Here now, gentle reader, the Physician and Surgeon’s Almanac for November 3.
As a boy, Tezuka become ill and was treated and cured by a doctor, which inspired him to study medicine. He went on to earn his medical degree from Osaka University. During the time of his studies, he asked his mother if he should pursue a career in medicine or in art. His mother replied, “You should do the thing you like most of all.”
Osamu Tezuka, M.D. never practiced medicine. He went on to become the most important figure in the history of Japanese comic art (manga) and animation (anime). “The Father of Manga”, “God of Comics”, “The Godfather of Anime”, “The Walt Disney of Japan” have all been used to describe Tezuka who’s prolific works include Iron Arm Atom (Astroboy), Jungle Emperor (Kimba the White Lion), Black Jack and his life’s work Phoenix.
Tezuka’s popularity extended beyond Japan as many of his comic books and animated television series were translated and became popular in other languages and countries.
Iron Arm Atom, popular as a Japanese comic in the ‘50s and cartoon in the ‘60s became know as Astro Boy in the United States with comic book and television series release in the 1980’s and a 3-D movie in 2009.
The animated series Jungle Emperor, based on the comic of the same name, was remaned Kimba the White Lion for American audiences in the US where it enjoyed wide popularity in the '60s.
Disney’s feature film The Lion King sparked controversy when a number of people began noticing strong similarities in to Tezuka’s Jungle Emperor, including several key scenes. Disney has called any similarity purely coincidental.
Tezuka, who greatly admired Walt Disney, did not live to see or comment on the Kimba/Simba – Jungle Emperor/Lion King controversy. He died of stomach cancer in 1989. But like Disney, Tezuka’s mark is indelible. Astro Boy merchandise is as ubiquitous in Japan as Mickey Mouse is in the US. Figurines of his other charaters are still sought after by young and old alike. Stamps have been issued in his honor. Several museums in Japan feature original works of Tezuka as part of their collection. And many artist see Tezuka as their inspiration to do the “the thing they like most of all”.