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Manga / Buddha

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Buddha is a manga by Osamu Tezuka. It is an eight-volume, highly embellished account of Siddhartha Gautama/Buddha's life, incorporating many fantasy elements and re-interpreting several legends about Buddha's life.

Some of the other major characters include Devadatta, who was Raised by Wolves, Tatta, who was born with the power to transfer his mind into animals, Migaila, a former bandit turned good, Yatala, a Gentle Giant (only once you get to know him), and Ananda, Devadatta's half brother, another bandit-turned good.


This manga provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: Buddha chooses two monks as his successors, and they both die before he does. A case of Real Life Writes the Plot, since this is true to historical accounts.
  • Addled Addict: Visakha. And Devadatta slips an addictive potion into King Bimbisara's drink so he would have withdrawal symptoms and appear too crazy to rule.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Ahimsa dies just as he learns to forgive monks.
    • Also Devadatta, despite being the opposite: he dies while still being unable to forgive Buddha and his disciples.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Possibly the reason Lata is attracted to Ananda.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: In Book Two, Bandaka wants to marry Yashodara, who wants to marry Siddhartha, who is in love with Migaila, who loves him back but at some point gives up on him and marries Tatta.
  • Anachronism Stew: "Where did you find that [radio], you anachronist!?"
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  • And Now You Must Marry Me: Pretty much the first thing Bandaka does when he becomes King of the Shakya is burst into Yashodara's room and order her to be his queen (see Jerkass below).
  • Anyone Can Die: As the Tear Jerker page can attest. Siddhartha points out early on that regardless of caste, "We all must die one day!"
  • Asleep, Not Meditating: Asaji draws eyes on the top of his bald head to make it look like he's not sleeping when he's supposed to be meditating.
  • Attempted Rape: Ananda foils Lata's attacker.
    • In an inversion, a jealous Brahmin sends a lady to pretend to be Buddha's lover and accuse him of womanizing.
    • Buddha is again the victim of this trope when the drug-addled Visahka keeps trying to have sex with him.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: After Migaila has to forcibly stop Tatta from becoming a Disappeared Dad in Book Three, he shows his devotion to her when she gets sick in Book Four and loses her voice in Book Five.
  • Bald of Evil: Devadatta, despite being a disciple of Buddha initially.
  • Bald Woman: Lata, on taking vows to Buddha.
  • Beautiful Slave Girl: Perhaps to drive home that slavery is bad, we have Lata, Yudelka, and Prince Virudhaka's mother.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Discussed. In Buddha's story about an ox named Sebu, a beggar is almost lynched simply because "Ugly guys tend to be villains."
    • Subverted with the woman Devadatta is sent to murder, who assures him safety if he tells her who sent him and then orders her guards to kill him "of course."
    • Also subverted in Book One with Malikka, who turns her back on Chapra once he is revealed to be a slave and sentenced to execution.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted. Migaila remains blinded for the rest of the series after her eyes are burned out. And when Siddhartha encounters Visakha again, she's so changed that he isn't sure it's her at first.
  • Betty and Veronica: In the second book, Princess Yashodara is the demure Betty who Siddhartha's father wants him to marry, while Migaila is a sexy spitfire Veronica who Siddhartha can't stop thinking about.
  • Blindfold Of Power: Migaila
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Tezuka makes several appearances, even apologizing for it.
  • Chastity Couple: Ananda and Lata are still in love when they become disciples of Buddha but they can't act on it.
  • Chick Magnet: Buddha himself, much to his dismay.
  • Creator Cameo: See Breaking The Fourth Wall above, and Who Writes This Crap below.
  • Cute Mute: Lata In the beginning.
  • Damsel in Distress: Ananda has to rescue Lata and Tatta has to rescue Migaila a few times. Ironically, despite being the princess, Yashodara only needs Siddhartha to rescue her once – she ultimately fends of Bandaka on her own.
  • Death by Childbirth: Maya, Buddha's mother.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Chapra, who is the focus in the beginning and doesn't live past the first volume.
  • Deconstruction: The series takes a look at how Buddha left his life as a prince to become a ascetic, with it showing how while what he did was apparently necessary, he still left his father and stepmother, his wife, his unborn child, and his kingdom behind, which his father did not take well because there are personal and political consequences for a prince abandoning his royal duties.
  • Demoted to Extra: Dhepa goes from being a significant character in Books Two through Five to having no influence on the main plot and only appearing when Buddha's disciples are gathered.
  • Disney Death: A doctor declares Sujata dead from a snake bite, but Siddhartha enters her soul and brings her back to life.
    • Subverted in Book Seven, when the same thing happens to Lata, we see Buddha try to enter her soul to no avail.
  • Distress Ball: Yashodara offers to give Bandaka – who she hates, who's unscrupulous, who's made it clear he intends to have her – anything he wants if he manages to bring Siddhartha down from a tower he's been meditating on. It's not long before Bandaka attempts to take her up on that promise.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: A conversation between Tatta and Yatala ("You're the first guy I've met who gets who I feel." "My thoughts never understood. I talk to you. I feel you understand.") reads like a Coming-Out Story.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: Lata gets angry and then runs off crying when Ananda jokes about her being mute (it's hinted that her master crushed her throat when she was a slave, so maybe he touches on some trauma).
