So, How’s That Japanese Manga On Steve Jobs?

So, How’s That Japanese Manga On Steve Jobs?
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The new Ashton Kutcher movie based on the biography of Steve Jobs, Jobs is headed to cinemas for August 29. Sadly, Japan won’t be getting the movie until November. But, in the meantime, Japan has a new manga about the black turtleneck-wearing genius.

Titled, Steve Jobs and written by the author of the popular Thermae Romae manga series, Mari Yamazaki, the manga is an adaptation of Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs: The Biography.

The recently released manga is only the first book in a currently ongoing series. It covers Jobs’ childhood years and early adulthood up until 1974 after he visited India. The story describes Jobs’ life and many of the major influences that made him into the man he later became; his dealing with his own adoption, growing up being told he was special, and realising that he was smarter the most of the people around him, his meeting and befriending of Steve Wozniak, his attending and dropping out of Reed College and his path down the road of Zen Buddhism and the hippie lifestyle.

[As a youth, Steve realised that he may be smarter than his own father]

The panel division and the art itself are simplistic. Yamazaki, the Chicago-dwelling author describes that it was drawn intentionally so. “Much like Apple’s products, Jobs would cut away excess and make things simple and serene, so I wanted to draw a manga that he would like.” Yamazaki writes in the afterword.

Many of the events in Steve Jobs’ life are depicted in a matter-of-fact as-it-happened sort of manner. Jobs’ use of LSD and other psychedelic drugs, his constant alienating of classmates and coworkers, the little pranks he would pull are laid out plainly, but at the same time help to show the many facets of the man that was Steve Jobs.

[Steve experimenting with LSD]

Interestingly enough, this manga almost never was. When Yamazaki was approached to write it, she asked for some time to think about it, as she did not really know about Steve Jobs and felt little about the man. It was after her family hounded her into reading Jobs’ biography that she came to know him and felt inspired to do the manga.

Unfortunately, I have not read Walter Isaacson’s book, so I can’t accurately compare the two, but even so, I imagine the manga sits comfortably between the original biography and the upcoming movie: a blend of visual drama and factual narrative.

[Steve recalls one of his endeavours with his friend Steve Wozniak]

Steve Jobs is currently available in bookstores in Japan, and can be purchased on Amazon. It’s also on iTunes (hah), but may not be available outside Japan.

A child confronting Steve about being an adopted son

[Steve’s father finding marijuana in Steve’s car. Despite his father’s scoldings, Steve continued to use drugs]

[Jobs and Wozniak meet for the first time.]

[Jobs and Wozniak make their own Blue Box: A device that allows them to make free phone calls]

[Steve finds enlightenment in Zen Buddhism]

[Steve begins working at Atari where he was hated by his coworkers]

[Steve openly talked down to people and about things. Despite his non-existent popularity, his employer still saw something in him.]

[Steve travels to India]


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