For fans of the ever prolific “God of Manga” Osamu Tezuka, we can thank our lucky stars for publishers like Vertical/Viz/Dark Horse for providing stellar translations and compilations of such momentous works like BUDDHA, BLACK JACK, and the recent MESSAGE TO ADOLF. It’s without a doubt a great time to be an English reader of Tezuka’s work and have so many of his stories easily accessible to our eager fingertips. That said, there still remains a large number of his creations that have yet to be released stateside, and that’s where the newest endeavor from the freshly formed KANSAI CLUB comes in. Set for release at this July’s Supercon in Miami, Florida, KANSAI CLUB has recently begun fundraising for a limited edition translation of THE CRATER, compiling all 17 short stories into a single volume.
First serialized in Weekly Shonen Champion from August 1969 to April 1970, Tezuka envisioned THE CRATER as an exploration of the human mind through 17 independent, self-contained tales. True to form, Tezuka uses each vignette in a Twilight Zone-esque structure to explore morality with the recurring protagonist Ryuichi Kuma. Appearing as a different person with varying backstories in each story, Ryuichi repeatedly is faced with the conflict of fate, alternate universes, as well as the familiar Tezuka-themes of reincarnation and immortality. Tezuka brilliantly layers every story with a range of tone, ranging from horror to mystery to science fiction, and often diving into historical and sociological topics facing real people at that time. Ryuichi serves as the narrative guide of THE CRATER’s often bizarre and strange tales, a focal point in examining what happens when ordinary people are faced with extraordinary circumstances.
Kansai Club Publishing is quite ambitious in their freshman release. Taking over 6 months to finalize THE CRATER’s English edition with Tezuka Productions, Kansai Club is only going to print 2000 copies of THE CRATER in a large high quality hardcover format. Each book will aditionally come with 3 different prints inspired from the work, along with a noted introduction from manga academic Dr. Ada Palmer and an introduction from the author of The Astro Boys Essays: Osamu Tezuka, Mighty Atom, and the Manga/Anime Revolution, Frederik Schodt.
The included prints:
Indeed a labor of love, Kansai Club formed just last year and is helmed by only two people, aimed at importing and translating Japanese literature and manga specifically from the 1940s to 1970s. The publishing of THE CRATER will be entirely an independent release, refusing the traditional channels of comic book retail outlets and other book shops, including Amazon. The KICKSTARTER has already met it’s goal of $3500 yet is still worth taking a look at and donating towards, not only to get a copy of this super limited release but also to help launch what could be a fantastic outlet for future manga publishing.