(1922-03-08)March 8, 1922
Osaka, Osaka Prefecture, Japan
|Died||November 30, 2015(2015-11-30) (aged 93)|
|Area(s)||Writer, penciller, inker, manga artist,|
|GeGeGe no Kitaro|
Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths
Showa: A History of Japan
Shigeru Mizuki(水木 しげる,Mizuki Shigeru, March 8, 1922 – November 30, 2015) was a Japanese manga author and historian, best known for his series GeGeGe no Kitarō (Japanese: ゲゲゲの鬼太郎, literally "spooky Kitarō") – originally titled Hakaba Kitarō (Japanese: 墓場鬼太郎, literally "Kitarō of the Graveyard") – Kappa no Sanpei, and Akuma-kun. Born in a hospital in Osaka and raised in the city of Sakaiminato in Tottori prefecture, he later moved to Chōfu, Tokyo where he remained until his death. His pen-name, Mizuki, comes from the time when he managed an inn called 'Mizuki Manor' while he drew pictures for kamishibai. A specialist in stories of Yōkai (妖怪, traditional Japanese monsters, ghouls, and goblins), he is considered a master of the genre. Mizuki was also a noted historian, publishing works relating to world history, Japanese history, and his own World War II experience.
Mizuki was born Shigeru Mura (武良 茂 Mura Shigeru) in the city of Osaka, the second of three sons. He was raised in the coastal city of Sakaminato, where he spent much of his childhood as a 'scrapper': picking fights and participating in childish warfare with the neighbouring children. He displayed from an early age a particular talent for art. During his time in elementary school, Mizuki's teachers were so impressed by his skills with a pencil that they organised an exhibition of his work, and he later went on to be featured in the Mainichi newspaper as something of an artistic prodigy. In addition to this penchant for the artistic, Mizuki had an interest in the supernatural - something that was fueled by listening to ghost stories told by a local woman named Fusa Kageyama, but whom the young Mizuki nicknamed "Nononba".
However, in 1942, he was drafted into the Imperial Japanese Army and sent to New Britain Island in Papua New Guinea. His wartime experiences affected him greatly, as he contracted malaria, watched friends die from battle wounds and disease, and dealt with other horrors of war. Finally, in an Alliedair raid, he was caught in an explosion and lost his dominant (left) arm. Regarding this life-changing event, a Nov. 30, 2015 NHK announcement of his death showed excerpts of a video interview with him at age 80, in which he said that as the only survivor of his unit, he was 'ordered to die' — a prospect he considered ridiculous. The result of Mizuki's wartime experience was a concurrent sense of pacifism and goodwill. In the same interview, he explained that his Yōkai characters can be seen only in times of peace, not war, and that he purposely created these supernatural creatures to be of no specific ethnicity or nationality as a hint of the potential for humanity. While in a Japanese field hospital on Rabaul, he was befriended by the local Tolai tribespeople, who offered him land, a home, and citizenship via marriage to one of their women. Mizuki acknowledged that he considered remaining behind, but was shamed by a military doctor into returning home to Japan first for medical treatment to his arm and to face his parents, which he did reluctantly.
Upon arriving home, Mizuki had initially planned to return to New Guinea; however, the occupation of Japan changed that. His injuries did little to help, nor did the fact that his older brother, an artillery officer, was convicted as a war criminal for having prisoners of war executed. After his return to Japan he worked at a variety of jobs including as a fish salesman and kamishibai artist.
In 1957, Mizuki released his debut work, Rocketman. He published numerous works afterwards, both dealing with the military and with yōkai. He has also written many books on both subjects, including an autobiography about his time on New Britain Island and a manga biography of Adolf Hitler. In 1991, he released a short work titled War and Japan published in The Sixth Grader, a popular edutainment magazine for young people, detailing the atrocities committed by the Japanese Army during their rampage in China and Korea and is narrated by Nezumi Otoko. The work serves as a powerful counterpoint to revisionist manga like the works of Yoshinori Kobayashi and by extension a way for Mizuki to express his anger at those responsible for all of Japan's victims. When not working in either field, he paints a number of subjects, though these works are not as well known as his literary ones which have made him a household name. In 2003, he returned to Rabaul to rekindle his friendship with the locals, who had named a road after him in his honor.
In 2005, Mizuki appeared in a cameo role in Yōkai Daisenso ("The Great Yokai War") directed by Takashi Miike, a film about Yōkai inspired by his work as well as the work of Aramata Hiroshi. He appears towards the end of the film in the role of the Great Elder Yōkai: a pacifistic character who condemns the warring ways of the film's antagonist and reaffirms the role of Yōkai as peaceful, playful creatures. A brief explanation about his works also is mentioned in the film. In 2010, NHK broadcast an asadora about his married life, Gegege no Nyōbō, based on his wife's autobiography.
