Phoenix (manga)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Phoenix (manga) volume 1.jpg
Cover art of the Phoenix: Dawn 2009 reprint
(Hi no Tori)
Written byOsamu Tezuka
Published byVarious
English publisherViz Media
MagazineManga Shōnen (1954–1955)
Shōjo Club
Manga Shōnen
Yasei Jidai
English magazine
Original runJuly 1954February 1988
Live-action film
Hi no Tori
Directed byKon Ichikawa
Produced byKunihiko Murai
Kon Ichikawa
Written byShuntaro Tanigawa
Music byMichel Legrand
Jun Fukamachi
ReleasedAugust 19, 1978
Runtime138 minutes
Anime film
Phoenix 2772
Directed byTaku Sugiyama
Produced byKiichi Ichikawa
Susumu Aketagawa
Written byOsamu Tezuka
Music byYasuo Higuchi
StudioTezuka Productions
ReleasedMarch 15, 1980
Runtime122 minutes
Anime film
Phoenix: Karma Chapter
Directed byRintaro
Produced byMasao Maruyama
Yasuteru Iwase
Written byTomoko Konparu
Hideo Takayashiki
Music byFumio Miyashita
StudioMadhouse & Tezuka Productions
ReleasedDecember 20, 1986
Runtime60 minutes
Original video animation
Phoenix: Yamato/Space Chapter
Directed byToshio Hirata (Yamato)
Yoshiaki Kawajiri (Space)
Produced byMasao Maruyama
Written byTomoko Konparu
Hideo Takayashiki
Music byFumio Miyashita
StudioMadhouse & Tezuka Productions
Released August 1, 1987 December 21, 1987
Runtime48 minutes (each)
Anime television series
Directed byRyōsuke Takahashi
Produced byShinichi Tominaga
Kensuke Kishi
Written byFuyunori Gobu (eps 1-4)
Keiichi Hasegawa (eps 5-6)
Gisaburō Sugii (ep 7)
Toru Nozaki (eps 8-11)
Hirotoshi Kobayashi (eps 12-13)
Music byYuji Nomi
Hidekazu Naichi
StudioTezuka Productions
Licensed by
Original networkNHK
English network
Original run April 4, 2004 June 27, 2004
Episodes13 (List of episodes)

Phoenix (火の鳥, Hi no Tori, "Bird of Fire") is an unfinished manga series by Osamu Tezuka. Tezuka considered Phoenix his "life's work"; it consists of 12 books, each of which tells a separate, self-contained story and takes place in a different era. The plots go back and forth from the remote future to prehistoric times. The story was never completed, having been cut short by Tezuka's death in 1989. Several of the stories have been adapted into anime series and OVAs, and a live-action movie. As of 2007, the entire manga series is available in English-language translations.

Phoenix is considered one of the greatest manga of all time,[2][3][4] and is often ranked as one of Tezuka's greatest manga.[5]


Phoenix is about reincarnation. Each story generally involves a search for immortality, embodied by the blood of the eponymous bird of fire, which, as drawn by Tezuka, resembles the Fenghuang. The blood is believed to grant eternal life, but immortality in Phoenix is either unobtainable or a terrible curse, whereas Buddhist-style reincarnation is presented as the natural path of life.

The stories spring back and forth through time; the first, Dawn, takes place in ancient times, and the second, Future, takes place in the far future. Subsequent stories alternate between the past and future, allowing Tezuka to explore his themes in both historical and science fiction settings. Throughout the stories there are various recurring characters, some from Tezuka's famous star system. A character named Saruta appears repeatedly, for example, in the form of various ancestors and descendants, all of whom endure harsh trials in their respective eras.

Tezuka began work on a preliminary version of Phoenix in 1954, and the series continued in various forms until his death in 1989. As it progresses, the stories seemed to be converging on the present day. Due to Tezuka dying before the manga's completion, it is not known how this would have played out. Scholar and translator Frederik L. Schodt, who knew Tezuka in life, wrote that he fantasized about a secret ending, "waiting in a safe somewhere to be revealed posthumously."[6] This was not the case, and Tezuka's final intentions with Phoenix remain unknown; its episodic nature leaves each volume highly accessible nonetheless.

Many of the Phoenix stories feature an intensely experimental layout and visual design. For example, Universe tells the story of four spacefarers who are forced to leave their spaceship in separate escape pods. The panels of the story are organized such that each character has his own vertical or horizontal tier on the page, emphasizing the astronauts' isolation; the tiers combine and separate as characters join and split up. In an astonishing sequence after one character's death, he is represented for a number of pages by a series of empty black panels.

