Monday, July 29, 2013

Message to Adolf Parts 1 and 2 by Osamu Tezuka

This is an amazing complex story set in Japan and Germany in the 1930s and 40s during the time of the Nazi regime and World War II. There are three Adolfs in the story. One is Adolf Hitler. The other two start out as young boys in Japan. One is a Jewish boy whose family owns a German bakery. Having always lived in Japan, he feels like he is Japanese even though he was born in Germany. The other Adolf's father is a German official living in Japan and his mother is Japanese.

Each boy struggles with the rise of the Third Reich as Jews become persecuted
throughout Europe and life in Japan becomes affected. Friendships are tested and loyalties questioned as the Nazis become more powerful and Hitler's views spread. After the United States enters the war, the Japanese people must deal with rationing and bombing raids. This portrayal of every day struggles I found fascinating. It is not a view we often see when learning about the 'enemy.'




A thread throughout the story involves secret documents that some believe could bring down Hitler. The documents pass through many hands and are hidden and secretly moved about throughout the country. People will torture and kill to obtain the documents before they become public.

You have no idea how much more I want to share from one of the best graphic novels I have ever read, but it would spoil key elements of the intricate plot. There is action mixed with deeper questions of identity and loyalty to country and race. There are moments of humor, too; mostly in the forms of character overreactions to situation (as depicted in the way the characters are drawn). These reactions are very much in the manga tradition. No surprise since the author is a pioneer of manga and anime.

Make no mistake, this is the Holocaust and the Nazi persecution of the Jewish people is graphically portrayed. It is not just the actual violence, but the thought of how human beings were treated that is sickening.

For more info about these books, check out the Evergreen library catalog for parts 1 and 2.


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