I just finished it. If you have any interest in comics or manga on any level, I recommend that you read this. It's brilliant, epic, human and divine. It is a sweeping tale with almost too many characters to keep track of. The story starts before the main character is even born, and it continues until he dies 80? or so years later. We see charcters introduced, rise up and then fall, only to have more rise up. We follow a number of kings and princes and a large number of monks and various other people.
There is a lot of realism in this. Not everyone accepts the Buddha immediately. Not everyone accepts his motives or even believes that he is sincere in his mission. Some plot to kill him for nothing more than fame, while others try repeatedly because his existence cramps their style. Some follow him faithfully, only to fall of the wagon later to their own detriment. Some oppose him at every step, only to turn to him in their darkest of times and emerge faithful followers.
This is really a moving story. It is executed with brilliance and humor. I almost dismissed it when I was flipping through it in the library due to the strong cartoonish style. I'm glad I picked it up. Don't laugh, but I think I'm better off for having read this. I love the tenets of Buddha's philosophy. I love seeing these sorts of things expressed in fiction too. Characters who exemplefy that sort of selflessness usually appeal to me. He is a good man, but he is a man. His path to enlightenment wasn't easy, but there was no expectation that it would be. His sermons were about the interconnectivity and interdependence of all life. The commonality of the living, and about the false constructs that people have made to divide themselves, and the folly of such things.
I borrowed this from my local library. There were at least 2 full sets in my local system. I recommend everyone go out and borrow it. Don't forget interlibrary loan as an option. I would like to own this eventually, but I don't know how soon that will be able to happen.
I definitely want to read more on Buddhism now. The title is sort of a joke for me. A recurring sort of joke I make is about how easily moved I am by things I read. Usually this takes the form of my saying that I became a lesbian after reading Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown. You give me a sympathetic or compelling character and I promise you I will identify with them somehow.