Why You Should Read Osamu Tezuka’s ‘Swallowing The Earth’

by Tito W. James

‘Amidst the chaos of World War II, two Japanese sailors hear of Zephyrus, an utterly captivating woman in the South Pacific. Many years have since passed, and now Zephyrus has resurfaced in Japan, wielding her mysterious power over all men to exact revenge for their crimes against women since the beginning of time.’

Much like The Book of Human Insects, Swallowing The Earth is a social thriller inspired by the feminist movement of the 1960s and 70s. Those familiar with Osamu Tezuka’s adult manga can expect his signature cartoon logic juxtaposed with provocative subject matter. What starts as a simple hunt for a femme fatale ends with the collapse of man-made civilization. There’s so much unrestrained imagination in one volume that Swallowing The Earth defies traditional genre categorization.

The cartoony visuals help to acclimate the reader to the many absurd twists and turns the story takes. Swallowing The Earth contains cults, warfare, LSD-induced sex, crime, assassination, mysterious islands, and race-bending disguises. These are just a few of the many moments that simply wouldn’t work in a more realistic style.

However, no matter how strange or controversial the story gets, somehow it still works. Tezuka has a cinematic eye for direction that translates neatly onto the page. Every bombastic action scene is balanced with quieter moments of atmosphere and sensuality. Tezuka is able to maintain the pacing and tension of a thriller even when the saga takes place across many years.

Swallowing The Earth is an audacious epic by one of manga’s greatest artists. It’s an uncompromising vision that few contemporary works can match. While some elements of the story are products of their time, they are small in comparison to the numerous aspects that are avant-garde.

Swallowing The Earth is available now from DMP Platinum Manga.

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