Home > Book, Genre, graphic novel, Review > Book Review: Buddha Volume Two The Four Encounters by Osamu Tezuka (Series, #2) (Graphic Novel)

Book Review: Buddha Volume Two The Four Encounters by Osamu Tezuka (Series, #2) (Graphic Novel)

Image of a mountainSummary:
The second entry in the novelization of the Buddha’s life takes us through Siddhartha’s youth spent as a prince.  He meets a mysterious Brahmin who tells him he is destined to help the whole world, not rule a single kingdom.  Siddhartha is weak, frequently sleeps, and has visions.  He is discontent as a prince yet reluctant to abandon his people.  On an adventure outside the castle walls he meets a grown-up Tatta and falls for a slave woman, Migaila.  Conflict between what he believes and his duties as a prince seem central to the plot, yet in fact it is Siddhartha’s reluctance to follow his calling and leave the castle to be a monk that is at the core of the conflict.

Review:
I was pleased to see this entry in the series jump right into Siddhartha’s life instead of those on the periphery, yet Tezuka also brings in the major characters from the first book as minor characters in this one.  It works well, definitely better than the first book.  However, I am left wondering if the love between Siddhartha and a slave woman was based at all on fact or hearsay or purely came out of Tezuka’s mind.  It would definitely give a new perspective on Siddhartha to know he once had an ill-fated love affair.

Although it’s important to know where the Buddha came from, it is difficult and not particularly enjoyable to read about the time in his life when he was a spoiled brat.  Siddhartha does not treat his wife or his father well.  Although he has natural talents with meditation and visions, he surprisingly lacks compassion for others.  One of the things I like, of course, about the Buddha is that he did start out this way.  He’s not perfect; he just learned and worked toward Nirvana.  So it’s important to see this part of his life, even if it is uncomfortable to read.

I again felt distracted by the characters Tezuka made up though.  I wish he had stuck to a straight-forward graphic novelization of Siddhartha or the legends of the Buddha at least.  The weakest points of the book are the parts including characters Tezuka made up purely on his own.

The art is again enjoyable but not amazing.  The pictures show the story but do not suck you in.  They give the feeling of being there to do a job, not necessarily to provide a memorable visual experience to the reader.

Overall, it’s an interesting new way to explore the life of the Buddha, but I would not recommend it to someone completely new to Siddhartha.  It is an improvement over the first entry, and hopefully they will continue to improve, but an idea that could have been great is simply average.  That’s disappointing.

3.5 out of 5 stars

Source: Public Library

Buy It

Previous Books in Series:
Buddha, Volume 1: Kapilavastu (review)

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