Tezuka was said to have been influenced to create the series after listening to the music of Igor Stravinsky. He also told that he created the image of Phoenix as he was impressed by the Firebird in director Ivan Ivanov-Vano's animation film Konyok Gorbunok (Soyuzmultfilm studio).


After several aborted attempts at a first chapter in the 1950s published in the magazine Manga Shōnen,[7] Tezuka began Dawn in 1967, serialized in COM.[8] The serialization of Phoenix would continue throughout his career, moving to Manga Shōnen after COM's closure in the mid-70s. The final volume, Sun, was serialized in The Wild Age.

Dawn (黎明編, reimei-hen)
The first volume, originally serialized in 1967. This story took place in 240–70 AD, in the era of Queen Himiko of the Yamatai. Using her army, led by feudal general Sarutahiko, to invade the Kumaso, she seeks the Phoenix and eternal youth.
Future (未来編, mirai-hen)
Cover of Phoenix: Future, C0M Masterpiece Comics edition, printed in 1968
The second volume, originally serialized in 1967–68. In Phoenix's chronology, this is the final story; it took place near the end of mankind. In 3404, the world has become super-modernized, but humanity has reached its peak and shows decline. A young man named Masato Yamanobe is living with his girlfriend, Tamami, a shapeshifting alien. Pursued by Masato's boss, Rock, they eventually take shelter at the isolated base of mad scientist Dr. Saruta, who attempts to preserve life on Earth with the assistance of his robot, Robita. Eventually, nuclear war breaks out.
Yamato (ヤマト編, yamato-hen)
The third volume, originally serialized in 1968–69. This story took place in 320–50 (Kofun period), and is based on the Yamato-takeru-no-mikoto[9] legend. The decadent king of Yamato is trying to have his own version of Japan's history written. Meanwhile, a "barbarian" tribe, the Kumaso, is writing an unbiased history. The king of Yamato sends his youngest son, Oguna, to murder the barbarian chief, Takeru. On his journey, Oguna encounters the Phoenix.
Universe (宇宙編, uchū-hen)
The fourth volume, originally serialized in 1969; also known as Space. The story took place in 2577 AD, where four astronauts must escape their ruined spaceship in escape pods. The survivors eventually crash into a mysterious planet. Among them is Saruta, who contends with Makimura for the heart of their female companion, Nana. On this strange planet, they eventually meet the Phoenix.
Hō-ō (鳳凰編, hō-ō-hen)
The fifth volume, originally serialized in 1969–1970. The story occurred in 720–752 AD (the period in which the Daibutsu of Tōdai-ji was built), during the Nara period. One-eyed and one-armed young man Gao, an ancestor of Saruta, turns into a murderous bandit when he is rejected by his village. He attacks a sculptor, Akanemaru, and the two men's paths diverge, but their fates remain linked. Akanemaru becomes obsessed with the Phoenix to the point that he loses sight of his original dreams, while Gao eventually finds a state of grace despite his continuing hardships. Hō-ō is widely considered the masterpiece of the Phoenix series.[6] MSX and Famicom video games, both developed by Konami, were based on this volume. The Viz (English) edition is entitled "Karma".
Resurrection (復活編, fukkatsu-hen)
The sixth volume, originally serialized in 1970–1971. The story took place in 2482–3344 AD. In an age of robotics, technology and science, young Leon dies in a car accident. He is returned to life by scientific surgery, but his now mostly-artificial brain makes him see living things – including humans – as distorted clay figures, while he sees machines and robots as beauties. Leon falls in love with a worker robot, Chihiro, whom he sees as a beautiful girl, and would fight for this forbidden love. He would also find out the secret behind his accident. A side plot features the robot Robita, who previously appeared in Future.
Robe of Feathers (羽衣編, hagoromo-hen)
Serialized in COM, 1971. Published in English by Viz as an appendix to the second volume of Civil War (Turbulent Times). Based on the story of the Hagoromo.
Nostalgia (望郷編, bōkyō-hen)
Published in COM, 1971; continued in Manga Shōnen, 1976–1978. A science fiction epic about the rise and fall of civilization on the deceptively named desert planet of Eden; and one boy's universe-spanning search for the planet of his ancestors: Earth. Features numerous cameos from other Science fiction-based Phoenix stories, including the shapeshifting alien "Moopies" first seen in Future, Makimura from Universe and an early model of the Chihiro robot from Resurrection. Black Jack also made an appearance here, under a different name.
Turbulent Times (乱世編, ranse-hen)
Published in Manga Shōnen, 1978–1980. The story is about a woodcutter named Benta and his childhood sweetheart, Obu, who are separated and caught up in the events of the Genpei War. Various historical figures, such as Taira no Kiyomori, appear as major and minor characters. Although the character of Gao (from Ho-ō) appears as a 400-year-old hermit and thus links Ranse-hen to the rest of the series, this particular arc stands out for its much more naturalistic approach, with next to no fantasy elements in it (except for those used for comedic effect, such as telephones in the 12th century). The Viz (English) edition is entitled Civil War and is split into two volumes, with Robe of Feathers included as an appendix to the second volume.
Life (生命編, seimei-hen)
Published in Manga Shōnen, 1980. A TV producer who attempts to procure human clones to use in a The Most Dangerous Game-style reality TV program learns the error of his ways when he is mistaken for a clone himself. This episode is notable for only featuring the Phoenix in flashbacks and also for introducing her half-human daughter who does not appear again after this episode.
Strange Beings (異形編, igyō-hen)
Published in Manga Shōnen, 1981. The story of a female Buddhist nun (bhikkhuni) who is imprisoned in a time-warp by the Phoenix as punishment for her sins along with her faithful retainer and is forced to become a healer treating the victims of wars from all over time and space including humans, youkai and various extraterrestrials. This chapter was loosely based on the Hyakki Yakō emakimono by the famous Japanese artist Tosa Mitsunobu (although in the context of the story it's the complete opposite).
Sun (太陽編, taiyō-hen)
Published in The Wild Age, 1986–88. This is the longest story, and was the final volume completed before Tezuka's death.[10] It centers on Harima, a young Korean soldier from the Baekje Kingdom whose head is replaced with that of a wolf by Tang Dynasty soldiers following the defeat of the joint Baekje-Yamato force at the Battle of Baekgang. He then escapes to Japan where he becomes the feudal lord Inugami and becomes caught in the middle of the Jinshin War, as well as joining a greater battle between supernatural forces and time-travelling to a bleak future world ruled by a theocracy that claimed to have captured the Phoenix. This chapter stands in stark contrast to the earlier historical Phoenix stories, which tended to de-mythologize the mythical characters therein, for instance in Dawn, many Shinto gods are portrayed as mere humans. In this chapter, however, a wide variety of mythical creatures are shown fighting against Bodhisattva.
Early Works
Covers the prototype version of the series from the 1950s.


