Saturday, February 25, 2012

Osamu Tezuka's MW is Mortally Wicked

© 2004 Vertical, Inc. All rights reserved.

No, that is not what the title stands for (it can be considered that though). In the story, “MW” is a name for something, but there is no explanation on what the initials stand for. Now I am not going to tell you what MW is in the story; you are going to have to read the book to find out. ;-) However, I can say that MW is why our protagonist, Michio Yuki, loses his mind and becomes the human embodiment of evil.

Of course, I only knew of this after completing MW (which is my second Tezuka story). However, the strategic ability, cunningness, and manipulative skills of the protagonist immediately unfolds in Chapter 1 (Tezuka could not wait to lure his readers in). As I continue to read the story, Yuki's manipulative and seductive skills escalate and reveal just how far he is willing to go to get what he wants. He does so by taking advantage of a character's weaknesses and out smarting him/her. Another character to take note of is a priest named Father Garai, who I believe is the antagonist of the story. He struggles with his own set of demons while trying to save Yuki from his. However, no matter how hard and often he tries, he gives into Yuki's seduction and demands. Most of the time, Yuki has him wrapped around his finger to do whatever bidding he requests.

For example: Yuki's chief introduces his daughter, Miho, to him and invites him to their home. When the trio reaches the house, she makes a bold statement to Yuki, “Why don't you come by my room later?” (p. 62). Throughout his visit, Yuki is a perfect gentleman and the family is fond of his presence. However, when he takes on Miho's offer, it is not the Yuki that she knew. He injects her with a lethal dose of picrotoxin and she dies instantly. He not only disposes the body, but anonymously asks the chief, who is unaware that Miho is already dead, for ransom money. The chief's wife goes to deliver the money and sees Miho. However, it is really Yuki impersonating Miho (a very good impersonation) while a certain unholy priest accepts the ransom on his behalf.

Although this story is a different read compared to Buddha, the art style is recognizable as Tezuka. However, there are four panels (starting from the bottom right hand corner of p. 86 to the bottom left hand corner of p. 87) that is unique compared to the rest of the panels in MW. I believe that it is a mythological or metaphoric representation of the relationship between Yuki and Father Garai. They are talking to each other while in bed, but it is not the actual characters' appearance that is being depicted.

For example: On the panel in the top left corner of p. 87, there is a person holding up a severed head that looks like Medusa from Greek mythology. The person holding it up is supposed to be Yuki because he speaks directly to the head by asking, “Are you going to have another of your ridiculous little talks with the bishop?” The head is supposed to be Father Garai. Now what does this mean? If the head is really Medusa, is the person holding up the head supposed to be Perseus? Well, I am not going to tell you what happens to Yuki and Father Garai, but it can be interpreted as a foreshadowing to what is yet to come.

Although the story kept me awake with its suspense and surprising deeds of evil, near the end of the book, a decision is made by Meguro of the Public Prosecutor's Office that involved a “cartoonish plan” (p. 543). As the plan slowly unveils, I was hoping my prediction of what was going to happen would not actually happen, but sadly, that was not the case. However, the ending was and is still haunting.

In general, many cultural, religious, and societal taboos are depicted. The acts that can be considered violations of moral codes are quite apparent and present throughout the story. However, these acts are what make our protagonist a victor while the antagonist continues to struggle to redeem himself until the very end. This is a story where happily ever after is on the dark side.
© 2012 Linda Thai

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