"The Crater" was a short series that Tezuka ran in Shonen Champion from 1969 to 1970. It consisted of 17 stand-alone episodes that were collected into 3 volumes (actually, there have been 3 different editions printed. One edition had 17 chapters in 3 volumes, the other was 14 chapters in 2 volumes, and the third was 19 chapters in 2 volumes. So, one edition is missing 3 stories, and the other has 2 filler stories added.)
I'd mentioned The Crater back in the introduction to "Don Dracula" but I'll talk about it a bit more here. Essentially, it's Tezuka's take on Rod Serling's "The Twilight Zone", where a somewhat normal setting is twisted into a "what-if" scenario and then given an unexpected ending. Examples include a girl trapped in a dead-end life in Chicago; a Japanese chemist working on a bio-weapon for the U.S. army that is visited by a ghost; a school student that takes on odd-jobs to raise money for hospital care for a girl that's a victim of atomic bomb radiation poisoning only to be possessed by her spirit; and a water conduit that lets people travel through time.
The specific story that I'm tackling here for the "Learning Japanese by Translating Manga" blog is "The Three Invaders". I'll let the story speak for itself, so I won't describe it here. However, the reason I want to translate it is a specific in-joke that relates to some of the other work I've been doing.
I've gotten interested in the history of manga, in part because of a book I received as a present. The book lists the first 20 winners of the Tokyo International Animation Festival's (TAF) Award of Merit, which honors the most influential people in the anime industry (many of whom were manga artists). As I tried to learn more about these people, I started running into the same names over and over again in other settings, such as the "Shonen Sunday/Shonen Magazine DNA" exhibit for their 50th anniversary celebrations, and as members of Tezuka's staff at Tokiwa Manor at the beginning of the 1950's. Inadvertently, I found a second connection in the "Kuru Kuru Kurin" manga by Tori Miki, which ran in Shonen Champion magazine in July for their 40th anniversary.
Turns out that manga artists like to give shout-outs to each other, and that's what Tezuka did in "The Three Invaders", back around 1969. A similar shout-out occurs in Fujio (A) Fujiko's "Black Humor" series.
Anyway, submitted for your approval, three invaders that discover that their target is not such an easy nut to crack after all...