Story and art by Osamu Tezuka
Original Publisher: Fuji Shbou (1948)
Length: 2 Volumes (19 Chapters)
Osamu Tezuka is without a doubt the most influential creator in the medium of manga. Not only did he lay the groundwork for what the medium could do, he spent the remainder of his career challenging every boundary his early works created. Tezuka’s “Lost World” is a historical artefact in the world of manga, and at its time would have been a pioneering piece in the medium. Unfortunately, its strengths lie only on a surface level, and its lack of substance prevents it from contemporary glory.
Lost World is not an exciting manga to read. In one sense, its quality isn’t necessarily what’s important. What it does is play a pioneering role in the early conception of manga. It was sent into the world to discover new techniques, new structures that the medium could use to create effective storytelling. Once this manga was completed, Tezuka’s other works could build-off the experiences he had with Lost World to improve himself and the medium. While this is the weakest work I’ve read of Tezuka, it would be unfair to roast it without giving it the credit it deserves. There are some manga that I enjoyed just as little as this one, yet they had thousands of stories and best-sellers to go off of.
The story of Lost World revolves around the fictitious Planet known as Mamango, which was once attached to planet Earth. Every five-million years the planet re-approaches Earth. A stone from the planet Mamango is held by a young boy named Shikishima Kenishi, and may be the key to the murder of a famous scientist. Along with private Detective Ben Shunasaku and a gang of lab-creations, the team flies to Mamango in the hopes of solving this mystery. One of Tezuka’s many traits that I admire is his ambition. Even in a two volume series, he can’t help but create an expansive universe, one which possesses many characters that will become recurring in Tezuka’s works. This is a smart move, as it allows him to create different stories, but rely on preconceived characters for reader familiarity. It also give Tezuka a chance to actually develop his characters, because unfortunately not much of that is done in this manga. It is very much a manga where story and art are prioritised of characterisation and writing. In some instances, this ratio can turn into an epic, but all it did for Lost World was turn it into an inconsistent piece.
Reading this manga was the first time the phrase “show don’t tell” became so real to me. The first scene is literally a person being shot, and text saying “a tragedy one evening!” There never feels like there’s any finesse, any non-plot related dialogue. The characters are given set characteristics from when they’re first introduced, and that’s all the reader is given. That is, until a plot point needs filling, and then they’ll abruptly announce something about themselves to make the story progress. It was just so… forced. So rushed. It’s incredible that Tezuka was able to create over 900 volumes of manga in his life, but his subconscious hurrying is evident in this piece. Everyone’s in a rush, though I don’t think they even know why. Not only that, the story that Tezuka creates isn’t even that compelling. It’s a very barebones scifi-adventure that doesn’t flesh out its own uniqueness. If anything, it’s a testament to where Tezuka will go and how much he’ll improve, but as a standalone piece, this manga seems more like a template then its own series.
The art in this manga was definitely the strongest component. Tezuka’s simplistic style allows for consistent character portrayal and fluid movements. Even though the style may be considered “vintage”, it isn’t one that necessarily dates, and if anything becomes a refreshing change from the similarities of contemporary manga. Overall, Lost World was an interesting piece to read – I enjoyed learning a bit more about Tezuka and his early creations in the manga medium. I also enjoyed some of the worlds he created through his art. But most elements of this manga are unsubstantial. They feel like a bunch of ideas that were never properly fleshed out. A child may see it as good, clean fun, but this was definitely a piece establishing a formula as opposed to challenging it.
Art – 7
Story – 4
Writing – 3
Overall – 5/10