Mizuki, Shigeru (text & illus.). Showa 1926–1939: A History of Japan. Drawn & Quarterly. 2013. 560p. tr. from Japanese by Zack Davisson. ISBN 9781770461352. pap. $24.95. MANGA
This massive manga history earned Mizuki (NonNonBa; Onward Toward Our Noble Death; Kitaro) the Kodansha Award in 1989. Here, he presents two parallel story lines: a meticulously researched chronology of the events leading up to Japan’s entry into the World War II and the memories of his youth during the era. As the focus of the narrative shifts, so, too, does the art, from highly realistic scenes of political and military events to an expressive, cartoony style when looking at the lives of ordinary people. As if these shifts in tone weren’t enough, Mizuki’s iconic Kitaro character Nezumi Otoko steps in periodically to expand on the background and impact of certain major events. This approach may sound disjointed, but the end result is much, much more than the sum of its parts. By turns poignant, hilarious, harrowing, cynical, and inspiring, this work perfectly balances personal and universal elements to deliver a powerful message. Originally published in eight volumes, the first two are collected here.
Verdict A remarkable work that will make a lasting impression on readers; essential for most manga collections and highly recommended for readers of World War II–era histories and memoirs.—Neil Derksen, Pierce Cty. Lib. Syst., Tacoma