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9th November 2012

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Can Callousness Become Love? (The Book of Human Insects)


Japanese cover to Osamu Tezuka's "The Book of Human Insects"

"I feel so empty…Why should a woman living life to the fullest on her own feel so empty? Momma, I want…Mr. Mizuno!!"

With how the world is today, we often hear stories about people who make others suffer and/or have no regard for the well-being of their fellow man. The media portrays them as heartless and cruel. But what if underneath their scary exteriors, they secretly have a yearning for a connection that they hope to find? This is extremely prevalent in Osamu Tezuka’s “The Book of Human Insects” with regards to the main lead character, Toshiko Tomura. She is considered to be a very callous individual who constantly manipulates men to achieve fame and glory. However, Tomura has a deep attachment to a former flame, Ryotaro Mizuno. Her confused mindset makes you wonder if extremely apathetic individuals can truly develop feelings of attachment.

It all began for Tomura and Mizuno when they met each other at a theater they both worked at. Mizuno was a designer trying to make it big. Tomura was a performing act at the theater, but decided to be his assistant. Both hit it off and Mizuno proposed to marry Tomura after he showed off his art to the world. The predator in Tomura decided to intervene, as she stole one of Mizuno’s works and used it to make herself famous. Mizuno angrily ended the relationship after learning of her deceit. The two would run into each other multiple times throughout the story. Since the breakup, a huge void was left in the heart of Tomura as she still considers Mizuno (who ignores her advances) to be important. Yet she continues her parasitic habits on any man that can help her get a quick buck. Women are quite complex creatures, aren’t they? 

The true nature of Toshiko Tomura.

When we see the true nature of Tomura, it is that of a spoiled child who doesn’t understand the idea of hard work. She surrounds herself with department store goods, sleeps with a pacifier, and worships a wax statue of her mother in her home. It becomes evident that Tomura probably suffered from having CU (callous and unemotional) traits as a child growing up. Children with CU traits have a high possibility of being psychopaths as they become adults. 

The tumultuous relationship between Toshiko Tomura and Ryotaro Mizuno.

While one can argue that people do change their thoughts over time, can one who becomes evil over time truly become good again? We hear all the time about how great people can become deluded by their selfish desires. Tomura seems to yearn for some emotional stability. Though at the same time, she tries to convince Mizuno to become like her. What is “love” to a psychopath actually? Is it just a brief act of passion in which their significant other fulfills their needs and nothing more? How one views love can be entirely subjective.

The thing with Tomura’s love for Mizuno is that she had a genuine interest in him. That’s a stepping stone for developing compassion. The only problem was that it wasn’t consistent as she kept committing sins left and right and didn’t feel heavily inspired to be angelic. It is quite possible for callousness to become concern if your brain is subtly trained to become a better person. Anyone can be compassionate if they put their mind to it. Sadly, near the end of the story, Mizuno goes to prison for murder. While Tomura is sympathetic, she does say that it would be better off if he was killed in prison since she could stop thinking about him. 

French cover for "The Book of Human Insects" featuring Toshiko Tomura

One has to wonder what Tezuka was trying to highlight with this glaring flaw of Tomura. A remorseless person who wants to be loved by a significant other. Maybe that brains are indeed capable of and can be shaped by change over time? As Vertical Inc. describes Tezuka’s writing, it remains forever strange to us. Yet that strangeness leads to creativity, which can help to teach us compassion. 

Leave it to the “God of Manga” for being critical yet inspiring at the same time. 

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Tagged: Osamu TezukaRyotaro MizunoThe Book of Human InsectsToshiko TomuraVertical Inc.mangamanga charactermanga psychologypsychologypsychology of callousnesscompassionate brainCU traitsGod of Manga

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