka Osamu: Adolf – Towards a historio-graphic novel. International Journal of Comic Art, 415-434.
Schaub, Joseph. Mecha-topia: Imagining a posthuman paradise in Osamu Tezuka’s Metropolis. Interdisciplinary Humanities, 27(2), 94-110.
Sheridan, Bruce. Imagination rising.
In Josef Steiff and Adam Barkman (Eds.). Manga and philosophy: Fullmetal metaphysician (pp. 37-49). Chicago: Open Court.
Tamplin, Tristan D. You need a system to play Black Jack.
In Josef Steiff and Adam Barkman (Eds.). Manga and philosophy: Fullmetal metaphysician (pp. 3-15). Chicago: Open Court.
Tanaka, Yuki. War and peace in the art of Tezuka Osamu: The humanism of his epic manga. The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus.
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Buljan, Katherine. The uncanny and the robot in the Astro Boy episode “Franken”. Animation Studies, Special Issue: Animated Dialogues, 2007, 46-54.
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Ishii, Anne. Medical manga comes to America. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 180(5), 542-543.
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Ladd, Fred, with Harvey Deneroff. Astro Boy and anime come to America: An insider’s view of the birth of a pop culture phenomenon. Jefferson, NC: McFarland.
Ma, Sheng-Mei. Three views of the Rising Sun, obliquely: Kenji Nakazawa’s A-bomb, Osamu Tezuka’s Adolf, and Yoshinori Kobayashi’s apologia. Mechademia: An Annual Forum for Anime, Manga, and Fan Arts, 4, 183-196.
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McCarthy, Helen. The art of Osamu Tezuka: God of Manga. New York: Abrams ComicArts.
Onoda Power, Natsu. God of comics: Osamu Tezuka and the creation of post-World War II manga. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi.
Steinberg, Marc. Anytime, anywhere: Tetsuwan Atomu stickers and the emergence of character merchandizing. Theory, Culture & Society, 26(2-3), 113-138.
“Japan’s first weekly, 30-minute animated TV series, Tetsuwan Atomu (Astro Boy), is not only commonly regarded as the first instance of what is now known as `anime’; it is also regarded as the point of emergence of the commercial phenomenon of character-based merchandizing. Interesting enough, it is not so much Tetsuwan Atomu the TV series as the practice of including Atomu stickers as premiums in the candy maker Meiji Seika’s chocolate packages that really ignited the character merchandizing boom. The key to the success of the stickers — along with the use of the already popular figure of Atomu — was their ability to be stuck anywhere, and seen anytime. This anytime-anywhere potential of the stickers arguably led to the new communicational media environment and the cross-media connections that characterize the anime system and the force which drives it: the character. Part historical, part theoretical, this article will explore the thesis that it was the `medium’ of stickers that led to the development of the character-based multimedia environment that is a key example of — and perhaps even a precursor to — the ubiquity of media that is the theme of this journal issue.”
Bird, Lawrence. States of emergency: Urban space and the robotic body in the “Metropolis” tales. Mechademia: An Annual Forum for Anime, Manga, and Fan Arts, 3, 127-148.
Makela, Lee. From Metropolis to Metoroporisu: The changing role of the robot in Japanese and Western cinema.
In MacWilliams, Mark (Ed.). Japanese visual culture: Explorations in the world of manga and anime (pp. 91-113). Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe.
Otsuka, Eiji. Disarming Atom: Tezuka Osamu’s manga at war and peace. Mechademia: An Annual Forum for Anime, Manga, and Fan Arts, 3, 111-125.
[Translated by Thomas Lamarre. Originally published as Nichibei kõwa to ‘Tetsuwan Atomu: Tezuka Osamu wa naze ‘Atomu o busõ kaijo shita ka (The U.S. -Japan Peace Treaty and Tetsuwan Atomu: Why did Tezuka Osamu disarm ‘Atom’?), Kan, 22, 178-189 (2005)]
Phillips, Susanne. Characters, themes and narrative patterns in the manga of Osamu Tezuka.
In MacWilliams, Mark (Ed.). Japanese visual culture: Explorations in the world of manga and anime (pp. 68-80). Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe.
