Brazilian cartoonist Mauricio de Sousa is keeping a promise made long ago to Osamu Tezuka, the legendary Japanese animator, on a joint project they discussed just before his death in 1989.
De Sousa, a 76-year-old Brazilian animation giant in Brazil, will publish an adventure manga in February featuring Tezuka’s renowned “Astro Boy” and “Princess Knight.”
The manga will feature de Sousa’s characters, along with Tezuka’s two protagonists, battling a smuggling organization chopping down hundreds of trees in the jungles of the Amazon.
The adventure manga featuring Tezuka’s characters will be published in two episodes of de Sousa’s popular “Turma da Monica” (Monica’s Gang) series, compiled in two books consisting of 240 pages, at the end of February and March in Brazil.
De Sousa, a fervent fan of Tezuka, met the Japanese cartoonist in 1984 when Tezuka visited Brazil. The two animators, deepening their relationship, promised, “Let’s create an adventure film together to disseminate messages calling for world peace.”
When de Sousa visited Japan in 1989, Tezuka, battling stomach cancer in the advanced stages at a hospital, sneaked out of the facility to see his friend at his hotel. While talking about films, Tezuka appeared to regain his vigor, and the conversation continued for several hours, de Sousa recalled.
Learning of Tezuka’s death only several weeks after their meeting, de Sousa started wondering if he could feature Tezuka’s characters in his “Turma da Monica” series, so that he would keep his promise to his friend.
De Sousa’s adventure manga is the first time that Tezuka Productions Co. has allowed overseas animators to use Tezuka’s characters.
Many of the staff at de Sousa’s production company are of Japanese descent.
“Since most of my staff learned Japanese through Tezuka’s works, we are all familiar with Tezuka’s style,” De Sousa said. “I feel immense responsibility for this project because this is about my promise to a friend of mine with historic achievements in manga.
"I am making an all-out effort (to make the project successful) because I want to keep my promise to the 'God of manga.' ”
Born in Osaka in 1928, Tezuka is an iconic figure of the rapid post-war economic development in Japan in the field of manga, with a number of hits including "Black Jack," in addition to "Astro Boy" and "Princess Knight."
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