9 Best Osamu Tezuka Books to Read (Manga and More)

Osamu Tezuka is a name that every manga enthusiast should be familiar with. Often referred to as the “Godfather of Manga,” Tezuka is considered to be one of the most influential figures in the evolution of Japanese comics. His unique storytelling style and artistry have paved the way for the manga industry as it is today. In this article, we are going to dive deep into the legacy of Osamu Tezuka and explore some of his must-read works.

9 Best Osamu Tezuka Books to Read (Manga and More)

The Life and Legacy of Osamu Tezuka

Born in 1928 in Toyonaka, Osaka, Japan, Osamu Tezuka grew up watching Disney films and reading Western comics. His passion for storytelling inspired him to create his manga as a child, and he continued to hone his skills throughout his teenage years. Tezuka’s career took off in the 1940s when his manga, New Treasure Island, was published. His iconic works like Astro Boy, Buddha, Black Jack, and many others show his brilliance as a mangaka.

Early Life and Influences

Growing up, Tezuka was a voracious reader, devouring anything he could get his hands on, from classic literature to popular comics. His love for storytelling was inspired by the works of Western authors like William Shakespeare and Edgar Allan Poe, as well as the art of Walt Disney and Max Fleischer. These influences are visible in Tezuka’s work, where he combined elements of traditional manga with Western-style storytelling and animation techniques.

Tezuka’s childhood was also marked by the Second World War, which had a profound impact on him. He witnessed the devastation of the bombings in Osaka and the suffering of the Japanese people during the war. These experiences influenced his later works, which often explored mature themes such as social injustice, war, and the ethics of science.

The “Godfather of Manga” and His Impact on the Industry

Tezuka’s talent and innovation in storytelling and art revolutionized the manga industry. He introduced new narrative techniques that were unheard of before, such as cinematic panels and dynamic layouts. He also explored mature themes that were taboo in manga at the time, such as social injustice, war, and the ethics of science. His overwhelming contributions to the industry earned him widespread recognition and earned him the title “Godfather of Manga.”

Tezuka’s impact on the manga industry cannot be overstated. He inspired a generation of manga artists who followed in his footsteps and helped to establish manga as a legitimate art form. His works continue to be popular today and have been adapted into numerous anime series and films.

Tezuka’s Unique Art Style and Storytelling Techniques

Tezuka’s art style was distinctively different from anything that had been seen before. He used large, expressive eyes and exaggerated facial features, as well as strong lines and meticulously crafted backgrounds. One of his most notable techniques was his use of “limited animation,” which allowed him to create fluid and dynamic movements on a budget. In terms of storytelling, his works often combined elements of science fiction, adventure, and social commentary, creating a fine blend of genres.

Tezuka’s art style and storytelling techniques were groundbreaking and innovative. He pushed the boundaries of what was possible in manga and inspired countless artists to follow in his footsteps. His legacy continues to be felt today, and his influence can be seen in the works of many contemporary manga artists.

Must-Read Osamu Tezuka Manga Classics

Osamu Tezuka is widely regarded as the “Godfather of Manga” and for good reason. His works are timeless classics that continue to captivate audiences of all ages. Here are some must-read Osamu Tezuka manga classics that you should add to your reading list.

Astro Boy

Astro Boy 1 & 2

First published in 1952, Astro Boy is one of Tezuka’s most iconic works. The story follows a young robot boy created by a brilliant scientist named Dr. Tenma. Astro Boy fights to protect humans and robots from harm, and defends justice for all. The manga is set in a futuristic world where robots and humans coexist, and explores themes of discrimination and humanity. Astro Boy’s unique blend of action, science fiction, and social commentary made it an instant classic, and it is still beloved by fans of all ages today.

One interesting fact about Astro Boy is that it was the first anime to be broadcasted in the United States. It was dubbed in English and aired on NBC in 1963, introducing American audiences to the world of anime.

Black Jack

Black Jack, Volume 1

Black Jack is a story about a brilliant but unlicensed surgeon named Black Jack. The manga explores the boundaries of medicine and humanity, as Black Jack takes on difficult cases and overcomes seemingly impossible challenges. The intricate and detailed artwork, combined with the complex and well-rounded characters, make Black Jack a must-read for any manga fan.

Interestingly, Black Jack was inspired by an actual doctor named Jiro Ueno, who was known for his unorthodox medical practices. Tezuka met Ueno while he was a medical student and was inspired by his work, which he later fictionalized in the character of Black Jack.


Buddha, Volume 1: Kapilavastu

Buddha is an ambitious and complex work that explores the life of Siddhartha Gautama, who became the Buddha. Through its epic narrative, Tezuka tells the story of Buddha’s fight for enlightenment and his quest for peace. The artwork is particularly stunning, with vividly detailed panels that capture the beauty of ancient India and the grandeur of Buddha’s destiny.

Tezuka was known for his interest in Buddhism and was inspired to create Buddha after a trip to India. The manga took him over a decade to complete and is considered one of his greatest works.


Phoenix, Vol. 1: Dawn

Phoenix is a unique and ambitious manga that explores the themes of mortality and immortality through a series of interconnected stories. The manga follows different characters and time periods, all connected by the mysterious Phoenix and its supernatural powers. The technical complexity of Tezuka’s storytelling skills is on full display in Phoenix, making it a must-read for those who adore complex and layered plotlines.

Interestingly, Tezuka intended Phoenix to be his life’s work and was planning to continue the series until his death. Unfortunately, he passed away before he could complete it, leaving the series unfinished.

