Triton of the Sea (vols. 1-2) by Osamu Tezuka, translated by Eugene Woodbury, edited by Eileen Tse
When I say ‘brought to you by popular demand,’ I have indisputable proof here: 715 supporters put up almost 150% more than the requested funds in answer to Digital Manga‘s 2012 Kickstarter campaign to bring Triton of the Sea (along with two additional Tezuka titles, Unico and Atomcat), to an English-reading audience four decades after its native Japanese publication. How grateful are we for unfaltering groupie devotion for the ‘godfather of manga’?
Mermaids, monsters, and even more mythic creatures, oh my! “Since the dawn of time, legends of the sea have been with us. Tales of beautiful, terrifying, and mysterious oceans have aroused our minds with notions of fantasy, of phantasm,” the double-volume adventure begins. Following his grandmother’s astonishing tales, young Kazuya climbs down the dangerous cliffs surrounding his seaside village and discovers an abandoned baby boy.
Swaddled in “seaweed instead of bedding,” Kazuya takes the wide-eyed, gleefully-grinning bundle home. “If that baby stays in this village, bad fortune is bound to follow,” Kazuya’s grandmother warns. Her words prove prescient when a sudden earthquake hits, followed by a tsunami that kills Kazuya’s father. Resolutely determined to give Triton a family, Kazuya’s mother moves to Tokyo with Kazuya and Triton to begin a new life.
As a naive teenager, Kazuya is easy prey for city slickers. In grave frustration, Kazuya wreaks violent revenge after being cheated yet again and must flee for his life. Triton, meanwhile, grows quickly, maturing many years during a single growth spurt; although Kazuya and his mother realize Triton is not of this world, both remain unconditionally bound to him for life.
Triton is a creature of the sea, the last of a once mighty clan slaughtered to near extinction by order of King Poseidon. With Kazuya on the run, Triton is loath to leave their mother alone but he can no longer ignore his aquatic calling. Guided and protected by a golden dolphin, Triton must hunt and eradicate Poseidon’s monstrous children one by one, until he can confront the ignominious king himself. Alas, the watery despot is not Triton’s only adversary… the human race proves to be a far greater threat to the deep seas.
Part myth, part family drama, part biology lesson, part dire environmental warning decades ahead of its time, Triton is, like many of Tezuka’s beloved titles, ultimately a desperate plea for peace. Far too often, we humans are our own worst enemy, tragically destroying too many others as well: “However strong and powerful the people of the land may be, they are wrong when they try to claim both the ocean and the land as their own. There are many other living things besides humans,” Triton’s young son warns. Out of the mouth of babes, generation after generation, Tezuka masterfully continues to provide timeless lessons to be repeated again and again and again …
Readers: Middle Grade, Young Adult
Published: 1969, 2013 (United States)