Showa 1926-1939: A History of Japan

Although intimidating, with its doorstop size and historical focus, Showa 1926-1939: A History of Japan is surprisingly readable. I found it fast-moving, with an inviting combination of personal reminiscence and an educational approach to cultural history. This is the first of four volumes covering the entire Showa era, the reign of the Emperor Hirohito, ending in 1989. It’s chunky, over 500 pages, but there’s a lot to cover. An introduction by Frederik L. Schodt explains the background of both the […]

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NonNonBa

Guest review by Ed Sizemore Shigeru Mizuki is a cultural icon. His manga GeGeGe no Kitaro is credited with igniting the modern day fascination with Japanese folktales. Mizuki is recognized as a expert on yokai (supernatural beings) and was one of the first people to attempt to catalog all the local legends of yokai throughout Japan. He has truly helped the Japanese people connect with and appreciate their own cultural heritage. Mizuki has written works about World War II, Hitler, […]

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Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths

Guest review by Ed Sizemore Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths is the semi-autobiographical story (in the afterward, Shigeru Mizuki tells us 90% of it is true) of Japanese soldiers stationed on New Britain Island in the Papua New Guinean Archipelago during Word War II. Mizuki‚Äôs stand-in is Private Second Class Maruyama. Life on the tropical island is hard for the Japanese soldiers. They battle hunger, malaria, abusive squad leaders, and finally US fighting forces. One thing that stands out when […]

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A Drifting Life

A Drifting Life is impressive just in its size: 850+ pages about Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s life as a manga creator, from post-World War II Japan through 1960. (Some of Tatsumi’s other works, such as The Push Man and Other Stories and Abandon the Old in Tokyo, are also available in English from Drawn & Quarterly. This volume is flipped, so it can be read from left to right.) In fact, it’s intimidating. All the more so when you realize it’s already […]

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