Kimba the White Lion

Kimba the White Lion is a story of a white lion cub named Leo, who attempts to restore peace between his animal kingdom and the human world. Kimba was a huge success, earning a TV adaptation, movie, and even an American adaptation called The Lion King. The manga is a heartwarming story that showcases Tezuka’s ability to create compelling characters and tell engaging tales.

Interestingly, The Lion King was accused of plagiarizing Kimba the White Lion, with many similarities between the two works. However, Disney denied the accusations and the controversy continues to this day.

Overall, Osamu Tezuka’s works continue to be influential and beloved by fans all over the world. His legacy as the “Godfather of Manga” is well-deserved, and his impact on the medium will continue to be felt for generations to come.

Lesser-Known Osamu Tezuka Masterpieces

Osamu Tezuka is often called the “Godfather of Manga” due to his significant contributions to the manga industry. While many of his works, such as Astro Boy and Black Jack, are well-known, there are several lesser-known masterpieces that deserve recognition. In this article, we will take a closer look at five of Tezuka’s lesser-known works that are just as thought-provoking and engaging as his more popular titles.

Ode to Kirihito

Ode to Kirihito, Part 1

Ode to Kirihito is a complex and dark story about Kirihito Osanai, a doctor who is sent to investigate the cause of an unknown and deadly disease. As he delves deeper into the investigation, he uncovers a web of lies and conspiracies that threaten to destroy his life and the lives of those around him. The manga explores topics such as animal rights, prejudices, and personal sacrifice. The twisted plot, accompanied by Tezuka’s excellent treatment of his characters and masterful storytelling, makes Ode to Kirihito a must-read for those looking for a complex story that is both engaging and thought-provoking.

One of the most interesting aspects of Ode to Kirihito is the way Tezuka uses animal imagery to comment on human behavior. For example, one character is depicted as a snake, while another is portrayed as a sheep. This use of animal symbolism adds depth and nuance to the story, making it even more compelling.



MW is a tale about a conspiracy between a psychopathic killer and the priest who killed him. The manga explores the depths of human evil, the corruption of power, and the morals of complicity. With unique and vivid imagery and subtle character development, MW is a haunting work that is both disturbing and captivating.

One of the most striking things about MW is the way Tezuka portrays the relationship between the killer and the priest. Despite their opposing roles, there is a strange sense of camaraderie between them, which makes their actions all the more chilling. This dynamic adds a layer of complexity to the story, making it a fascinating read.



Dororo is a story of a young samurai named Hyakkimaru, who is born without limbs, nose, mouth, ears, or eyes. Hyakkimaru sets out on a journey to regain his body parts and defeat the demons who stole them. The manga has a dark tone, but it is also full of action, adventure, and fantastic artwork. The overarching themes of redemption and human connections make Dororo a masterpiece not to be missed.

One of the most impressive things about Dororo is the way Tezuka uses the supernatural elements of the story to comment on human nature. The demons that Hyakkimaru faces are not just mindless monsters, but representations of the vices and flaws that plague humanity. This makes the story both thrilling and thought-provoking.

Message to Adolf

Message to Adolf, Part 1

Message to Adolf is another of Tezuka’s ambitious works, with its exploration of the themes of identity, sacrifice, and the Holocaust. It’s a story about two boys named Adolf, one of whom is the son of a German Jew and another who becomes a Nazi. The intricate plot, engaging characters, and thoughtful examination of the historical events make Message to Adolf a masterwork by the “Godfather of Manga.”

One of the most impressive things about Message to Adolf is the way Tezuka weaves together multiple storylines to create a cohesive narrative. The story jumps between different time periods and locations, but Tezuka manages to keep everything organized and easy to follow. This is a testament to his skill as a storyteller.


Ayako - Édition prestige

Ayako is a story of a wealthy Japanese family in the aftermath of World War II. The manga explores themes such as political corruption, greed, and past traumas. Ayako is a work with a deep and complex narrative, making it a must-read for those who want to explore the darker aspects of human nature through the medium of manga.

One of the most interesting things about Ayako is the way Tezuka uses the setting to comment on Japanese society in the post-war era. The story takes place in a small rural town, which allows Tezuka to explore the tensions between traditional values and modernization. This adds depth and nuance to the story, making it a fascinating read.

In conclusion, Osamu Tezuka was a master storyteller who created several works that deserve more recognition. Ode to Kirihito, MW, Dororo, Message to Adolf, and Ayako are all excellent examples of Tezuka’s skill as a manga artist and writer. If you’re a fan of manga or just looking for engaging and thought-provoking stories, these works are definitely worth checking out.


Osamu Tezuka’s works continue to inspire and influence generations of artists and writers alike, and his legacy remains an integral part of the manga industry. From his unique art style to his innovative storytelling techniques, Tezuka’s classics showcase his brilliance as a mangaka like no other. Whether you’re a long-time fan or discovering his work for the first time, these titles are a perfect starting point to explore the world of Osamu Tezuka’s manga.


What is manga?

Manga is a form of Japanese graphic novels and comic books that is aimed at both adults and younger readers. There are mangas written in every genre, from romance to horror.

When did manga first become popular?

The popularity of manga peaked in 1995. 1.3 billion manga collections were published in 1995 alone. Manga still remains hugely popular across the globe.

How many books has Osamu Tezuka authored?

Tezuka wrote four novels and contributed to over 700 manga volumes during his career. Best known for creating Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion, Tezuka has been hailed as the father of manga.

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Eddison Monroe
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