Before this time in Japan I read every issue of Mangajin as well as several of the serialized volumes of Kochi Kame. I thought I’d be enjoying manga by now. Unfortunately, after reading a few issues of the most popular weekly manga, Shonen Jump (週刊少年ジャンプ), I realized that most manga do not appeal to me in the least. Outside of Kochi Kame (こちら葛飾区亀有公園前派出所), only about two of the 22 manga in Shonen Jump are even mildly interesting to me.
However, since we live near Osamu Tezuka‘s stomping grounds, the libraries in the area carry some of his works. I recently picked up the first installment of his Adolf series (in Japanese) and had a hard time putting it down. A month later and I have consumed all 5 volumes (or over 1,100 pages).
I don’t think I would have found the Adolf series nearly as interesting in English, but an English translation is available and the reviews are good. Unfortunately, the first issue in English is hard to find at a decent price.
Other sites provide detailed summaries and character descriptions so I won’t go into that here. Even though the contents are fictitious you can learn a bit of history and get a flavor of Japan before, during, and immediately after World War 2. The series isn’t just about history though. The character development is fantastic, the illustrations superb, and the dialog engaging. It is a manga though so there are some jokes and Tezuka does get a bit carried away with “chance meetings.”
In Japanese the books are simply called アドルフに告ぐ (or Tell Adolf) and numbered 1 to 5. The reader doesn’t find out the meaning for the アドルフに告ぐ line until the last few pages of the 5th book. In English the names are:
Adolf: A Tale of the Twentieth Century
Adolf: An Exile in Japan
Adolf: The Half-Aryan
Adolf: Days of Infamy
Adolf: 1945 and All That Remains