The cover of Apollo's Song
(Apollo no Uta)
|Genre||Drama, Romance, Science Fiction|
|Written by||Osamu Tezuka|
|Published by||Shōnen Gahōsha|
|Magazine||Weekly Shōnen King|
|Original run||April 26, 1970 – November 22, 1970|
Apollo's Song (アポロの歌 Aporo no Uta?) is a manga by Osamu Tezuka. It was originally serialized in Shukan Shōnen Kingu in Japan in 1970 (1970/04/26-1970/11/22) and was published in English translation in 2007.
The story follows a neglected and abused boy, Shogo, who does not have any feelings of love. Through a series of visions spanning the past and future, Shogo explores the meaning of love between man and woman.
According to the official Tezuka web site, sex education for children was a taboo in Japan in the late 1960s, but this changed suddenly in the early 1970s. Apollo's Song was created during a period where manga was increasingly portraying sexual stories and imagery, and was Tezuka's exploration of love and sex in manga form. This period in Japan was marked by violent student riots and incidents involving student activists, and Tezuka reportedly later said that Shogo's depressed character reflected the dark mood and instability in society at the time.
The story begins with the words of Tezuka describing love and death as a cycle that men and women must endure and repeat until the end of time. We are introduced to Shogo Chikaishi, a young boy living with his single mother, who gave birth to him after a series of affairs with various men. The hatred of Shogo's mother causes the boy to grow up lonely, bitter and angry. This leads to Shogo killing various animals upon seeing the love they give to their offspring. After sneaking into a farm and murdering a hen, Shogo is arrested and taken to a mental institute.
The head doctor at the institute uses shock therapy to try to clear Shogo's mind and stop his violent behavior. However, upon being shocked for the first time, Shogo has an out-of-body experience and ends up in a temple where he meets the Greek goddess of wisdom Athena, who subjugates him to a series of 'trials'. Shogo would have to experience love across different time periods for the rest of eternity, dying repeatedly until he can one day understand the true meaning of love.
Chapter 1 - Die Blumen und die Leiche (Flowers and the Corpse)
Shogo wakes up moments after meeting Athena to find himself in Nazi Germany, as part of a group of Stormtroopers guarding a train delivering Jews to a concentration camp. He falls in love with Elise, a Jewish prisoner within one of the train carts. When the Jews are forced to march to the camp following a bombing raid by Allied fighter planes on the train, Shogo attempts to help Elise escape. Following the confusion of another attack, Shogo uses the situation as a distraction to elope with Elise, but she shoots him when she discovers her parents were killed, blaming it entirely on him. Wounded, Shogo is unable to save Elise when she is beaten and then stripped and raped by the surviving stormtroopers. Despite using the last of his strength to shoot the soldiers dead, Shogo dies with Elise by his side but not before they declare their love for one another.
Chapter 2 - No Man' Land
Following a violent argument with the doctor, Shogo has another vision of an idyllic island he inhabits with a photographer named Naomi, after their plane crashes. Here, Shogo discovers the island is inhabited with animals of all species living together in harmony. After he kills a rabbit to gather food for Naomi, the other animals get revenge on Shogo by badly wounding her. Later, Shogo manages to communicate with the animals and discovers that they have been abandoned here to save them from being slaughtered back in Japan. After he and Naomi become closer, a ship full of poachers approaches the island, but a conflict with the animals ensues and Naomi is killed by a stray bullet. Shogo and the animals perish after the believed to be dormant volcano erupts.
Chapter 3 - The Coach
Back in the real world, Shogo is accused of accidentally murdering a nymphomaniac patient and escapes the institute, signaling a nationwide manhunt. After murdering a woman who was taking a walk with her boyfriend and then borrowing money from his reluctant mother Shogo is taken in and trained to be a marathon runner by a woman name Hiromi. Hiromi then reveals that her rough training is to help him become a great runner so that he can win the Olympics in her place someday. Shogo meets Hiromi's fiance, a cold and shady man who distrusts him.
Chapter 4 - Queen Sigma
Shogo has a vision of a dystopic future in which humans are subjugated by the race of clones called Synthians. He is sent to assassinate the queen of the Synthians, Queen Sigma, who physically resembles Hiromi. However, things don't go as planned and Shogo falls for her instead. Sigma invites Shogo to her retreat within the mountains and after trying to complete his mission, he discovers that she can be recloned within moments. Gradually Sigma begins to love him, but after several mishaps involving the clones of the queen, Shogo is killed by a clone of himself created by the general of the Synthians (who resembles Hiromi's fiance).
Chapter 5 - Lover's Hill
A young couple attempts a double suicide but Shogo rescues the girl, pretending that her boyfriend abandoned her. When the police hear reports of the attempted suicide and Shogo's whereabouts they encounter him. Hiromi's fiance attempts to kill Shogo in a climactic fight over a cliff, but when she steps in to break them up, Hiromi trips over the edge and falls. The fiance flees in shame, and Shogo escapes with a now blind and semi-brain damaged Hiromi. When the morning arrives, Hiromi and Shogo acknowledge their love for one another and she dies in his arms by the lakeside. The police, along with the doctor, find Shogo and attempt to inform him that the Nymphomaniac's death was her own fault. However, Shogo finally tells the doctor that he at last knows that true love can only be found in death, away from the sorrows of the world of the living. Shogo dumps Hiromi's body in a canister of oil and provokes the police into shooting him, causing the canister to explode and kill him instantly.
Shogo is brought back before Athena, who tells him that he must continue to endure pain and suffering whenever he finds love for the rest of eternity. Hiromi is resurrected and follows Shogo.
- Brady, Matthew J. (30 Sep 2007). "Apollo’s Song [II]". Manga Life. Archived from the original on 11 Oct 2007.
- Dacey, Katherine (1 Sep 2010). "Review Redux: Apollo's Song, Vols. 1-2". The Manga Critic.
- Santos, Carlo (12 Oct 2010). "Apollo's Ramen - RTO". Anime News Network.