God of Manga Osamu Tezuka to return to work with “new manga” produced by AI


Creator of Astro Boy has been deceased for 30 years.

Osamu Tezuka, best known as the creator of Tetsuwan Atom/Astro Boy, is routinely called the “god of manga.” It’s a title he earned not just through his dynamic layouts and innovative art techniques, but through his tireless dedication to his craft.

Tezuka made his manga debut at the age of 17, and his list of collected works now consists of hundreds of titles, from such iconic classics as Jungle Emperor/Kimba the White Lion, Phoenix, and Black Jack to more obscure projects like Brave Dan, Hungry Blues, and Infant Development of ESP. But despite there being more Tezuka content out there than any one fan could reasonably be expected to ever read, Japanese tech firm Kioxia says it’s currently helping to create “a new Osamu Tezuka manga.”

▼ Kioxia’s project announcement video

Considering that Tezuka was born in 1928, you might be thinking that this is an ambitious undertaking for an artist of his age. What makes the news of a new Tezuka manga even more surprising, though, is that he’s been dead since 1989.

So how does Kioxia hope to produce a new Tezuka manga? The key lies in the company’s name, which comes from the Japanese word kioku, or “memory.” Until recently, Kioxia was called Toshiba Memory, and the organization specializes in high-speed, high-capacity data storage. By digitizing Tezuka’s works and analyzing them, Kioxia hopes to determine the key elements of his artistic style, then apply that knowledge to AI technology which will draw an answer to the question “If Osamu Tezuka were alive today, what kind of manga would he draw?”

The concept sounds similar to what we’ve seen with inputting a vast number of anime-style illustrations into generative adversarial networks and having them create new characters once they’ve identified baseline aesthetics and viable variations. However, unlike previous projects which used artwork from a large number of artists, all of Kioxia’s inputs will come from Tezuka alone. It’s something that’s only possible with an artist with such a huge body of work as Tezuka has, and the results, ideally, should be less of an amelioration of current trends across the anime/manga world, but a statistically valid illustration that Tezuka might have drawn, were he still alive.

Kioxia is remaining quiet on specifics, and hasn’t revealed whether the project’s goal is simply a collection of unrelated artwork, or a series of connected pictures that seek to tell a story. The company also hasn’t mentioned if there will be any dialogue (in addition to handling art, Tezuka also was the writer for his comics), or if the AI inputs will include Tezuka’s erotic mouse lady pictures, so we’ll have to wait until Kioxia’s “new Tezuka manga” is finished and shown to the public, which is scheduled to happen in February.

Source: Oricon News via Yahoo! News Japan via Hachima Kiko via Anime News Network/ Rafael Antonio Pineda
Top image: YouTube/ KIOXIA-JP
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