Admittedly, it was somewhat awkward to carry around an over 600 page hardcover with a picture of Hitler on it. The story revolves around Japan and its relationship with Germany and the Nazi party during the lead up to WWII. There are really three Adolfs: The obvious one and two German boys living in Japan, one Jewish and one half Japanese son of a German official. The story is often amazing in its scope and dedication to pointing out the absolute horrors of Nazism and Japanese complicity with it as well as their own fascist past. Still, there are issues, the art often becomes too cartoony, one of the heroes engages in rape (yes, I'm arguing that it was rape), and every women falls madly in love with that same character as soon as they meet him. My biggest complaint--and perhaps this is the librarian in me--revolves around the McGuffin. I won't spoil anything, but let me just say that if a document is completely inaccessible, it might as well not exist. Don't believe me? Ok, I have the meaning of life written down right next to me. Would you like it? Oh well. Too much of the story deals with documents that would change the world, which is why the bad guys want to destroy them (not that they couldn't just say they were fake), but they don't need to if no one sees them! Useful information needs to be used to be useful, thus the term.
Interestingly, there is a lot of stress made about how kind and helpful Japan is to Jews; however, everything I've read shows that the Japanese--while rarely every meeting anyone Jewish--have extreme prejudice against them. Still, I'm very impressed that Tezuka tackles such a subject, forcing Japanese to recognize their role in the most important event of the last hundred years. The tale involved politics, intrigue, history, difficulties in coming of age, mindless racism/prejudice, and bravery. I look forward to reading the conclusion.