Life & Works of Osamu Tezuka at Japan Society NY

Japanamerica Author Pays Tribute to "Godfather" of Anime and Manga

The Life & Works of Osamu Tezuka

Thursday, November 7, 2013, 6:30 pm, at Japan Society

New York, NY – As we approach the 25th anniversary of the death of Osamu Tezuka, several commemorative tomes are on the horizon, from PictureBox's Osamu Tezuka: The Mysterious Underground Men by Osamu Tezuka due on shelves in November, to the possible U.S. digital release of his entire manga oevre.

While Tezuka's name is well known in the U.S., many do not fully realize his impact across genres of popular culture, both in Japan and abroad. "Tezuka created the blueprint for Japanese Manga and Anime artists―and it was vast," author and cultural critic Roland Kelts has said.

In The Life & Works of Osamu Tezuka, Kelts, whose popular book Japanamerica is an entertaining, in-depth look at the influx of Japanese art and design into the American mainstream, introduces and expounds upon Tezuka's body of work, especially its impact on all media and generational and cross-cultural influences. (In Japanamerica, Kelts writes that Tezuka was as much an inspiration to Hayao Miyazaki as Walt Disney was an inspiration to Tezkua.)

“He was just incredibly protean," Kelts said in an interview on the origins of anime and manga for Alimo Tokyo (video). "He would make manga about Nazi Germany, he would make manga based on Dostoyevsky, and he would create his own character such as Astro Boy or Mighty Atoms."

Moderated by NYC-based cartoonist Katie Skelly, Kelts' illuminating commentary unfolds against projected illustrations and video. In addition to graphics from Tezuka's masterpieces Astro Boy, New Treasure Island, Jungle Taitei/Kimba, Adolf, and Crime & Punishment, highlights include clips from Tezuka's short films Jumping, Push, and Story of a Certain Street Corner, as well as from the documentaries Anime: Drawing a Revolution and From Screen to Scrolls: The Art of Anime. Taking place November 7 at Japan Society, the talk is preceded by a wine reception with Japanese hors d'oeuvres.

Arguably best known as the creator of Astro Boy, Osamu Tezuka (1928-1989) has been called the “Godfather of Anime and Manga” due to his prolific output, pioneering techniques, and pervasive reimagining of genres. Although he is often referred to as the "Walt Disney of Japan", Helen McCarthy, author of The Art of Osamu Tezuka: God of Manga, wrote Tezuka "was more like Walt Disney, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Tim Burton, Arthur C. Clarke, and Carl Sagan all rolled into one incredibly prolific creator.” According to, "Over the course of his 40-year career, Tezuka created more than 700 volumes of manga, encompassing an estimated 150,000 pages of drawings. He also produced another 200,000 pages of storyboards and scripts for nearly 500 episodes of a variety of popular animated T.V. series and numerous award-winning short and feature-length animated films."

Tezuka's "manga and animated films had a tremendous impact on the shaping of the psychology of Japan's postwar youth… changing the face of literature and movies," notes the Tezuka Osamu museum. A licensed (though non-practicing) physician in his early career, Tezuka pushed boundaries with anatomically accurate surgical drawings in his renowned manga series Black Jack and Ode to Kirihito, two works that were “fiercely critical of the Japanese medical establishment, have inspired a generation of manga artists (mangaka) as well as shaping the national debate about medical reform in Japan” said Cian O'Luanaigh in Osamu Tezuka: Father of manga and scourge of the medical establishment.

Roland Kelts is a writer, editor and lecturer who divides his time between New York and Tokyo. He is the author of Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture has Invaded the US and the forthcoming novel, Access. He has presented on contemporary Japanese culture worldwide and has taught at numerous universities in Japan and the U.S., including New York University and the University of Tokyo. His fiction and nonfiction appear in such publications as Zoetrope: All Story, Psychology Today, Playboy, The Wall Street Journal, Vogue Japan, Adbusters magazine, The Millions, The Japan Times, Animation Magazine, Bookforum, and The Village Voice. He is the Editor in Chief of the Anime Masterpieces screening and discussion program, the commentator for National Public Radio's series, "Pacific Rim Diary“ and the author of a weekly column for The Daily Yomiuri newspaper. His latest project is the English edition of the Japanese literary culture magazine, Monkey Business, and his blog is can be found at

Katie Skelly is a cartoonist who lives and works in Queens, New York. Her first graphic novel, Nurse Nurse, was published by Sparkplug Books in 2012. Her next work, Operation Margarine, will be published by AdHouse Books in Spring 2014.

Founded in 1907, Japan Society is a world-class, multidisciplinary hub for global leaders, artists, scholars, educators, and English and Japanese-speaking audiences. At the Society, more than 100 events each year feature sophisticated, topically relevant presentations of Japanese art and culture and open, critical dialogue on issues of vital importance to the U.S., Japan and East Asia. An American nonprofit, nonpolitical organization, the Society cultivates a constructive, resonant and dynamic relationship between the people of the U.S. and Japan.

The Life & Works of Osamu Tezuka takes place Thursday, November 7, at 6:30 pm. Japan Society is located at 333 East 47th Street between First and Second avenues (accessible by the 4/5/6 and 7 subway at Grand Central or the E and M subway at Lexington Avenue). Tickets are $25/$20 Japan Society members, seniors and students. Tickets may be purchased in person at Japan Society, at, or by calling the box office at 212-715-1258. For more information, call 212-832-1155 or visit the website.

Lecture Programs at Japan Society are generously sponsored by Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ. Japan Airlines is the exclusive Japanese Airlines sponsor of Lecture Programs at Japan Society. United Airlines is the exclusive U.S. Airlines sponsor of Lecture Programs at Japan Society. Additional support is provided by Chris A. Wachenheim, and the Sandy Heck Lecture Fund.

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