Japan Cuts Review: Osamu Tezuka’s Buddha: The Great Departure

I don’t believe there are words to really say how satisfied I am with this movie. It is after all animation of Osamu Tezuka’s Buddha. If you read the manga, then you would enjoy this movie greatly. The Great Departure is the first movie in a trilogy, so there is going to be some time to wait before the rest of the movies come out.

It has been a must see movie of mine since I heard of it beginning production last year. It was also part of my Spring anime pick, since it aired in Japan at May. Then when I met Yoshiki, Buddha’s Theme was also played. So you can imagine how happy I was, when I heard that New York Asian Film Festival is going to be doing a North America premiere of it. As my friends told me, tickets were completely sold out and there was a waiting line. However good thing for some viewers, is that there is going to be an Encore presentation for it this Sunday, where there is likely to be a raffle from Vertical, as what the staff mentioned.

NYAFF is an annual film festival in New York City that showcases movies for various Asian countries, so Japan Society gets involved, and this is their fifth year with being a part of NYAFF with their own Japan Cuts. Cuts is where a selection of notable Japanese films are premiered or shown. This is my third year going to NYAFF, and as a fan for Japanese films. I end up writing/babbling about movies I experienced.

If you read the manga then rest assure that this movie follows the manga accurately with possibly a few minor changes and omissions. Of course reading the manga is infinity better, since there is details and nuances that were not even covered in this movie. This eight volume set is released in English by Vertical. The Great Departure covers volumes 1-2 of the manga series.

I watched the movie, and was pretty happy with hearing the voices of Masato Sakai as adult Chapra. Later my friend told me, there were also more notable voice actors in it. I heard the movie, with an ear thinking that I know these voices. So yes, Nana Mizuki, Mamiko Noto, Ikue Ohtani are voices that is in the movie.

The background is definitely going to be not as detailed as Satoshi Kon, but the sweeping visuals of this film is stunning. There is also what my friend notes as three major battle scenes, where the godliness of Buddha is flagged with rainbow colors. The themes of this movie is pretty much the life of how Buddha gains enlightenment to be a noted religious figure.

Music for this film is quite moving, lots of strings and movement. I was also waiting to hear Scarlet Love Song for the umpteenth time. (sighs) Toshi’s voice and Yoshiki’s composition is just superb. At this point, I count this as a movie theater experience that I haven’t done in over a year. So right now contemplating on going to see Ninja Rantarou, which is playing on Saturday, that is based off a manga and anime.

Author: Linda

Linda is a life long fan of anime, and dabbles in a lot of things. She writes with a tentative neutral voice.. and as for that three year anime blogging mark, she tries to defy that as she is gaining a voice in other mediums ie: Twitter. Find her at other places online. "They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but it's not one half so bad as a lot of ignorance." -Terry Pratchett

9 thoughts on “Japan Cuts Review: Osamu Tezuka’s Buddha: The Great Departure

  1. Notou Mamiko’s in it! That’s cool. Too bad Anime Expo didn’t show Buddha. I really want to see the film since it’s one of the masterpieces of Tezuka. Another Tezuka’s philosophical/religious theme manga would be Hi-no-Tori. And there were films produced in the 80s, but critics were harsh on it. Seems critics are praising Buddha this time. What can go wrong with Mamiko?

    I think this film will make young Japanese people realize that Buddha was actually an Indian, just like the manga taught me that. Probably up to 40% of Japanese vocabularies came from Buddhist Chinese terms. So, Japanese Buddhism is Chinese filtered, so I’m interested in learning the original Indian Buddhism. One day, if I have money, I want to visit India.

    1. I read parts of Phoenix. Thought the parts I read from Viz, I felt resembled mostly to To the Terra actually. I will try to read the rest of Phoenix. That’s the thing.. Mamiko Noto’s voice was only in it for a few scenes. >_< Two at most! Her voice was actually uncredited, but they mention she was Princess Yashodara, who is Siddharta's wife.

      This movie is in my opinion, Tezuka production doing an ode to Tezuka, and to the fans. Since this film took a long time to be produced. It be be top notch! Do you know how much it would suck if bombed! Hmmm, it was pretty strange looking at Siddharta with eyeshadow. He didn't look Indian though, so imo the most Indian looking character was Tatta Of course it would be Chinese filtered… it gained popularity from India to China then to Korea and Japan. I am pretty impressed with Zen Buddhism. One aspect of Buddhism, I enjoyed was are the Sand Mandalas.They are amazing to see.

