Melody of Iron and Other Stories

Writer / Artist
Melody of Iron and Other Stories
Melody of Iron and Other Stories review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Platinum Manga - 978-1-56970-354-0
  • Release date: 1974
  • English language release date: 2017
  • Format: Black and white
  • UPC: 9781569703540
  • Contains adult content?: yes
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: no

The eye-catching, but puzzling cover motif of arms is clarified shortly into the title story occupying two-thirds of Melody of Iron. It’s accompanied by two others, one at just fifteen pages, all characterised by Osamu Tezuka in his afterword as being produced through a bleak period during which too many of his stories were dark and hopeless with emotionless themes.

That’s an extremely harsh judgement on this material, as all three stories may concentrate on darker emotions, but they’re all very readable, involving fascinating ideas that pull the readers along to the final pages. It’s the last that’s the weakest of the three, an extended mystery leading to an admittedly clever twist ending, although Tezuka does enough to ensure readers have some sympathy for the woman who wakes from a coma believing to be someone else, and the strain that puts her husband under.

There’s a poignancy to the eventual fate of a young woman whose son dies when they’re both on a ship that sinks. For much of her life thereafter she sees him when looking at a clear white surface, stuck in the last pose she remembers, his arms waving. It supplies another clever ending, but is better for Tezuka not dragging on the process too long.

‘Melody of Iron’ is bonkers gangster melodrama, a torrid tale of all-encompassing desire for revenge, telekinesis and an unfortunate young woman unknowingly married into a Mafia family. Her husband is genuinely infatuated at first, but a weak man and one whose loyalties are easily swayed. The key character is the woman’s brother who crosses the family without realising, suffers unimaginable and lurid consequences before discovering the means for vengeance. However, this story is long enough for a thorough investigation of single mindedness with a few more twists thrown in. Despite being silly it’s produced with just the right amount of sincerity to guarantee it remains compelling.

As ever with Tezuka, the art is peerless. Any comic artist could learn a trick or two from the storytelling methods, the dynamism of the action, and how to pitch a perfect panel.