Phoenix, Vol. 1: Dawn
This is a very special manga and a piece of literature. First of all, for those who have never read a Tezuka manga, you'd be distracted by the inferiority of the artwork by today's standard. By if you can ignore that, you'll find the storyline is one of the greatest achievements in literary history.
The entire series is shifting between past and future. And the interval between time will become smaller and smaller. For example, the story started from pre-historical Japan, then shift to circa 3000 AD in the future, but the jump between time will become shorter as it goes.
The series is incomplete, due to Tezuka's untimely death, though in other sense, it's completed because I think Tezuka probably knew he probably didn't have time to finish it, so the last published chapter already nailed the point that you can't really miss.
Each episodic story is clearly told, but once you began try to link the point of each story, you'd realize it's actually a collage of pictures with a repeating theme that tries to tell you about this vicious cycle of life. Every story is essentially the same, about how human being overwhelmed by their own greed and do stupid things over and over, disregard the passage of time.
So what's the main conflict? There are some side stories, but all the core stories are united with this Phoenix figure, which essentialy the god figure of the story. The Phoenix is immortal. According to the legend, anyone who drinks her blood, will become immortal as well. That's our conflict. People will do stupid things and kill each other just to become immortal (or become god-like).
Anyways, the original title of the series is called "Hi no Tori", which literally means Bird of Fire in Japanese. The Bird of Fire symbolizes sun in East Asian culture and sun is the source of life. It's highly ironical that the source of life is also the source of death. The translated title "Phoenix" isn't too far off, because there are chapters in the stories that will refer to the immortal bird as the Phoenix when the story is set in China (as that's the Chinese name for such bird).
The story transcends time. One of the chapters is about human cloning (not yet translated into English at the time of this review). Now that's something everyone should read about before one go gaga over this cloning issue that's hotly debated right now. It's about how a Reality TV show ran out of ideas, so he started this new show about clone hunting. Now, I'll let you guys read the story. Keep in mind this story is decades old. That's how ingenius this series is and no wonder Tezuka is called the God of Manga.
Major Spoiler now:
You may at some point feeling lost why Tezuka kept the stories going even though they just repeat itself despite of cosmetic changes (rather similar to life, as I see it). Well, just keep on reading to the end of the last published chapter, things become much clearer (as shift of time become narrower and therefore, more focused). The Phoenix will reveal she is sick and tired of being immortal as she will have to oversee human repeat their stupidity, doing a greedy but pointless quest. If you can see it from this way and draw a parallel to our own existence, you'd be enlightened. It's essentially the same enlightenment Buddha is trying to tell us, but Tezuka was smart enough to make another story that's easier to digest than Buddha's teaching. (btw, Tezuka also have a manga called Buddha, but that's a historical fiction about Buddha's life)
It's a masterpiece no one who is interested in humanity should miss. BTW, EmDee stands for MD. It's an in-joke made by Tezuka, because Tezuka was a medical doctor before he abandoned it to become a manga artist.