      India is quite the sacred place to visit. Though there is not as much Buddhism practiced in India as there is for Hinduism. My personal interest to look more into for Buddhism is actually the Tibetan Buddhism sect…

      1. Uncredited…such a huge seiyuu like her? So she done as an extra? I also like the Pheonix episode too. That episode is very Buddhistic. Other episodes I remember vaguely. Yeah, I definitely want to see this film!

        I think Indian royal men at that time were putting makeups. Japanese noble men during the Hei-an period also put makeups on. Samurai clans were into Zen Buddhism such as Takeda, while the folks were into Pureland. Zen is beyond my comprehension, telepathy and all that. Pureland is simple, they got only one phrase to chant. But anyway, most of the Buddhist sects from Japan were invented in China. All the sutras were in Chinese which is why so hard to understand Buddhism. So, I want to learn original Buddhism, not Chinese filtered ones.

        Right, Buddhism died out around 13th century in India after the last big temple was destroyed by the Muslims. Yeah, sand-painting is fascinating, and they wipe it in the end. Tibetan is Vajrayana, the sect got all kinds of magic chants like love spells. Notable Vajrayana sect in Japan is Mikkyo. I cast love spells but it didn’t work. So, I’ve become atheist. Probably close to Lokayata. Other Indian religions I’m interested are Jainaism and Yoga.

        Do you meditate?

      2. On the official site I was staring at for a couple of times.. None.. Yet ANN credits Noto as being in it. Like i said to Wintermuted.. Defintly enjoy it… Well from what i know of Chinese buddhism, is from Indian language. I love how Anita Mui sang the heart sutra. Sand Mandlas are done as meditation and prayer.. So when you’re done it is washed or swept away to begin again. Actually what i like about tibetan buddhism is not the love aspect, but the ceramony, music and prayers… It is quite amazing to watch. I am agonistic, i think.. I use to take yoga classes, since it was also a philosophy course. (sighs) i love the relaxing quality of mediation, thouhgh i dont do it often, there is always so much to do and think about.

      3. Yeah, I definitely will! Yes, Son Go-Ku’s monk directly translated from Sanskrit to Chinese. And many sutras in Japan are his translations. So, basically it’s reading foreign language. We need Japanese sutras, just like nobody reads the Bible in Latin anymore. Didn’t know there was a song for the heart sutra, sounds good, but yes, I used to chant the mantra of it, which is about Ku, one of the toughest concepts in Buddhism. Go-Ku is “realizing ku,” so Dragon Ball is buddhist, though Toriyama himself is a Jehovah Witness. Yes, Tibetan ritual aspect is amazing, I agree. I also used to go to yoga studio, it really helped improve my digestive system, but unfortunately I had to stop. Affordability is always the case. Agnostic sounds cool, sounds like a very deep-thinker, maybe I should start calling myself agnostic, so it makes me look smart. 🙂 Were you studying philosophy?

      4. I love hearing the heart sutra. I always thought that what prayers there is, it is an Sanskirt interpretation. Though my yoga professor loves to mentio. The meditaton and praryer of om. I grew up with the story of Goku as a fairytale almost. I did not realize that Toriyama was Jehovah witness. There is a chart in chinese of man’ s top 10 or 12 evils. Ku is hardship right? Religion is such a deep question. There certainly is a Higher being, but trying to think of which one makes it hard. I took a couple of philosophy courses in college, before I switched majors.

      5. Yeah, that’s cool that you learned philosophy, and tried out many things. Yes, Om prayer is cool! My yoga teacher was also chanting gayatri mantra. 空 Ku is sunya, zero, or emptiness of nature which we use words for our convenience to describe. So, Zen is 教外別伝 (dogma beyond words), 以心伝心(telepathy), which doesn’t make any sense to me. So, traditionally silence has been highly valued in Japan, not like America where you have to speak up at any moment. So I guess their attitude is somewhat similar to agnostic, like they take the 5th for questions like “Does higher being (buddha, God) exist or not? Are they eternal or not?” Very different from John’s “The word (logos) was God,” hu? Does Chinese culture value silence too?

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