Message to Adolf Part 2

Message to Adolf Part 2 CoverWhere the first part of Message to Adolf sets the stage for the story, in this second part, the stage is mostly ruined. Criticisms that were expressed in the review of the first part of the story (that the story is a bit loose and contains ephemeral connections that feel forced) persist and are stressed to the point where the entire narrative breaks and the reader is left wondering why. As in the first part the art remains excellent, and Osamu Tezuka tackles forests, faces, ice shelfs, and walruses with equal aplomb and joy.

The beginning of Part 2 finds us primarily with Adolf Kauffman in Germany as he rises through the ranks of the Hitler Youth, to eventually find himself working for the Führer himself. Then the narrative touches on Adolf Kamil as he is living with his mother in wartime Japan. Then it introduces a communist spying plot centered around one completely new character and one character that is the son of a previously introduced character. Next Sohei Toge is reintroduced. As expected these disparate threads became entangled and the characters are periodically drawn together.

Unfortunately the in-between parts suffer. For example, many pages are spent detailing exactly how Adolf Kauffman gets back from late wartime Germany to Japan. It involves U-Boats, the Arctic, guilt, and nervous breakdowns. It is largely irrelevant and ponderous to the overall plot. It is, however, an opportunity for Tezuka to stretch his fingers and create something that gets us into the mind of Kauffman and how he is handling the warcrimes and general brutality he was pushed into as a member of the Nazi party. Unfortunately at this point I really didn’t care about Kauffman. By this time in the story, the plot never sticks with any character long enough for the reader to care about him/her, instead the writing seems solely there to move the characters from one point to another. Everything feels forced.

Everything, that is, except for the art. Tezuka again shows why he is an artistic master. Echoing what was written in the review of Part 1, Tezuka deftly handles the multitude of old and new characters, giving them all distinct visual elements and making them easily identifiable. Once again, his output is nearly superhuman. It took a large number of pages rendered to tell this story and the art shows no inconsistency or quality changes throughout. It is a shame that the same cannot be said for the narrative arc.

Message to Adolf Part 2
by Osamu Tezuka
ISBN: 9781935654445
Vertical, 2012