On November 30, 2015, Shigeru Mizuki died of heart failure in a Tokyo hospital after collapsing at his home from a heart attack.
Sakaiminato, Mizuki's childhood home, has a street dedicated to the ghosts and monsters that appear in his stories. One hundred bronze statues of the story's characters line both sides of the road. There is also a museum featuring several of his creations and works.
Mizuki has won numerous awards and accolades for his works, especially GeGeGe no Kitaro. Among these are:
- Mizuki, Shigeru. 水木しげるの日本妖怪めぐり (Hepburn: Mizuki Shigeru no Nihon Yōkai Meguri, lit. "Shigeru Mizuki's Ghosts and Demons".)
- Rabauru Senki (Memories of Rabaul)
- Mizuki, Shigeru. "Graphic World of Japanese Phantoms". 講談社, 1985. ISBN 978-4-06-202381-8 (4-06-202381-4)
- ^ abcde"The Life and Death of Shigeru Mizuki, 1922-2015 The Comics Journal". www.tcj.com. Retrieved 2016-01-08.
- ^ abcOtake, Tomoko (February 6, 2005). "Drawing on experience". The Japan Times. Retrieved March 16, 2014.
- ^Mizuki, Shigeru (2014). Showa 1944-1953: A History of Japan. Showa: A History of Japan. 3. Drawn & Quarterly Publications. p. 284. ISBN 978-1-77046-162-8.
- ^Penney, Matthew (September 21, 2008). "War and Japan: The Non-Fiction Manga of Mizuki Shigeru". The Asia-Pacific Journal. Japan Focus. Retrieved December 1, 2015.
- ^Haunted Travelogue: Hometowns, Ghost Towns, and Memories of War on JSTOR. JSTOR 41510934.
- ^"Kitaro, NonNonBâ Manga Creator Shigeru Mizuki Passes Away". Anime News Network. November 29, 2015. Retrieved December 1, 2015.
- ^Joel Hahn. "Kodansha Manga Awards". Comic Book Awards Almanac. Archived from the original on August 16, 2007. Retrieved August 21, 2007.
- ^"Shigeru Hall to Open". Anime News Network. March 3, 2003. Retrieved February 13, 2013.
- ^"2003 Tezuka Award Winners". Anime News Network. April 24, 2003. Retrieved February 13, 2013.
- ^"Non Non Ba to Ore Wins "Best Comic Book" Award". Anime News Network. August 2, 2007. Retrieved February 13, 2013.
- ^"Nobelists Suzuki, Negishi get Order of Culture". The Japan Times. October 27, 2010. Retrieved December 1, 2015.
- ^"About Me". 百物語怪談会 Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai. Retrieved 2016-01-07.
- ^"The Origin of Death Note?". ComiPress. January 8, 2007. Retrieved December 1, 2015.
- ^"Tsugumi Ohba Talks about Inspiration for Death Note and Justice". ComiPress. January 15, 2007. Retrieved December 1, 2015.
- "Drawing from Experience", Japan Times, February 6, 2005, retrieved March 22, 2012.
- Mizuki Production Official Website
- Sakaiminato: The town where you can meet Kitaro
- Shigeru Mizuki Road, Shigeru Mizuki Museum, photos
- Japan Focus: War and Japan: The Non-Fiction Manga of Mizuki Shigeru
- Thompson, Jason (May 3, 2013). "Jason Thompson's House of 1000 Manga Shigeru Mizuki". Anime News Network.
When manga artist Shigeru Mizuki died last week, news sources not just in Japan, but all around the world – New York Times, Wall Street Journal, BBC, Reuters, and numerous others – published articles about his life and work. Mizuki had been involved in creating manga since the 1950’s, but it is only relatively recently that his work began appearing in English. Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths (originally published in Japanese in 1973) received a “Best U.S. Edition of International Material – Asia” Eisner award in 2012, Nonnonba and Showa 1926-1939: A History of Japan, were nominated in 2013 and last year, and earlier this year, the next two volumes in the non-fiction series, Showa 1939–1944 and Showa 1944–1953again won in the category.
