The Globe and Mail enjoys ONWARD TOWARDS OUR NOBLE DEATHS

“Three new books worth a look” / The Globe and Mail / The Globe and Mail / July 1, 2011

Shigeru Mizuki is one of Japan's greatest illustrators, a master of both realism and manga. This, his first book rendered into English, is a powerful anti-war document. Combining cartoonish drawings of men with naturalistic ones of landscape and mayhem, Mizuki crafts a fictionalized memoir based on his experience as a draftee in Japan's Imperial Army in 1943. The setting is the South Pacific island of Rabaul, now Papua New Guinea, where we follow the fate of a battalion of men as they come under onslaught from vastly superior U.S. forces. The results are both comic and grim, vulgar and affecting. The entire book is spent in the company of individuals longing for home and real food and the comfort of women, while their arrogant commanders urge them on to suicide missions. Mizuki's affection for ordinary grunts is clear on every page; his disdain for their "superiors" palpable.

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