  • Empty Eyes: Lampshaded with Bandaka ("[Bandaka's] so nasty." "And where are his pupils anyway?").
  • Eye Scream: Migaila has both her eyes burnt out and Dhepa does the same to one of his own.
  • Fan Disservice: Lampshaded. Bimbisara's wife coats her body with honey so her starving husband can lick it off her. As two palace guards sob over how sad this is, one of them orders the reader, "Don't think dirty thoughts while reading this!"
  • Friend to All Living Things: Naradatta. Tatta is one as a child and Siddhartha becomes one.
  • Gonk: One shows up once in a while. There are even gonk elephants!
  • Good Stepmother: Siddhartha's stepmother, Pajapati, is a nice woman, although Siddhartha's father calls him out on not really loving her.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Yudelka
  • Hand Gagging: Tatta to Migaila, to stop her Big "WHAT?!" when she hears that Siddhartha is about to meet his betrothed.
    • Ananda to Lata, when he's trying to find where Buddha's being held hostage.
  • Heel–Faith Turn: Buddha has a way of bringing out the best in people, including Migaila, Dhepa, Ananda, Visakha, and Ajatasattu.
    • ...but it doesn't always stick, and there are several characters who pledge themselves to Buddha but then commit terrible acts, including Tatta, Virudhaka, and Devadatta.
    • ...and a case of Heel–Face Door-Slam with Ahimsa.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: The very first occurrence of the manga. The reasons for one doing this kickstart enlightenment.
  • Hot Consort: Siddhartha's father sets him up with one (Yashodara) in the hopes that it will keep him from abandoning the royal lifestyle.
  • Humans Are Cthulhu: When sentient animals appear, such as wolves or deer, expect them to assert that animals are nobler than humans since (1) animals kill for survival and never for sport or spite, (2) humans are greedy while animals are often self-sacrificing, and (3) humans fear death while animals are at peace with the natural order of things.
  • Identity Amnesia: Visakha, when in the throes of addiction.
  • Idiot Ball: Migaila's plot to be with Siddhartha makes no sense. Even if she did win the tournament and revealed herself to Yashodara, it's unlikely that Yashodara would just "give up" and more likely that the princess would call for her guards to arrest the imposter. It would've been far simpler for Siddhartha and Migaila to just run away together that night. The fact that Migaila does come very close to winning the tournament is what saves this from being a full-on What an Idiot! moment. Lampshaded by Siddhartha saying "What a reckless plan," but he goes along with it anyway. Justified by them being young and in love.
  • Intimate Healing: Mouth-to-mouth transfers of medicine and water, as well as kissing someone all over their body to suck poison out.
  • Jerkass: Bandaka is awful. Greedy, arrogant, rude, spiteful, Jerkass Bandaka. Princess Yashodara even says to herself, "If [I have to marry Bandaka], I'll kill myself." Years later, when she does, she threatens to.
  • Kissing Cousins / Royal Inbreeding: Princess Yashodara is the daughter of Siddhartha's father's sister.
  • The Lancer: What Ananda is to Buddha. In Book Seven, Buddha has been enlightened for a while, while Ananda is an ex-bandit who still struggles with his literal and figurative demons, but Buddha still comes to depend on him.
  • Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: When Ananda and Ahimsa get in a fist fight after Ananda's arm has been injured, Ahimsa agrees to only use one arm too to keep the fight fair. This tips Ananda off that Ahimsa was once a warrior.
  • The Load: Asaji in Book Three. Siddhartha and Dhepa have no interest in letting him tag along at first, and they even have to carry him when he gets wounded. Subverted in Book Four, when he becomes key to Siddhartha's enlightenment.
  • Mal Mariée: Ahimsa recounts that his problems began when his an old Brahmin tutor's young wife tried to seduce him, and then claimed he insulted her, so the Brahmin put a curse on him.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: In Ananda, Buddha is challenged to burn a stack of logs without touching them. As he refuses to, not wanting to show off, Ananda comes running up with a torch: Buddha's follower burned them. So Buddha passes the trial - and then everything goes up in flames. Nice job burning it, Ananda.
  • Noble Bigot: A few characters are very racist/caste-ist due to India's caste system, but they're not all evil.
    • Not that it excuses comments like, "We oughta crush her under the elephant's foot!" "Now, now. She's just a stupid slave, hardly better than a beast." It just explains them.
  • Not Allowed to Grow Old: Averted with the exception of Tatta, who looks about the same from Book Four to Book Eight, even as the other characters visibly age (especially Buddha, who's several years younger).
  • Not-So-Final Confession: Ananda, thinking he's going to die by quicksand, tells Lata he loves her.
  • Offscreen Romance: The next time we see Migaila after she's been blinded and banished, she's married to Tatta.
  • Outlaw Couple: Tatta and Migaila, before Tatta agrees to abandon that life.
  • Plot Parallel: All books have multiple threads, but Book Eight in particular has two storylines about princes (three if you count Buddha) and their aging fathers.
