Manga Quick Information

Title: Ayako
Original vintage: 1972
Mangaka: Osamu Tezuka
Published by: Vertical
Genre: Drama
Material length: 704 pages

Ian Wolf's review

Ian Wolf scored this with 7/10.

"No one who has not sat in prison knows what the State is like." – Leo Tolstoy.

In terms of Osamu Tezuka's work, Ayako certainly fits into his darker side. It is not as dark however as some of his even later work like MW or Message to Adolf, but it certainly has some stuff you probably would not expect to find in Astro Boy.

This collection of three volumes tells the story of the Tenge family starting in 1949 when Japan was still occupied by the Americans following the end of the war and ending at the then present day when the manga ended in 1973. The family is led by the conservative patriarch Sakuemon, who is annoyed by the fact that his middle son, the one-eyed Jiro, did not die but surrendered. Jiro is now working, unknown to the rest of the family, as an American agent.

The family has several problems. Their land is being taken away from them by the government, the younger sister Naoko is a communist, the eldest son Ichiro beats his wife, and there is also the little issue of the youngest child in the family, four-year-old Ayako. Ayako ends up witnessing incest and murder at a very young age. As a result, Sakuemon and Ichiro decide that the best way to stop Ayako from learning anything more is to lock her in the cellar for the rest of her life.

As the manga goes on, there is more fighting, death and mystery. Amongst other things, Jiro leaves the family home and gains power in the criminal underworld; Sakuemon has a stroke which leads to Ichiro waiting for him to die for a long period to claim his inheritance; and the youngest son in the family, Shiro, has an affair with Ayako. Ayako is not freed from her cellar until the building above is demolished in 1972, and then runs away to start a new life, albeit still keen to hide herself away at times in a large crate. Soon after she gains her freedom however, her activities begin to affect the rest of the Tenge clan.

There is quite a lot to take in concerning this collection. For starters there is the issue of the title character being locked in the cellar for 22-and-a-half years, who ends up being abused and who has incestuous sex, often quite willingly. Safe to say that this is just one reason why this manga will not be for everyone. Then there is all the other stuff which occurs: domestic violence, murder and attempted rape, all feature.

However, these acts all build up to the tragedy of the piece. It does feel a bit rather like a soap opera at times. With all the beatings and rest of it, you cannot help but feel that at some point one of the characters will turn to the other and exclaim: "Leave it, he's not worth it!" The plot does grip you, like most of Tezuka's plots. However, I am not sure it is as gripping as some of his more thriller-like work like Message to Adolf. The whole manga, though, builds up nicely, especially in the ending in which many members of the family - and indeed others - get their comeuppance.

Overall, Ayako is a pleasing work, and if you are not easily offended you should find it to be an enticing enough collection.

Review Information

Score: 7 out of 10
Review By: Ian Wolf
Date Published: Wed, 27 Feb 2013

Editorial Spotlight

Romantic comedies seem like the simplest concept to write, because we all want to laugh and experience love in some capacity. But it’s also the easiest to get wrong. There.. Read more (0 comments)
This review contains spoilers from the first part.   " If you think you are too small to be effective, you have never been in bed with a mosquito." -.. Read more (2 comments)
The Levamme Empire and the Amatsukami Imperium are at war. But on the island of San Maltilia a glittering reception is being held to celebrate the engagement of young Lady Juana.. Read more (0 comments)

Got news?

Got some news? E-mail it to news@AUKN

Recent Comments

Stephen Hester on Attack on Titan #2

The Sawney & Beane references are to an old Scottish Tale the is clearly referenced in the Script of the show. (Read more)

Adam on Attack on Titan #2

@ Ian Wolf why so critical here and so generous on Gurren Lagann? This smells biased.. (Read more)

The Anime Girlz on Hetalia: Axis Powers #1

This was an anime a friend of mine recommended because I was beginning to like anime and manga. When I first watched the anime, I was like... (Read more)

Speedy Z5 on Elemental Gelade #2

Still just waiting to talk about the movie/book or something WHY ALPHA WHHY WHY DID YOU ABANDON ME!!? (Read more)

KIBA on Princess Mononoke

princess mononoke is a great blend of magic and fantasy that any one young or old would lose them selfs in this fantasy world (Read more)

About Anime UK News

Anime UK News has been going since 2004, want to contact us or learn a little more about the site? Head to the about us page.