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- Phoenix manga begins publication in Manga Shōnen
- Manga Shōnen ceases publication, Phoenix "Dawn" unfinished
- Reworked Phoenix story begins publication in Shōjo Club.
- Reworked "Dawn" concept published in COM magazine
- Chapter "Future"published in COM magazine
- Chapter "Yamato" published in COM magazine
- Chapter "Universe" published in COM magazine
- Chapter "Hō-ō" published in COM magazine
- Chapter "Ressurection" published in COM magazine
- Chapter "Robe of Feathers" published in COM magazine
- Chapter "Nostalgia" published in COM magazine
- Phoenix live-action/anime movie is released
- Chapter "Turbulent Times" published in Manga Shōnen
- Chapter "Life" published in Manga Shōnen
- Space Firebird 2772 animated film released
- Chapter "Strange Beings" published in Manga Shōnen
- Chapter "Sun" published in The Wild Age
- OAV Phoenix - Hō-ō released
- OAV Phoenix - Space released
- OAV Phoenix - Yamato released
- 13-episode Phoenix anime TV series airs on NHK
Also known as 火の鳥 (Hi no Tori)
The culmination of Tezuka's life's work, Phoenix is considered by many to be his greatest masterpiece. Although the earliest incarnation of the story was first published in 1954 in Manga Shōnen (漫画少年), the series also spawned a reworked manga version aimed at young girls, published between 1956-57 in Shōjo Club (少女クラブ). However, by far, the most well-known Phoenix manga series refers to twelve loosely connected stories - with the first, "Dawn" published in COM magazine in 1967, and the last, "Sun", appearing in 1988 in The Wild Age, shortly before Tezuka's death in 1989. The Phoenix story has also appeared in animated form in several films as well as a 13-episode television series in 2004.
What it's about
If you drink the blood of the Phoenix, you'll live forever. From this basic concept, Tezuka has crafted some of his most inspired, most experimental and most intimate stories. The stories in the Phoenix series consist of everything from romantic love stories to sci-fi adventure, to historical drama. Although only loosely connected, each of the stories is linked by the presence of the mythical bird, an immortal guardian of the universal life force. The twelve "core" stories are all self-contained and, when read in the order they were published, jump across time with the settings alternating between the distant past and the far-flung future - with each working the story ever closer towards a middle point in "the present".
What you should know
Thematically, Phoenix is enormously complex, and the stories are largely focused on reincarnation, karma and the problems raised by immortal life. These are rarely happy stories, scrutinizing various times throughout history (and peering well into the future), searching hopefully for the time and place where human kind will see beyond its own weaknesses and be able to survive without killing itself off. Because reincarnation is such a central theme to Phoenix, does incorporate Tezuka's Star System, but it is far more limited than in his other works. Beyond the Phoenix, the character most commonly reoccurring is Saruta, though he often has different names, and his personality shifts a bit with different reincarnations. There are nonetheless occasional guest appearances by Rock, Shunsaku Ban among others.
Although the twelve stories may be seen as an attempt to expand away from traditional manga in order to appeal to new audiences, the Phoenix herself appears in works dating back to 1954, with the central premise intact (though as a children's story). Thus, the idea and stories of the Phoenix were re-explored continuously by Tezuka until his death. Consequently, the Phoenix 'series' is considered unfinished, though each story can be read on its own, and the sequence merely indicates the order in which they were written. It is also hard to say what a conclusion to this series would look like, or if it would even be possible. It is nonetheless certain that 'Sun' does not represent a final volume to the work, since Tezuka was working on an additional entry (a brief summary of which can be read at the end of VIZ's publication of "Sun" Vol. 2.)