By Kanta Ishida / Yomiuri Shimbun Senior WriterThe manga this week
By Cozy Jokura (Shogakukan)
According to philosopher Kiyoshi Miki, “love and jealousy have many things in common.”
“Chaser” is set in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The protagonist, Koichi Kaitoku, is a self-proclaimed survivor of the kamikaze suicide corps and a popular war manga author. There is another manga author, however, named Osamu Tezuka, toward whom Kaitoku feels a strong rivalry. Kaitoku doesn’t want to lose out to Tezuka, who is the same age but creates several times more manga series and has even started a project to produce a manga film. Kaitoku carefully studies Tezuka’s daily life and drawing style and begins imitating him. But the harder he chases him, the more painfully he comes to recognize the “enigmatic genius” of Tezuka.
There are numerous manga and biographies depicting Tezuka — who of course was Japan’s real-life “God of Manga” — but the method used in “Chaser” is astounding. Tezuka actually seldom appears; instead, the author attempts to get close to the essence of his genius by depicting the comically one-sided struggle of the obsessively jealous Kaitoku.
The author, Cozy Jokura, is known for writing the story for the manga “Gura-Zeni” under the name Yuji Moritaka. It depicts the world of professional baseball players and how they are affected by their income in a brutally honest way. Such a twisted and almost treacherous flavor represents Jokura’s distinct critical style.
I applaud Jokura for depicting Kaitoku as a war manga author — a now extinct genre. A little over a decade after the end of World War II, manga featuring the brave Zero fighters were still very popular with boys. In a way, Kaitoku is a species destined for extinction, a man dragging the war along, whereas Tezuka represents the new generation that is driving the old generation away with their new, postwar manga.
Tezuka, however, is eventually overtaken by what he created himself. Even the genius is destined to become jealous of someone else and turn into a “chaser.” Who is the real winner? We must keep chasing Kaitoku to find it out.