Adolf: A Tale of the Twentieth Century by Osamu Tezuka
Review by Lauren
copy from library; all opinions are my own
Official Summary: On the Eve of World War II, the destinies of three men named "Adolf" - including the infamous dictator of Germany's Third Reich- become inexorably intertwined...
Review: This is a graphic novel that I came across at the library and I thought it would be interesting to check out for Holocaust Remembrance Week. First, I have to note that this is just the first volume of the story, so unfortunately, I was only able to read so far. Regardless, I think Adolf Volume 1 includes enough to be somewhat of a full story.
The first part of the story left me a bit confused because it didn't seem to follow the brief summary. A Japanese man, Toge, is on assignment in Germany when he finds out that his brother has been murdered. His brother, Isao, told him he had important information for him but before Toge gets there, his brother is killed and is soon taken away by people who first appear to be policemen. Toge starts his search to learn the truth about his brother's death and to figure out just what Isao had been hoping to pass along.
Once I reached the second part, aspects of the beginning began to make sense, plus we meet the two fictional Adolf's. Both are young boys living in Japan, though they are not Japanese. The slightly older Adolf is Jewish, and the younger Adolf (who the readers follow for the most part) has a father high up in the Nazi Party. Both boys want to be friends and the young Adolf is desperate to avoid the Hitler youth because he doesn't want to learn how to hate jews.
The information that Isao had in the beginning is found out by the older Adolf, and eventually the younger, later in the book. Obviously I won't give it away since it's important to the overall story and fates of multiple people. My library doesn't have any of the other volumes in this series, which is unfortunate because I would like to see if this information is pertinent later in the story.
Regardless, I think Adolf Volume 1 was an intriguing look at those affected by Hitler, pre-WWII. It shows how the Nazi party was celebrated and thought to be a welcome change in Germany. The book also follows Japanese characters or takes place in Japan, which is also a unique perspective that many people don't realize. In between some of the chapters is a breakdown of major events during the years throughout the book, which was a nice look at history and how certain events related to this fictional story.
Finally, the graphic aspect was interesting, though I found that the ethnicity of the characters was difficult to distinguish sometimes. For example, it took me a bit to realize that Toge was Japanese in the beginning. It's not really a complaint, but since I noticed it, I thought I would share. I read an introduction that explained that this was more realistic drawing for Tezukua though, and in that regard, I think it worked. I particularly liked the page where Hitler is giving a speech. Tezuka really shows the cartoon-ish and ridiculous nature of his performance.
Overall, this was a different look at the rise of Hitler and I would be very interested in reading more of the volumes.
This was read for the Graphic Novel Reading Challenge