Osamu Tezuka’s Phoenix: Where Did the Phoenix Come From?

Tezuka’s Phoenix: Where Did the Phoenix Come From?
Credit: Studio 4°C 

Tezuka’s Phoenix: Where Did the Phoenix Come From?
Credit: Studio 4°C 

The Phoenix, also known as the Ho-Oh, is a prominent figure in Osamu Tezuka’s 1954 Phoenix manga. It is a central symbol and a recurrent motif, as it links the different characters and their storylines in the manga. It is a legendary bird, but where did the Phoenix come from in the Phoenix manga?

After the Phoenix made an appearance in the live-action film and multiple anime films and series, it is set to return in Studio 4°C’s Phoenix: Eden17 ONA and Phoenix: Reminiscence of Flower anime film.

Spoiler Warning: There are some Phoenix manga spoilers ahead!

What Does the Phoenix Mean?

Tezuka’s Phoenix: What Does the Phoenix Mean?
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Credit: Tezuka Productions

In all 12 volumes of Osamu Tezuka’s Phoenix, the legendary bird is sought after by the characters in the belief that drinking its blood will give them immortality and power and forbid them from aging.

In the first volume of the Phoenix manga, entitled Dawn, the Phoenix lives in an active volcano and appears only when it erupts.

It rises from the lava and amuses its captors, like the character Urakiji, who died in his attempt to capture the Phoenix in the hopes that he would be able to hand it to his dying sister.

In the Resurrection volume of the manga, the Phoenix then appears in space as it overlooks the events happening to a character named Leon, who died after he fell from his robocar and returned to life thanks to his bizarre doctors.

Tezuka’s Phoenix: What Does the Phoenix Mean?
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Credit: Osamu Tezuka

This means that the Phoenix appears wherever and whenever it wants, as it guides and overlooks the fate of the manga characters.

From time to time, the Phoenix also helps the characters, like what it did to Romy in Nostalgia and Takeru in Dawn, but it comes at a great cost with moral dilemmas. The bird also acts as a catalyst that sets the plot in motion.

The Phoenix plays a vital role in the story, and it is often associated with deep moral and psychological themes and elements like ambition, greed, the consequences of one’s actions, and human nature.

Aside from being a symbol of immortality and rebirth, the Phoenix marks the redemption and transformation of the characters. It also brings an aesthetic element to the story, as the Phoenix appears in different vibrant designs.

Where Did the Phoenix Come From?

Tezuka’s Phoenix: Where Did the Phoenix Come From?
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Credit: Osamu Tezuka

Technically speaking, Tezuka’s phoenix came from or is inspired by Igor Stravinsky’s ballet, The Firebird. It left a "passionate, elegant, and mysterious" impression on Tezuka that continued to fascinate him while he was working on the Phoenix manga.

In the Nostalgia volume of the Phoenix manga, the Phoenix watches over vast space and tells the story of Romy and how she wound up on a planet called Eden17.

It is unknown where the legendary bird came from, but what is certain is that the Phoenix played an important role in Romy’s life and the events that transpired in Eden17.

The Phoenix stayed on Fire Mountain, where its mercy was sought by Romy’s son, Seth. He asked the Phoenix to let him and Romy be together, but what the Phoenix did was bring him a shapeshifting alien called Moopie.

The same thing happened in the other volumes of the Phoenix manga, where the Phoenix appeared in ancient Japan and is living (again) in the Fire Mountain.

This Phoenix likes to watch over the citizens but also appears in front of them to fuel their curiosity.

What Is the Phoenix's Role in Eden17?

Tezuka’s Phoenix: What Is the Phoenix Role in Eden 17?
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Credit: Studio 4°C

The Phoenix has a very special and important role in Eden17. The legendary bird granted Romy’s wish to create a thriving society in Eden17, where the planet’s condition only allows her to give birth to multiple sons.

Through Seth, the Phoenix sought the help of a particular moopie to create a society in Eden17.

This moopie shapeshifted into Romy’s form and proceeded to couple up with Seth, eventually giving birth to multiple daughters on the planet.

The Phoenix also moderated the number of earthquakes that hit Eden17. With its help, the citizens of Eden17 were able to sleep peacefully without fear of losing their civilization to the forces of nature.

Lastly, the Phoenix appeared to Queen Romy’s stand-in to inform her about an unfortunate prophecy.

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