The Quietus reviews Showa 1944-1953

“Behold! January's Quietus Comics Round Up Column ” / The Quietus / Aug Stone / January 24, 2015

Shigeru Mizuki continues his history of the Showa period of Japan in this sprawling 500+ page work. The scope is vast, as both Mizuki's personal saga and Japan's role in the world at large are shredded through the tail end of the devastating war to its difficult-to-say-the-least rebuilding in the post-war years. He offers firsthand accounts of what life was like in his country - degrees of wreckage that most foreigners might not be aware of, daily life made all the more grim by bad decisions leaders made in the name of honour. Rampant starvation, homelessness, poverty. He recounts these through his alterego of Rat Man, a loveable character who pops his head in and provides us with the details. Mizuki's own struggles include wandering for days without eating or sleeping whilst avoiding being captured by the enemy, finally contracting malaria and eventually losing an arm. This, however, didn't stop him from helping to found manga and becoming one of Japan's most respected artists. He also touches on the interesting Japanese belief in supernatural beings (yokai), whose seeming intervention at a time of supernatural exhaustion saved Mizuki's life. The twists and turns his post-war life lead him down, whilst challenging, are not without amusing incidents such as his being asked to join a secret society who haven't decided what they are even about yet. And though the husk of that society was shed quite early on, it was an essential element in his finding work and eventually getting to art school. 

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