Strange creatures


Publication timeline
Dawn Manga Shounen July 1954-May 1955
Egypt Shojo Club May 1956-October 1956
Greece Shojo Club November 1956-July 1957
Rome Shojo Club August 1957-December 1957
Dawn COM January 1967-November 1967
Future COM December 1967-September 1968
Yamato COM September 1968-February 1969
Space COM March 1969-July 1969
Karma COM August 1969-September 1970
Resurrection COM October 1970-September 1971
Robe of Feathers COM October 1971
Intermission COM November 1971
Nostalgia COM (COM Comics) December 1971-January 1971
Civil War COM August 1973
Nostalgia Manga Shounen September 1976-March 1977
Civil War Manga Shounen April 1978-July 1980
Life Manga Shounen August 1980-December 1980
Strange Beings Manga Shounen January 1981-April 1981
Sun Yasei Jidai January 1986- February 1988

English edition[edit]

Phoenix is currently published in English by Viz Communications. Although the second volume was initially published by the now defunct Pulp manga anthology in a larger edition, in 2002,[11] Viz took over the rest of the manga series, and re-released the second volume. Frederik Schodt, Jared Cook, Shinji Sakamoto, and Midori Ueda, members of a Tokyo group called "Dadakai," had already translated the first five volumes of the series around 1977/78, but after handing these translation to Tezuka Productions, they collected dust for nearly twenty-five years. Finally, Schodt and Cook finished translating the rest of the series and Viz published the entire series in English, starting in 2002 and completing it in March 2008. It has been criticized for being a dumbing-down, including overlapping artwork with unnecessary new narration, and altering character names (such as Sarutahiko to Saruta) to make their reincarnations more obvious to the reader. However, Tezuka was known to update his manga every few years; so the U.S. version could reflect the last known edition of the series.[citation needed]

The Viz editions are released "flipped" (the original right-to-left orientation is reversed for easier reading in English). Some of the shorter stories have been consolidated into one book (based on the Japanese publication), and Troubled Times has been split across two; this resulted in each Viz book having a similar page count. While many of the actual Viz books are out of print, they became available again through digital purchase on Kindle. Viz later offered the digital version of Phoenix manga on 2014.[12]

