The Crater is an anthology of short stories written by Osamu Tezuka in the 60s and 70s. They explore themes of war, death, racism, love, science and the supernatural. A few times Tezuka himself even becomes a character in the stories. These tales show the power of his imagination.
The first story, “The Bell Rings,” is about how haunting the sound of a bell can be when it has other meanings.
“The Man Who Melted” is about war and chemical weapons, though instead of being simply a scientific story, it delves into the supernatural.
“The Snowman” is about a supernatural, murderous truck (not Truck-kun).
“The Purple Bems” is about brothers and aliens.
“Sacrifice” is about a woman who escapes from being a human sacrifice . . . but only for a while.
“The Two-Headed Snake” deals with racism in America. Told from a Japanese perspective that might not understand all the finer details of racism in America, it nevertheless pushes against racist people.
“Okuchin’s Strange Experience” has a boy possessed by the spirit of a dead girl.
“Good Fortune” has a boy get more than he bargained for when he’s jealous of another boy.
“Bag Containing the Future” shows a boy who doesn’t believe he has a bright future trying to steal the futures of others.
In “Two Dramas,” a boy is hit by a truck and wakes up in another world, but it’s not clear what is real and what isn’t.
“The Mask of Tomoe” has Tezuka himself as a character in a story about a haunted mask.
“The Three Invaders” shows aliens trying to get more information about earth. Tezuka is a character in this one as well.
“The Octagonal House” is an especially strong story about a man who can’t decide what to do with his future. No matter what path he takes, he’s in for more than he bargained for.
“Car Racer” follows a car racer obsessed with a mannequin he treats like a real woman.
“The Riddle of Brunnel” shows a nymph living in the human world.
“Sergeant Okuno” reveals how a man becomes a war hero, but the story believed about him is a myth.
“The Jumbo” is like Snakes on a Plane, only this time it’s a giant venomous spider.
“The Man on the Crater” is a haunting science fiction story about life, death and war.
An introduction titled “The Crater” from Frederik L. Schodt and an afterword essay titled “The Cruelty of the Crater” by Ada Palmer give extra and fascinating perspectives on Tezuka and his work. Some stories are stronger than others, and this is another great book for fans of Osamu Tezuka.
Story & Art: Osamu Tezuka
Translator: Nate Heneghan, Grady Martin
Publisher: Digital Manga Publishing
Danica Davidson is the author of the bestselling Manga Art for Beginners with artist Melanie Westin. She is also the author of its upcoming sequel, Manga Art for Everyone, and the first-of-its-kind manga chalk book Chalk Art Manga, both illustrated by professional Japanese mangaka Rena Saiya. Check out her other comics and books at www.danicadavidson.com.