Saturday, April 9, 2011

Ozma in Japan Strikes Again!

It's Saturday again and we shall continue our series exploring foreign editions and other unusual takes on L. Frank Baum's 1907 Oz book, Ozma of Oz. Two weeks ago we looked at a Japanese picture book edition of Ozma, and today we explore the first full-length Japanese translation.

This edition of Ozu no Ozuma Hime (Princess Ozma of Oz) was published in 1975 by Hayakawa Shobo of Tokyo. It had been preceded by translations of The Wizard of Oz and The Land of Oz, and Hayakawa has since published the entire series of L. Frank Baum's Oz books. The fourteen uniform volumes are each translated by Takako Sato and each features illustrations by Sonoko Arai.

These Japanese Oz books are very attractive. They are small size paperbacks about six inches tall. Each comes in a full-color dust jacket, has a full-color double-page frontispiece, a map, and many black and white illustrations. Each also has an afterword featuring more information about Baum and Oz.

Arai's black and white work has always seemed a little flat to me. The line weight is too uniform, and the pictures can feel a little lifeless and static. But the character designs are good; even if the humans characters seem a bit generic and WASPish. (At right) you can see Sonoko Arai's black and white illustration showing Dorothy meeting Tik-Tok.

I like Arai's color work much better. Indeed, her double-page color illustration of the Wheeler (see below) is one of her best efforts in the Japanese Oz series. It's strong and dynamic; and the use of white space in the background and in the road feels very Japanese.

You can check out the previous Ozma of Oz posts by clicking here.

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