Volumes in English[edit]

Phoenix, Vol. 6: Nostalgia cover
Vol. 1 – Dawn
Released March 2003.
Vol. 2 – A Tale of the Future / Future
This volume was released first, in May 2002, as a stand-alone graphic novel;[13] Dawn was released a year later, as Vol. 1, followed by the rest of the series. A Tale of the Future was initially released in a larger size; the series releases, starting with Dawn, are digest-sized. A Tale of the Future was reprinted in the smaller size in 2004, titled Future, with Vol. 2 appended to the title.
Vol. 3 – Yamato / Space
Collects Yamato and Space in one book; released November 2003.
Vol. 4 – Karma
Originally titled Ho-ō; released May 2004. Listed at #2 in Time Magazine's "Best Comix of 2004".[14]
Vol. 5 – Resurrection
Released December 14, 2004.
Vol. 6 – Nostalgia
Released March 26, 2006.
Vol. 7 – Civil War, Part 1
Originally titled Troubled Times, and here split into two books; the first was released June 13, 2006.
Vol. 8 – Civil War, Part 2 / Robe of Feathers
Collects the ending of Troubled Times, and includes Robe of Feathers; released September 12, 2006.
Vol. 9 – Strange Beings / Life
Collects Strange Beings and Life in one book; released December 19, 2006.
Vol. 10 – Sun, Part 1
Released March 20, 2007.
Vol. 11 – Sun, Part 2
Released September 18, 2007.
Vol. 12 – Early Works
Released March 18, 2008.


Live-action film[edit]

A live-action film entitled Hi no Tori, based on the Dawn storyline, directed by Kon Ichikawa and including some animated sequences directed by Tezuka, was released in 1978. The cast included Tomisaburo Wakayama and Tatsuya Nakadai. It was released in the United States on VHS by Video Action under the cover title The Phoenix (Hinotori) in 1982, using a subtitled print, letterboxed only in the split-screen sequence. To date, the film is available on DVD only in Spain, where it is titled Fénix.[15] The film included a brief appearance by Astro Boy, substituting for another character to illustrate his attempts to get on a horse. The score was co-composed by Michel Legrand and Jun Fukamachi.


Several volumes of Phoenix were adapted into anime. The best-known feature film, Phoenix 2772, loosely adapts elements from various Phoenix volumes and other Tezuka works into a complete whole cloth scenario.[16] A second animated feature, Phoenix: Karma Chapter was released on December 20, 1986, and was later succeeded by two sequel OVAs, Yamato Chapter and Space Chapter, in 1987.

A 13-episode anime television series also aired in 2004 in Japan, and was released in English in October 2007 by Anime Works. As of 21 June 2017, the anime has premiered in Jamaica on CVM Television.

Episode list[edit]

No. Title Original airdate
1–4"Dawn arc"
"Reimeihen" (黎明編)
April 4–25, 2004 (2004-04-04 – 2004-04-25)
5–6"Resurrection arc"
"Fukkatsuhen" (復活編)
May 2–9, 2004 (2004-05-02 – 2004-05-09)
7"Strange creatures arc"
"Igyouhen" (異形編)
May 16, 2004 (2004-05-16)
8–11"Sun arc"
"Taiyouhen" (太陽編)
May 23 – June 13, 2004 (2004-05-23 – 2004-06-13)
12–13"Future arc"
"Miraihen" (未来編)
June 20–27, 2004 (2004-06-20 – 2004-06-27)

Video games[edit]

A MSX adaptation of Karma was created by Konami.[17] The Phoenix also made a cameo appearance in the 2003 Astro Boy series and 2004 Astro Boy: Omega Factor game for the Nintendo Game Boy Advance, along with a number of other Tezuka characters.

  • Hi no Tori Hououhen (1987, MSX2)
  • Hi no Tori Hououhen: Gaou no Bouken (1987, Famicom)
  • Black Jack Hinotorihen (2006, Nintendo DS)
  • DS de Yomu Series: Tezuka Osamu Hi no Tori 1 (2008, Nintendo DS)
  • DS de Yomu Series: Tezuka Osamu Hi no Tori 2 (2008, Nintendo DS)
  • DS de Yomu Series: Tezuka Osamu Hi no Tori 3 (2008, Nintendo DS)

Reception and legacy[edit]

