Shougo is a young man who has a problem with love, not just in humans be even with animals. He is even compelled to kill animals that show each other affection, which lands him in a mental hospital. Where during therapy he has a vision where he meets a goddess that dooms him to fall in love with the same girl over and over again, but one of them will always die before they can truly be together.
Osamu Tezuka truly is the god of manga. The attention to detail is simply staggering, and he produced his hundreds of thousands of pages of manga over the decades the long, hard way. Sometimes, when reading his work, one simply must stop and marvel at the art, even during the most engrossing of tales.
Apollo's Song, given to me by a friend, is quite epic, whether examined alone or alongside Tezuka's other works. It features, of course, Tezuka's unmistakable comic drawing style, combined with a dark, deep story about eternal punishment. The contrast in the story and its presentation is itself something truly amazing, and it
must be seen to be fully appreciated.
What happens to a man who hates the very concept of love? What must he endure in order to open up to the idea that even a troubled, abused fellow such as he can learn to truly love someone? What happens to our tortured anti-hero is nothing short of brutal, and never-ending. How he wound up being the sort of person he became can't truly be blamed on him, yet he receives retribution everlasting for rejecting love itself.
Shogo's journey is at times sweet, at times violent, and at times even peppered with hope, but is always a struggle. This story is a tragedy on a truly epic scale, stretching from the past well into the future, with the only constants being his name, his appearance, his punishment... and the face of one specific woman. The remaining details all change, yet his travels are very much a spiral, leading him downward into the bottomless.
This manga was made during a time when sex education was no longer taboo in Japan, and is not hesitant to take advantage of the new freedom this allowed the medium. This isn't one of Tezuka's family-friendly works. There's blood, there's nudity and enough else you don't want the young 'uns seeing. It's filled with plenty of immensely unlikeable characters supporting two very flawed, but ultimately likable people whose sad story has backdrops as brutal as the Holocaust.
Apollo's Song isn't for everybody. But for those who like solid story and the inimitable crafting and style of Osamu Tezuka, it's a must-read.
Every bigger cultural focus has had their origins somewhere, sometime in the past. At first they weren't really expanded. They weren't really respected or worshiped by the audience. Just like many today, they were simply there, not being overflown by masses. There's many of those around. Too many, we just don't even hear about the majority. In the case at hand, such a matter would be manga.
The author of Apollo's Song, Osamu Tezuka, is many times titled as the god of manga. Although he could become something else that was respected back then, the path led him into becoming a mangaka. Back in his time
of creating, around 1970 and even prior to that, manga was anything but a famous topic. We could say that he was one of the originators of it who have started it all. In other words, without him and other important artists as well as visionaries, the world of manga we have today probably wouldn't exist the way it does. He was one of the names that were emphasized the most and were truly representing some sort of an origin of the culture, resulting in the all-famous title of a manga god.
Among other famous creations such as Astro Boy, Kimba the White Lion and Black Jack, Osamu Tezuka has also written and drawn Apollo's Song. This psychological drama has quite some strength to it, spiced by fantasy and partial science fiction running around from time to time. Through the story we follow Shougo Chikaishi, a young boy who turns aggressive on every live being showing affections of love, brutally hurting and evening murdering them. Due to the possibility of him posing danger to human beings in the future as well, he is sent to rehab which is also the ground zero place of where the first half of the story takes place physically, but not mentally.
As we learn the background and reasoning of why Shougo takes the actions he does, we are shown how he is mentally put through trials which could potentially turn him around and make him experience love for the first time, with him embracing this love and not utterly destroying every essence of it. Since his mind is pretty much corrupted, the trials have to be even more harsh is order to rewrite everything wrong, resulting in them being pretty much trips through live hell. There is a setting presented, an idea of what suffering he must go through, which is also executed multiple times in a loop. This is the part where heavy psychological effect of the story is present, displayed in the shape of mental suffering and retaliation of all the sins done in the past.
