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Book Review: Buddha Volume Three Devadatta by Osamu Tezuka (Series, #3) (Graphic Novel)

December 13, 2011 Leave a comment

Siddhartha in a cave.Summary:
Siddhartha is now a young monk pursuing knowledge and education.  He runs into a one-eyed monk who attempts to educate him on the concept of ordeals–essentially punishments for the body designed to help attain enlightenment.  The childhood of Devadatta is also depicted.  He is bullied and becomes a killer at a young age, thrown out to the wolves who then raise him.  Thus his hatred of humanity is explored.

Review:
I am consistently finding this series to be decidedly meh, yet I persist in reading it.  I think the art is a large piece of why.  It’s almost immediately relaxing to look at, so much so that it doesn’t really matter too much to me what the story is that’s going along with it.

I was intrigued to see a “raised by wolves” myth in another culture.  It’s interesting that instead of turning Devadatta into a great warrior, though, it makes him hate humans.  A great section is where the wolf mother tells Devadatta that humans are the only animals who kill when they are not hungry.  The kindness of and lessons to be learned from the animal world is a persistent theme throughout the series that I enjoy.

Siddhartha’s journey here though does not read at all the way I read it in Siddhartha in college.  I appreciate that we’re seeing how no one seems to have answers that ring true for him.  For instance, he does not agree with choosing physical punishment purely to suffer an ordeal for no apparent reason.  It’s interesting to see his nature depicted as one that just happens to be able to sniff out falseness.  It’s a different perspective on the Buddha that I value seeing.

It is odd though for a graphic novel series on an important topic like the Buddha’s life to feel as if it is best read by those already educated on the Buddha.  I assumed it would read like an easy introduction, but instead it is so subtle and leaves out so many key details that it is actually best read by those already well educated on Buddhism and the Buddha’s life.

3 out of 5 stars

Source: Public Library

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Previous Books in Series:
Buddha, Volume 1: Kapilavastu (review)
Buddha, Volume 2: The Four Encounters (review)