Readers of this column will be familiar with this writer’s fondness for the late Osamu Tezuka, the godfather of manga, whose works Vertical has been reissuing in English for the past few years. I have just finished reading his mammoth two-volume Message to Adolf, and am experiencing a bit of déjà vu. Is this the best Tezuka I have read, I ask myself, repeating a question I invariably try to answer after every book of his I read. Given the sheer range (and volume) of the man’s work, that’s an impossible question to answer—although it is always a pleasant experience to run one’s mind over his works, from Buddha, to Ode to Kirihito, to the Black Jack chronicles.

Message to Adolf, published in 2012 (the second volume came out in late December), is the story of three Adolfs. Adolf Kamil, a German Jew living in Germany, his friend Adolf Kaufmann, part German, part Japanese, and a Nazi, and Adolf Hitler. Moving across Japan and Germany, it deals with Hitler’s rumoured Jewish ancestry, documentary evidence of this, the Jew Adolf’s efforts to publicize these, and the Nazi Kaufmann’s dilemma as he tries to balance his friendship with Kamil and love for a Jewish girl he helps escape to Japan, and his loyalty to Hitler and the Nazi ideology.

Part historical novel, part love story, and part thriller, I found the book engaging enough to travel with the second volume, something I rarely do, given the sheer size of Tezuka’s works. Volume II is 608 pages, and weighs a little less than a kilogram.

R. Sukumar is editor, Mint.

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