When Pete's late father leaves him a map of treasure island, the young boy roars down to the dock and hops on a ship headed for adventure. With his friends, the ship's captain and his trusty canine companion, by his side, Pete must face off against the scourge of the seven seas, the dread pirate boar! But when a sudden storm sends everyone into the sea, the race is on to see who will claim the riches of treasure island first... With only man-eating sharks, an island-full of hungry cannibals, and a small army of lions, tigers and elephants, all under the control of an enigmatic Tarzan-like figure named baron, standing in their way.
The story is...okay enough, I guess. Though the real reason to read this is purely as a historical look at one of Osamu Tezuka's earliest works. I believe it's feir second published work. The first few pages have a rough start, as too much time is spent on consecutive panels showing the movement of the car. The panel layout is very simple throughout, with each page consisting of about three or four panels stacked vertically on top of each other. Reminiscent of newspaper comics and Mickey Mouse and stuff like that. The artwork is very simple and round. There is a little bit of humor thrown in throughout, but none of the gags actually made me laugh. They're pretty weak. It's more just moments of levity and unseriousness as opposed to solid humorous scenarios or set-ups. The story is a series of adventure novel type events, with some unimpressive justifications for why some of the things happen as they do (beyond it just fitting into a trope or working better for the story or whatever). I guess I can appreciate the foreshadowing peppered in throughout that this world is probably just be a figment of Pete's imagination, but that doesn't really make the story better, per se. I feel like the "black savage" caricature might have been slightly less problematic if the author had had another black native be the one to ride in on an elephant's back to save Pete and feir allies. But instead, Tezuka went full white savior and had a noble-born Tarzan rip-off with fully groomed hair and a charming personality swoop in to save the day. And then to make it worse, the end includes Pete suggesting turning the island into a zoo with zero consideration given to the fact that doing so would be disrupting the lives of the people currently inhabiting the island. In fact, the ending basically glosses over the very existence of the natives living on the island at all. It's a full-on, unapologetic imperialist attitude of "we are better than you, so we deserve to own this land and you're just in the way." We the readers are supposed to interpret the natives as being unworthy of our respect, because they are uncultured and gleefully cannibalistic. And I suppose, it's somewhat acceptable to have un-nuanced antagonists for a story (like the pirates also lack nuance), but what makes the caricature of the natives problematic is that it can lead to readers subconsciously feeling like historical instances of white imperialism were justified in the real world as well.
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