  • Purely Aesthetic Era: The characters make anachronistic references for humor.
  • Reused Character Design: It's Tezuka, what do you expect? Look for Tezuka himself, Shunsaku Ban as a bounty hunter, Hosuke Sharaku, Saruta, and a cameo by Professor Ochanomizu.
  • Rich Bitch: Visakha at times. Justified by the trauma she experienced when a plague wiped out hundreds of people in her town, including both of her parents.
  • Same-Sex Triplets: Migaila and Tatta's sons.
  • Say My Name: Two quite similar examples. The first thing Migaila says when Buddha helps her regain her voice is "TATTA!" And Lata's first word is "ANANDA!"
  • Senseless Sacrifice: Chapra attempts to protect his mother from a spear attack with his own body, which only results in both of them being run through together.
  • Serial Killer: Ahimsa. First of the Visionary kind, since he was hypnotized by a monk to kill random people and collect their pinkies. Then of the Mission-Based variety, since he vows to kill all monks.
  • She Is All Grown Up: Sujata, who is a little Genki Girl when Siddhartha first meets her and blossoms into a young woman.
  • Shout-Out: The numerous, humorous anachronisms include Yoda, ET, and a character turning into Black Jack for a panel. Lampshaded with, "You thought I was Black Jack? Wow, you must be really out of it!"
  • Significant Haircut: Siddhartha cuts off his hair when he leaves the royal life behind. Later, characters shave their heads when they become disciples of Buddha.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: Yashodara is described as a "perfect young lady," but she has a knife ready for when Bandaka comes calling.
  • Sissy Villain: Devadatta. As a child he's able to pass as a pretty girl, and as an adult he's still drawn with long eyelashes. There's that moment he openly flirts with Buddha, who he later tries to kill by painting his nails with poison.
  • Slave Brand: Chapra has one on the bottom of his foot, Lata on her arm.
  • Slave Liberation: Buddha convinces Virudhaka to free the Shakya from slavery.
  • Slipping a Mickey: Visakha, having fallen in love with Siddhartha, sneaks a sedative into his drink in order to kidnap him.
  • Speech-Impeded Love Interest: Lata even after Buddha heals her.
  • The Speechless: Lata. Migaila for a bit.
  • Spoiled Sweet: Sujata is the pretty daughter of a village chief, but she's friendly and even saves Siddhartha from starvation.
    • Malikka, the vizier's dazzling daughter, who when he warns her that she'll have to be a slave if she marries Chapra replies, "Sounds like fun!" Subverted in that she later passes on the chance to save Chapra and his mother.
  • Start of Darkness: We see Devadatta's backstory in Book Three, which is basically a Trauma Conga Line instilling in him a belief that only the strongest prevail. Although, given that his father's Bandaka, perhaps he was already wired to think that way.
  • Suck Out the Poison: Ananda does this after Lata is bitten by a snake.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Played straight. Migaila disguises herself as a soldier from Maghada to prevent Siddhartha from marrying Yashodara. (Incidentally, a character with Migaila's design would briefly disguise herself as a male soldier in a different Tezuka manga.)
  • The Three Faces of Adam: On the books' spines (pictured above), we see Siddhartha as a young monk in training (The Hunter), newly enlightened Buddha (The Lord), and elderly Buddha (The Prophet).
  • Tragic Villain: General Budai whose efforts to protect his adopted son through ordering to have a person killed end up giving him the exact opposite results of what he wanted.
    • King Prasenajit and his son Prince Virudhaka are also villains who are still victims of the caste system. Virudhaka feels compelled to treat his own mother as a slave when he finds out she's not of royal birth and condemns her to death to stop the spread of the black plague. Both father and son privately mourn her death.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: The boorish King Prasenajit receives a lovely bride from Kapilavastu.
  • Unwilling Suspension: Pampas does this to Lata when he's using her as The Bait to catch Ananda.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Defied with Siddhartha, who is sheltered but intelligent and has no taste for the decadent royal lifestyle.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: In Book Seven, no less than Brahman calls Buddha out on not doing enough to spread his teachings and lessen people's suffering.
  • When She Smiles: What makes Ajatasattu even more smitten with Yudelka.
  • Who Writes This Crap?!: After a particularly silly bit of slapstick involving Buddha getting hit by a large stick, Tezuka pops up to declare this to be "not a serious story" in a fairly angry fashion.
  • Wicked Stepfather: Devadatta's stepfather is abusive to him, and even offers to sacrifice his wife and biological son (Ananda) to save his own life.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: The only good thing Ahimsa can say for himself is that one time he spared a baby's life.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Much to Asaji, Buddha, and Bimbisara's dismay.
  • Younger Than They Look: A near-fatal arrow wound, and his already bad health, ages Buddha rapidly, so he looks like "a man in his fifties, or even sixties" when he's younger than that.
  • You Watch Too Much X: When Yashodara describes her darkly foreboding nightmares, her lady-in-waiting brushes it off with "You've been watching too many sci-fi and horror movies" (see Anachronism Stew and Purely Aesthetic Era above).


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