I’ve been reading a lot of Osamu Tezuka’s manga lately. “God Of Manga,” the Japanese call him, and that seems appropriate to me because the strength of his work is the scale of it: Both the sheer number of pages, and the diversity of the projects he devoted his time to, and how his work, on a writing level, tends to succeed owing more to its scope than to any real ability to write characters. In Phoenix or Apollo’s Song we see characters reincarnate, in Tezuka’s “star system” characters are reused. These are cartoon figures, not literary figures: There are cute innocent children (easily viewed as annoying) and stoic badasses. These are figures simplified enough to be viewed in full as they move across the page, simplified figures that do not need wide shots to position them in space. Plots are a series of setpieces, a procession of events, one after another. Tonal consistency is largely abandoned to move from mood to mood as fancy strikes. The sheer vastness of Tezuka is what makes him so disinterested in subtlety or nuance. He entertains via awe at his weird daring. It’s something that succeeds as populism, even as it provokes the need for gekiga to arise as an artistic response, and it persists after Tezuka’s embrace of gekiga techniques.