Phoenix (火の鳥) is a manga series by Osamu Tezuka that ran from 1967 to 1988, and is considered by the man himself to be his greatest work.The series is focused on the Phoenix, a cosmic entity that looks like a peacock and whose blood grants immortality towards whoever drinks it.The volumes take place either far in The Future or in Feudal Japan. As the series progress, the timelines grow closer. Typically, the story contains much more humor in the feudal Japan stories while the science-fiction stories are more dramatic.The VIZ edition has edited the following volumes:
7- Civil War (Part One)
8- Civil War (Part Two)
9- Strange Beings/Life
10- Sun (Part One)
11- Sun (Part Two)
12- Early Works
There have been two OAV, two animated movies, a live-action movie and a tv series.Not to be confused with Phoenix Wright, the french band Phoenix, the (unrelated to each other) coin-op videogames Phoenix or Space Firebirds, The NinetiesAustralian police mini-series, the Phoenix air-to-air missile, or Phoenix, Arizona.See The Phoenix for the mythological creature Phoenix.Tropes in this manga series include:
Anachronism Stew: As in his other works, Tezuka works in a lot of quick and mostly insignificant gags involving absurd anachronisms.
Author Existence Failure: Tezuka intended to close the series with an arc that took place in the present and somehow tied all the series' motifs together. However, he died well before reaching that point, leaving behind only the synopsis for a storyline, Earth, which was to take place in Japanese-occupied Shanghai, 1938.
Black and Gray Morality: Mostly grays, but you're more likely to find a totally evil character than a perfectly good character. Gao, for instance, is one of the more purely good protagonists... if not for his start as an indiscriminate thief and mass murderer. It is notable that killing seems to be considered acceptable if one does it to survive, as it is no different than hunting (one of the themes, especially in Gao's book Karma, is that all life is equal).
Canon Immigrant: Robita the robot reappears in the 2003 Astro Boy animated series, recolored yellow, becoming a Robot Maid to Astro's family. He/she is not part of Tezuka's Star System, though.
Cloning Blues: In Life, clones are made so they can be hunted and killed for a gameshow.
De Mythification: Most of the historical chapters (immortal bird goddess aside), apart from Sun (though the past bits of that may or may not have been hallucinated by a guy living in 2008). Sun also retroactively inverts this for Strange Beings. The earlier story had implied that the monsters Yaobikuni treats are aliens but Sun features actually Youkais going to her after being wounded in battle against Indian Boddhisatvas.
Disproportionate Retribution: In Strange Beings, Akon no Suke and her completely innocentretainer are sentenced to several decades of imprisonment in an inescapable mountain temple adrift in time and space, caring for sick and injured humans and monsters for killing an elderly nun who... wait for it... is the future version of the Samurai after spending decades of imprisonment for killing her older self, essentially commiting suicide. Furthering the Moral Dissonance is that her younger self did so to avoid her future nun-self from saving the life of her Evil Overlord father so he would cease his warring and murdering. So basically the Warped Aesop is suicide is wrong, even if it saves countless lives, and decades of forced penance is not necessarily enough to balance your karma. The icing on this cake is that she came to realize her younger self would come and kill her, and was powerless to stop her.
It's not so warped if you consider that the Yaobikuni was a healer, and she was willing to kill her - even though the Yaobikuni had saved many lives and would no doubt have gone on to save many more - in order to ensure that her father would die. She did the equivalent of blowing up a hospital to kill a single petty tyrant. So no, it's not disproportionate at all.
Other characters performed their fair share of atrocities, yet Akon no Suke is the only one we know of who is forced to live through something on the the level of the loop of coming to the temple, killing herself, becoming the healer, realizing the truth, and wait to be killed by her past self. The situation does indeed come off as being a tract against suicide that ended up being Disproportionate Retribution.
This also occurs with Saruta, where it's implied that everyone bad that happens to Saruta and his incarnations is because of Karma (which flows in both directions, past and future incarnations affect the present incarnation.) What was Saruta's horrendous crime? When confronting the Phoenix in "Space", he willingly and with malice aforethought... kills a plant.
Well, a plant that used to be human. It's... complicated. There was also the time he killed almost everybody in Nagi's village. And the time he was a bandit and killed a bunch of people.
Everything's Messier with Pigs: With a potion made from pig's excrement, you can turn a whole alien race even more corrupt than the humans! This happens in the end of Nostalgia.
A God Am I: Subverted with Masato in Universe, who is forced to become the god of the new world, against his will.
Interspecies Romance: Between a cyborg and a robot, an alien bird-woman and a human, a human and a wolf spirit.
Laser-Guided Karma: In the fittingly named Karma, Smug Snake Akanemaru is killed in a fire just after exposing Gao's past, which led to Gao's remaining arm being chopped off. The kicker is that Akanemaru will never again be reborn as a human.
Magic A Is Magic A: The Phoenix's blood seems to work differently each time it is used on a character. Drinking it is meant to make the subject immortal, but Masato in Universestill grows old until his body is destroyed but his mind lives on and Nakamura in Spacegrows younger until he is a baby and then grows old again and so on.
Mayincatec: In Life, the Incas in Peru have come in contact with the Phenix.
No Koreans In Japan: Subverted, as Nerima, the hero of the Sun arc is a Korean prince escaping from the just-fallen kingdom of Baekje.
Perspective Reversal: Karma, the artisan Akanemaru, first meets Gao as a fugitive and offers him his fire; Gao, disfigured from birth, rewards Akanemaru for his kindness by maiming him out of spite. By the end of the story, Gao has redeemed himself and become a master artisan in his own right, while Akanemaru has let his success get to his head and become a cold, heartless bastard: when Gao bests him in a competition, Akanemaru reveals Gao's sordid past, resulting in him losing his one good arm.
Scenery Porn: This being Osamu Tezuka, there are tons of splash pages devoted to showing off gorgeously rendered landscapes and architecture. Note that his humans are always simple and cartoony despite backgrounds that range from simplified props to photorealistic environments.
Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Although the interplay of events from previous and future volumes give it purpose, when taken on its own Yamato is a good example of this.
Smug Snake: Karma follows Akanemaru's transformation into one even though he starts out as a nice guy.
Society Is to Blame: Gao in Karma says "Society made me who I am!" about why he had become a nihilistic mass murderer. The priest he says this to partially agrees, saying that reincarnation and karma are what put him in those circumstances to begin with.
Starfish Aliens: Some extra-terrestrial life forms are quite weird, such as living stones, trees with mammaries and spider-plants.
Sweet Polly Oliver: Kajika dresses as a boy to be employed as a worker in Yamato and get close to Oguna.
Tin Man: Robot Chihiro in Nostalgia says that it has "no heart" and does not feel any emotions. Despite this, it helps the protagonists accomplish their missions and Com asks Roomi how could a supposedly heartless robot be so kind to them while most the humans they have met were mean.
What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: Masato in Universe is very displeased that the new leading animals in the future are slugs, and has little sympathy for the last living one as it struggles for survival.
Though this lack of sympathy probably has more to do with the fact that those damn stupid slugs went and wiped themselves out by having a world war.
What Measure Is a Non-Human?: In Life, a TV producer decides that in order for human clones to be hunted and killed without remorse, they'd have to have a misshapen anatomy to not be considered human anymore.