BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

The Book of Human Insects by Osamu Tezuka, translated by Mari Morimoto

Book of Human Insects“I was born in an impoverished backwater, and could easily have lived out my days as an insignificant country girl,” a young woman modestly professes on stage as she receives the Akutagawa Prize, Japan’s highest literary honor for a debut author. Barely out of her teens, Toshiko Tomura has already enjoyed multiple, lavishly successful lives as her country’s finest actress, then director, becoming an internationally renowned designer, and now the most critically praised author for her eponymous The Book of Human Insects. Dubbed the “Woman of Talent,” she has a few more accomplished incarnations yet to be revealed …

Achieving such celebrity status has, of course, come at a cost. Media darling that she is, Toshiko’s most intimate relationship is with a stooped wax figurine, housed in an otherwise vacant house, a remote refuge far away from her adoring audience’s prying eyes. As for her fellow, living human beings, they’re merely vessels of potential from which she can learn, mimic, steal … and worse. To live is to compete, and – as the body count tallies up (and up and up) – for Toshiko, nothing will get in the way of winning.

Except for the lack of smart phones and other techno-devices, one would never guess that this manga is more than four decades old! Even the early-1970s mod fashions seem to fit right into our 21st-century, image-obsessed contemporary society. Osamu Tezuka, revered as the godfather of manga and best known for creating the adorable Astro Boy, was chillingly, inarguably ahead of his time. Who needs simplistic reality TV when you’ve got such a multi-pronged storyline enhanced with this much calculated destruction? Turn off the electronics already – get ready for a jolt of jarring intensity.

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Readers: Adult

Published: 2012 (United States)


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