Phoenix is considered one of the greatest manga of all time. In 2006, Phoenix ranked 1st in the Japan Media Arts Festival's special 'experts' ranking (consisting of critics, editors, people working in the industry, etc.) for the greatest manga of all time, which it held to mark its 10th anniversary.[18] In a 2009 poll held by Asahi Shimbun for 'Greatest Shōwa Manga', Phoenix ranked 12th, the 3rd highest Tezuka manga behind Astro Boy and Black Jack.[19] Mangaka Naoki Urasawa has spoken about how the first time he read Phoenix he was shocked that a work of this quality existed, and that since reading it, he has never been as significantly impacted by anything since, so much so that he would mark it as the moment he became an adult.[20]

The titular Phoenix is considered an icon of manga, and a sculpture of the character is featured as a prominent permanent exhibition in the Kyoto International Manga Museum.[21] A statute of the Phoenix is also featured outside the Osamu Tezuka Manga Museum.[22]

The Resurrection arc of Phoenix inspired the lyrical theme of the 2018 song "M.D.O." by heavy metal band Lovebites.[23]

In celebration of what would have been Tezuka's 90th birthday, Evil Line Records released the compilation album New Gene, Inspired from Phoenix on October 30, 2019. It features songs inspired by Phoenix written and performed by various artists, including Glim Spanky, Kizuna AI, Tavito Nanao and Naotarō Moriyama.[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Official Website for Phoenix". Viz Media. Retrieved December 11, 2017.
  2. ^ 中野晴行 (2020-05-09). "手塚治虫の『火の鳥』が急激に売り上げを伸ばした理由〈dot.〉". AERA dot. (アエラドット). Retrieved 2022-10-18.
  3. ^ Sparrow, A. E. (2007-04-24). "Phoenix Vol. 10 Review". IGN. Retrieved 2022-10-18.
  4. ^ Kosaka, Kris (2016-06-11). "'Phoenix': Osamu Tezuka's epoch-spanning manga masterpiece". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2022-10-18.
  5. ^ "PHOENIX: A Tale of the Future by Osamu Tezuka". September 23, 2002. Retrieved 2022-10-18.
  6. ^ a b Schodt, Frederik L. (1996). Dreamland Japan: Writings on Modern Manga. Berkeley: Stone Bridge Press. ISBN 1-880656-23-X.
  7. ^ "Manga Station Alphabet List P". Tezuka Osamu @World. Retrieved September 25, 2006.
  8. ^ "The Phoenix: Dawn [COM version]". Tezuka Osamu @World. Retrieved September 25, 2006.
  9. ^ "Kojiki, Book Two, Chapter 80". Archived from the original on October 18, 2006. Retrieved September 25, 2006.
  10. ^ "The Phoenix: The Sun". Tezuka Osamu @World. Retrieved September 25, 2006.
  11. ^ Tezuka, Osamu (2003). Phoenix: Yamato/Space. ISBN 159116026X.
  12. ^ "Viz Begins Offering Osamu Tezuka's "Phoenix" Manga Digitally". Crunchyroll. January 23, 2014. Retrieved January 23, 2020.
  13. ^ "Viz To Release Tezuka's Phoenix: A Tale of the Future". ICv2. Retrieved September 25, 2006.
  14. ^ Arnold, Andrew (December 18, 2004). "TIME 2004 Best and Worst: Comix". Time. Archived from the original on December 23, 2004. Retrieved September 25, 2006.
  15. ^ "The Toho Legacy, Part 3." The Japanese Fantasy Film Journal #15
  16. ^ "Anime Station Alphabet List P". Tezuka Osamu @World. Retrieved September 25, 2006.
  17. ^[bare URL image file]
  18. ^ "日本のメディア芸術100選". 2007-03-20. Archived from the original on 2007-03-20. Retrieved 2022-10-18.
  19. ^ "漫画名作ランキング~歴代の傑作マンガ/コミック【昭和編】". Retrieved 2022-10-18.
  20. ^ "虫ん坊 2014年12月号(153)". (in Japanese). Retrieved 2022-10-19.
  21. ^ "Object Hi no Tori (Phoenix)". 京都国際マンガミュージアム. Retrieved 2022-10-18.
  22. ^ "The Osamu Tezuka Manga Museum - Hyogo". JapanTravel. Retrieved 2022-10-18.
  23. ^ "LOVEBITES 激ロック インタビュー". Geki-Rock (in Japanese). 2018-12-06. Retrieved 2018-12-21.
  24. ^ "浅井健一、ドレスコーズ、森山直太朗ら10組参加「火の鳥」コンピの収録曲発表". Natalie (in Japanese). 2019-10-04. Retrieved 2019-10-04.

External links[edit]