Ruh, Brian. Early Japanese animation in the United States: Changing Tetsuwan Atomu to Astro Boy.
In Mark I. West (Ed.). The Japanification of children’s popular culture: From Godzilla to Miyazaki (pp. 209-226). Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press.
Yomota, Inuhiko. Stigmata in Osamu Tezuka’s works. Mechademia: An Annual Forum for Anime, Manga, and Fan Arts, 3, 97-109.
[translated and introduced by Hajime Nakatani]
Patten, Fred. Simba versus Kimba: The pride of lions.
In Alan Cholodenko (Ed.). The illusion of life II: More essays on animation (pp. 275-313). Sydney, Australia: Power Publications.
Schodt, Frederik. The Astro Boy essays: Osamu Tezuka, Mighty Atom, and the manga/anime revolution. Berkeley, CA: Stone Bridge Press.
Benzon, William L. The song at the end of the world: Personal apocalypse in Rintaro’s Metropolis. Mechademia: An Annual Forum for Anime, Manga, and Fan Arts, 1, 171-173.
Brophy, Philip. Australia: The Osamu Tezuka exhibition: Ten years in the making. Wochi Kochi Magazine, 13, 32-36.
Brophy, Philip (Ed.). Tezuka: The marvel of manga. Victoria, Australia: National Gallery of Victoria.
Gan, Sheuo Hui. Prefiguring the future: Tezuka Osamu’s adult animation and its influence on later animation in Japan.
In Joel David (Ed.). Proceedings of the Whither the Orient: Asians in Asia and non-Asian Cinema conference (pp. 178-191). Seoul: Asia Future Initiative.
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Gildenhard, Bettina. History as faction: Historiography within Japanese comics as seen through Tezuka Osamu’s manga Adolf.
In Jaqueline Berndt & Steffi Richter (Eds.). Reading manga: Local and global perceptions of Japanese comics (pp. 95-106). Leipzig, Germany: Leipziger Universitatsverlag.
Steinberg, Marc. Immobile sections trans-series movement: Astroboy and the emergence of anime. Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 1(2), 190-206.
“This article contrasts the different economies of motion found in cinema and animation, and explores the particular economy of movement and libidinal investment that accompanies Japanese anime, paying close attention to the first anime TV series, Astroboy (Tetsuwan Atomu). Metz and Lyotard argue that cinema generates an impression of reality through its particular economy of motion. Cel animation, in contrast, relies on a different economy of motion. This is especially the case in the specific kind of limited animation found in Japanese anime. This article focuses on the specificities of this kind of animated movement (particularly its emphasis on stillness), and the way Astroboy relied on commodity serialization to generate a particularly immersive image environment – one that set the stage for what is now known as ‘anime’.”
Riley, Yoko. Faust through the eyes of a Japanese cartoonist.
In Osman Durrani (Ed.). Icons of modern culture: Faust (pp. 409-416). Westfield, UK: Helm Information.
Onoda, Natsu. Tezuka Osamu and the Star System. International Journal of Comic Art, 5(1), 141-194.
MacWilliams Mark, Revisioning Japanese religiosity: Osamu Tezuka’s Hi no Tori (The Phoenix) (revised and expanded)
In Timothy J. Craig & Richard King (Eds.). Global goes local: Popular culture in Asia (pp. 177-208). Vancouver: UBC Press. pp. 177-208.
Onoda, Natsu. Drag prince in spotlight: Theatrical cross-dressing in Osamu Tezuka’s early shojo manga. International Journal of Comic Art, 4(2), 124-138.
MacWilliams, Mark. Japanese comic books and religion: Osamu Tezuka’s story of the Buddha.
In Timothy J. Craig (Ed.). Japan pop!: Inside the world of Japanese popular culture (pp. 109-137). Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe.
MacWilliams, Mark. Revisioning Japanese religiousity: Tezuka Osamu’s Hi no Tori (The Phoenix). Japanese Religions, 24(1), 79-100.
Kuwahara, Yasue. Japanese culture and popular consciousness: Disney’s The Lion King vs. Tezuka’s Jungle Emperor. The Journal of Popular Culture, 31(1), 37-48.