The final volume in the Eisner-nominated history of Japan; one of NPR's Best Books of 2014
"Showa 1953 1989: A History of Japan" concludes Shigeru Mizuki's dazzling autobiographical and historical account of Showa-period Japan, a portrait both intimate and ranging of a defining epoch. The final volume picks up in the wake of Japan's utter defeat in World War II, as a country reduced to rubble struggles to rise again. The Korean War brings new opportunities to a nation searching for an identity.
A former enemy becomes their greatest ally as the United States funnels money, jobs, and opportunity into Japan, hoping to establish the country as a bulwark against Soviet Communist expansion. Japan reinvents itself, emerging as an economic powerhouse. Events like the Tokyo Olympiad and the World's Fair introduce a friendlier Japan to the world, but this period of peace and plenty conceals a populace still struggling to come to terms with the devastation of World War II.
During this period of recovery and reconciliation, Mizuki's struggles mirror those of the nation. He fights his way back from poverty, becoming a celebrity who is beloved by millions of manga-reading children. However, prosperity cannot bring the happiness Mizuki craves, as he struggles to find meaning in the sacrifices made during the war. The original Japanese edition of the "Showa: A History of Japan" series won Mizuki the prestigious Kodansha Manga Award; the English translation has been nominated for an Eisner Award."
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
Given the density, the understanding and the astounding portrayal via Mizuki’s mixture of simple cartooning accompanying rich backgrounds, there’s surely no better way to absorb post-war Japanese history.
Slings and Arrows
Showa is literature, illustrated or not, at its finest: a story that sweeps you off your feet only to find that nothing looks quite the same when you return to Earth.
Los Angeles Times
There's just something uncannily, well ... wise about Mizuki. In one segment, he'll be an icy judge, in another a cynical gadfly, then a daffy outcast. His drawing style varies wildly: He'll lavish detail on a jungle backdrop, then put two overtly cartoony soldiers in front of it. But he depicts Japan's military leaders with more realism, and his re-creations of actual photos of dead bodies -- both during and after the war -- are utterly sombre.”
“Drawn & Quarterly's translation of Shigeru Mizuki's historical epic Showa is perhaps the great achievement in American manga publishing this year...Mizuki's canny, self-excoriating memoir draws the reader close and into the intimate heart of the 20th century's worst conflict.”
AV Club Best Comics of 2014
“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
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 fieldwork 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.