Showa is a melting pot of manga style, photo realism, memoir, and narrative history.PopMatters
A fascinating period in Japanese history explored by a master of manga
Showa 1926-1939: A History of Japan is the first volume of Shigeru Mizuki’s meticulously researched historical portrait of twentieth century Japan. This volume deals with the period leading up to World War II, a time of high unemployment and other economic hardships caused by the Great Depression. Mizuki’s photo-realist style effortlessly brings to life Japan of the 1920s and 1930s, depicting bustling city streets and abandoned graveyards with equal ease.
When the Showa Era began, Mizuki himself was just a few years old, so his earliest memories coincide with the earliest events of the Era. With his trusty narrator Rat Man, Mizuki brings history into the realm of the personal, making it palatable, and indeed compelling, for young audiences as well as more mature readers. As he describes the militarization that leads up to World War II, Mizuki’s stance toward war is thoughtful and often downright critical – his portrayal of the Nanjing Massacre clearly paints the incident (a disputed topic within Japan) as an atrocity. Mizuki’s Showa 1926-1939 is a beautifully told history that tracks how technological developments and the country’s shifting economic stability had a role in shaping Japan’s foreign policy in the early twentieth century.
Praise for Showa 1926–1939
... an unblinking recollection of one of the 20th century’s darkest periods.Medium on SHOWA 1926-1939
Mizuki’s disinclination to whitewash the darker side of the human condition out of even his children’s fare makes him more like a Japanese Vonnegut ... Like the immortal yokai themselves, [Mizuki's voice] lives on.Matt Alt, The New Yorker
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
By turns poignant, hilarious, harrowing, cynical, and inspiring, this work perfectly balances personal and universal elements to deliver a powerful message.Library Journal
Showa goes far beyond what are often seen as the limits of manga. Mizuki deals boldly and honestly with subject matter that continues to resonate 26 years after the book's initial publication and almost 80 years after the events took place.Indiewire on Showa