Drawn & Quarterly’s translation of Shigeru Mizuki’s historical epic SHOWAis perhaps the great achievement in American manga publishing this year. Spanning the years from 1926 to 1989, Mizuki’s four-volume autobiography chronicles Japanese life during the lead up to and long aftermath of World War II; 1939-1944is the second book, detailing the events of the war itself. Mizuki is, to put it plainly, a lazy bum, an under-motivated student driven to apathy by his country’s doomed rush headlong into an ill-fated war. Although he avoids it as long as possible, Mizuki is eventually drafted and shipped down to the South Pacific, where he sees some of the worst fighting in the entire war. He lacks the moral resolve to be a pacifist, but he sees the uselessness of war from its outset and is ruthlessly harassed by an Imperial army machine with no tolerance for dreamers. Mizuki’s canny, self-excoriating memoir draws the reader close and into the intimate heart of the 20th century’s worst conflict.
“The best comics of 2014: Graphic novels and archival editions” / AV Club / Tim O'Neil and Oliver Sava / December 17, 2014