The psychological vibe is present through the entire time, which I could also say is by far biggest strong-point of the series overall. It is there when Shougo is the one mutilating the live beings that show love and later when he is the one being taken through pain and suffering, both mental and physical, although the former is presented as the one that deals true damage. If one is prepared to read the entire work in a one-go, which I also highly recommend, it is strong enough to quite drain the energy out of the reader and leaves them thinking. There are multiple messages behind the story, ones being quite hinted out and direct while some requiring further examination and analysis of the work to understand and comprehend. In other words, we could say that the manga is relatively deep, not ending with a one-sided experience and thinking after being read.
Next to deepness, there is also complexity. Truth be told, this complexity changes so dynamically and heavily that one could say it is rather chaotic. With there being five chapters overall (the first one split in two parts), I must say that I didn't really expect too many changes on various factors such as the time of the story and such. But that is far from the case. In merely five chapters, there are so many changes taking place that it leaves one reflecting on just what was written and how the previous page relates to the current one. They are entirely different! The space and time changes, the main characters switch roles in a single page and the previous one is not heard of ever again, the surroundings and side-goals keep on changing, and so on. We basically follow our main protagonist, Shougo, as he is sent through many totally different trials with only two things staying the same: himself as the key spotlight of the story and the curse of falling in tragic love in every other space, time, and setting. It could be said we see a core being led by a static goal, while everything else constantly changes, bringing massive chaos to everything but a single thing that's pure and already decided. That and that alone is executed marvelously.
Regarding the art, it is wise to note that back in 1970, the manga were being drawn by hand alone, without any sort of technical help and assistance of computers. This means that every page out of 530 overall has been drawn manually and by the artist's skill alone. It's a matter worth respecting as we see that there is quite some detail input on some pages. An important matter to note is also that unlike manga nowadays, Apollo's Song is read from the left to the right. I didn't know that when I started reading and have read from the right to the left, but only then realized that some parts simply didn't make any sense, even if they tried being artistic by turning the sentences around. As for the greatness art itself, I must say that I quite liked it. The male characters usually have longer hair while the female characters have them cut to more or less short size, which has been that time's fashion. It might distract some due to the cast possibly not being attractive to what the culture finds attractive these days, but know that this has been written and drawn 45 years ago. Things change, especially our passion for fashion.
With the story holding its strength in the psychological department, characters being put through the trials of suffering and redemption, setting constantly changing but the main point as well as goal staying, we could say that Apollo's Song is grand. It's one of Osamu Tezuka's creations, who is titled to be the god of manga, but not only for being one of the originators of the culture, but also being the one who has done it on a high quality level. It might seem that I was only complimenting the manga through the entire time, but it is also true I have taken away some points. The parts I disliked were the entire setting of the fourth chapter which didn't impress me, the sudden jump onto it as well as out of it, and the always-changing main female lead. Some of the characters were simply forgotten, which is something I'm not a fan of, even though the story's main point is to potentially show the progression of a single character.
Regardless of personal preferences, I would advise anyone to read Apollo's Song or any other of Osamu Tezuka's creations, especially if you are a fan of manga in general. Everything originates from somewhere, sometime. If we truly care for the culture, we pay respect to where it all began.
Apollo's Song is an interesting manga by the God of Manga himself, Osamu Tezuka. It starts out by introducing Shogo, a kid that hates love so much that kill animals that show any signs of affection. Because of this habit, Shogo is sent to a mental hospital where he goes through electroshock therapy (it was written in 1970 after all). During one of his sessions, Shogo has a vision of him talking with a Greek goddess who then curses him for committing crimes against love. Shogo is sentenced to love a woman again and again but one of then will always tragically die. And that's
exactly what happens for the rest of the book. The comic is like a short story anthology filled with tragic love stories. All these sections are tied together by the theme of romantic love and how it can depressing it can be. The story is great for a comic but pretty mediocre for Tezuka. As good as it is, I'd recommend you read Phoenix or some other Tezuka manga before you Apollo's Song.