“What luck for rulers that men do not think.” – Adolf Hitler.
Osamu Tezuka may be better known for his children’s work, especially Astro Boy, but this thrilling historical drama shows that he was equally able to create enthralling works for adults too.
Message to Adolf is told by a Japanese journalist, Sohei Toge, who begins the story with the 1936 Berlin Olympics, but he is in fact a secondary character. The story is about three people called Adolf. The first is Adolf Hitler; the second is Adolf Kamil, a German-born Jewish boy who is the son of baker and now living in the Japanese coastal city of Kobe; and the third is Adolf Kaufmann, the young son of the German consul in Kobe. The two Adolf boys are friends, but things are made difficult by the parents.
The story is trigged when Toge’s brother, a student in Germany, is killed. He later discovers the cause is one that could shock the world. His brother had proof that Hitler is actually of Jewish ancestry. Toge tries to track down the documents and his brother’s killer. Later on, we see how the role of the boys become entwined with his when they discover the secret of the Fuhrer and try to figure out how to deal with it.
The art in the book is engrossing. The way Tezuka portrays Hitler is most interesting. His monstrousness seems to take over at various points. During a speech that he makes at the 1936 Nuremberg Rally, Hitler’s mouth and body almost seem to deform as he rants like an insane madman (p. 75).
Concerning the boys, in this first volume it is Kaufmann who has the most impact, with Kamil’s role becoming more important in the last few chapters. In the early chapters he discovers that his father wants him to go to the Adolf Hitler School where the Hitler Youth are trained. He resists as much as he possibly can, but when he is forcefully dragged into it, he eventually begins to enjoy it. This results in a dramatic conclusion to the end of this volume.
The main problems with this manga, other than what may seem controversial subject matter to some readers, are technical. The back of this hardback volume says, “it is our intention to present the original material faithfully.” If this is the case, why have they printed the manga reading left-to-right as in older releases of the book, and not printed it in the original and faithful right-to-left?
But other than these minor issues, Message to Adolf is a compulsive read. It is a real page-turner that makes you want to hunt down the next volume as quickly as you can.