I've just finished volume 2 of Osamu Tezuka. I'm surprised that a fictionalized story of the rise of one of the world's LEAST offensive religions is so gripping, but the drama and humor, combined with the quirky translation and art that is sometimes fluid and sensual and other times breathtakingly detailed, make for a truly unique work. I have not seen anything like this in any form.
I have to admit I was a bit put off by Osamu Tezuka's art style, which to me fudged too many important traits that help ground a character as at least resembling human. The bendy limbs and flexible faces bugged me. But I think this was my fault for not actually paying attention to the stories his characters were attached to. I'll probably always be drawn to the more realistically drawn figures I think, but as you read you see such personality and vibrancy attached to simple, random characters that it feels as though the tone of the work could not have been achieved any other way.
While it follows Siddhartha Gautama's life and times, there are many fictional characters that help give the work depth and humanity that a simple retelling of the facts and myths fall flat or feel like propaganda. There are genuine philosophical stances taken in the book, but they don't feel one-sided. You see people in the book suffering under the vagaries of their own social system, and you find yourself rooting for Siddhartha's enlightenment so he can help ease these people's suffering.
This is a letter, I guess, to people who, like me, might discount the work because of the art style, or the subject matter. I just happened to check this out at my library and was just floored by how well it was done.
This snippet is regarding the mid 2000's English language release, which uses some modern references that are obviously not possible given the time frame of the story. Too many of these would be jarring, but there are just the right amount of references to modern technology or sensibilities to add funny punctuation to what is generally a solidly period-based story.