A master cartoonist and war vet details Japan's involvement in World War II
"Showa 1939" "1944: A History of Japan" continues the award-winning author Shigeru Mizuki's autobiographical and historical account of Showa-era Japan. This volume covers the final moments of the lead-up to World War II and the first few years of the Pacific War and is a chilling reminder of the harshness of life in Japan during this highly militarized epoch.
Mizuki writes affectingly about the impact on the Japanese populace of world-changing moments, including the devastating Second Sino-Japanese War, the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the first half of the Pacific War. On a personal level, these years mark a dramatic transformation in Mizuki's life, too. His idyllic childhood in the countryside comes to a definitive end when he's drafted into the army and shipped off to the tiny island of Rabaul in Papua New Guinea. His life becomes a constant struggle for survival, not only against the constant Allied attacks but against the harsh discipline of the Japanese army officers. During his time in Rabaul, Mizuki comes to understand the misery and beauty of the island itself, a place that will permanently mark him and haunt him for the rest of his life."
Translated from the Japanese by Zack Davisson.
...confirms that Shigeru Mizuki is a priceless chronicler of the major events that rocked Japan during the twentieth century...these works serve as a dire warning against the dangers of imperialism, of the consequences of choosing to fight rather than to think.
World Literature Today
Showa is a melting pot of manga style, photorealism, memoir, and narrative history.
... an unblinking recollection of one of the 20th century’s darkest periods.
Medium on SHOWA 1926-1939
Showa is literature, illustrated or not, at its finest: a story that sweeps you off your feet only to find, when you return to Earth, that nothing looks quite the same.
Los Angeles Times
By turns poignant, hilarious, harrowing, cynical, and inspiring, this work perfectly balances personal and universal elements to deliver a powerful message.
Showa goes far beyond what is often seen as the limits of manga. Mizuki deals boldly and honestly with subject matter that continues to resonate 26 years after the book's initial publication and almost 80 years after the events took place.
Indiewire on Showa
“In [Showa], legendary manga artist Mizuki draws an exaggerated, hyper-cartoony version of himself amid some of the grimmest realities of 20th Century Japan, and lets that tension work a sly, revelatory magic.”
“Shigeru Mizuki's Showa 1939–1944: A History of Japan [is] an unflinching history of the harsh realities of the war year's in Japan by a Japanese veteran.” ―Publishers Weekly Spring 2014 Top Ten
“Passionate and meticulously researched (with copious explanatory footnotes and endnotes) Showa is an astounding and sweeping epic and a must-read. It offers an indelible and engaging combination of human storyline, riveting life-and-death plot twists, historical education and passionately conveyed moral messaging on the horrors of war.” Popmatters
About the author
Born 8 March 1922, in Sakaiminato, Tottori, Japan, Shigeru Mizuki is a specialist in the stories of yokai and is considered a master of the genre. He is a member of the Japanese Society of Cultural Anthropology. He has travelled to more than sixty countries worldwide to engage in fieldwork on the yokai and spirits of different cultures. He has been published in Japan, South Korea, France, Spain, Taiwan, and Italy. His award-winning works include Kitaro, Nonnonba, and Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths. Mizuki's four-part autobiography and historical portrait Showa: A History of Japan won an Eisner Award in 2015.