So far, Mizuki’s work has received only a small amount of scholarly attention – certainly compared to the number of academic publications on Hayao Miyazaki and Osamu Tezuka. Why this is so is a valid question. Obviously, Mizuki is still largely unfamiliar to Western audiences. In addition, the few works of his that have been translated differ significantly in their style and subject matter from most other manga available in the West, so it is plain-out hard to analyze them comparatively. In fact, I would argue that the most direct way to approach Mizuki’s writing would be to de-emphasize the manga aspect of his work, and to read him alongside authors like Erich-Maria Remarque, Gunther Grass, and Yuriy Bondarev – writers for whom the War (whether the First World War or the Second) was the defining event of their lives and the single event that directed their entire careers. It is no surprise, for example, that Christina Knopf includes Mizuki’s work in her survey The Comic Art of War: A Critical Study of Military Cartoons, 1805-2014 (McFarland, 2015).
So, as I have already done for Miyazaki, Mamoru Oshii, Satoshi Kon, and Makoto Shinkai, and as I am in the process of doing for Osamu Tezuka, I would like to begin compiling a bibliography of English-language academic writing on Shigeru Mizuki. The entries in it are drawn from items that are already included in the Annual Bibliography of Anime and Manga Studies, and correspond books, chapters in edited collections, and articles in academic/scholarly journals that discuss Mizuki’s life and work extensively. I am, of course, aware of other academic publications that mention Mizuki in passing or include discussions of his work – an example is the essay “Early modern past to postmodern future: Changing discourses of Japanese monsters”, in The Ashgate Research Companion to Monsters and the Monstrous (Ashgate, 2013) – so this bibliography is selective, rather than comprehensive. It is also a work in progress, and will be updated continuously as I identify new items to add. Any new additions will be reflected on a separate page, not in this post.
Shigeru Mizuki: A Bibliography of English-Language Scholarship
Olutokun, Deji Bryce. The Showa masterwork of manga pioneer Shigeru Mizuki. World Literature Today, 89(3/4), 24-28.
Berndt, Jaqueline. Ghostly: ‘Asian graphic narratives,’ Nonnonba, and manga. In Daniel Stein & Jan-Noel Thon (Eds.), From comic strips to graphic novels: Contributions to the theory and history of graphic narrative (pp. 363-384). Berlin: De Gruyter.
Shamoon, Deborah. The yōkai in the database: Supernatural creatures and folklore in manga and anime. Marvels & Tales, 27(2), 276-289.
“I consider the Japanese anime and manga narratives Gegege no Kitarō by Mizuki Shigeru and Inuyasha by Takahashi Rumiko, which draw on Japanese folklore, and discuss how they reinterpret supernatural creatures, or yōkai, for a modern audience. Since the Edo period (1603–1867), yōkai have been presented in encyclopedic format. Mizuki, through manga, has continued and enhanced that approach to yōkai discourse. The encyclopedic format has made the yōkai easily assimilable not only into modern culture alongside more recently invented cartoon characters, but also into manga and anime, such as Inuyasha. This speaks to the power and creative possibility of the yōkai database. There is a striking similarity between the database of yōkai and the database approach to narrative that Azuma Hiroki describes as an identifying trait of otaku consumption of manga and anime. I argue that database creation and consumption is not a recent development, nor is it unique to otaku. The database is one way to talk about both anime and yōkai more productively and to expand the ways we talk about how texts are produced and consumed.”
Suzuki, Shige. Learning from monsters: Mizuki Shigeru’s yokai and war manga. Image [&] Narrative, 12(1), 229-244.
“This paper first attempts to identify and explore the thematic and formalistic continuity of his manga by illustrating his lived life and career as a cartoonist. Mizuki has an experience of drawing paintings and comics in various mediums in the course of the development of postwar Japanese comics, which stylistically distinguishes him from other postwar story manga creators. By situating his life in wartime and post-war periods of Japanese history, I will bring his aesthetics, philosophy, and nuanced critique of society to the surface. Featuring anti-heroic and grotesque human and non-human characters as main protagonists, Mizuki’s manga demonstrates a critique of wartime imperialism and postwar Japanese society, both of which seemed to him to be suppressive and dehumanizing. As a whole, I argue that the preferred use of premodern cultural traditions and unique aesthetic components epitomize not merely a nostalgic longing for a disappearing Japanese tradition in the progress of rapid modernization, but also his utopian cosmology, which critically addresses the alienated condition of modern human life.”
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Foster, Michael Dylan. Haunted travelogue: Hometowns, ghost towns, and memories of war. Mechademia, 4, 164-181.
Foster, Michael Dylan. The otherworlds of Mizuki Shigeru. Mechademia, 3, 8-28.
[ed. note: The author incorporated much of this article into a chapter in Pandemonium and Parade: Japanese Monsters and the Culture of Yokai, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2008]
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Penney, Matthew. War and Japan: The non-fiction manga of Mizuki Shigeru. The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus.
Rosenbaum, Roman. Mizuki Shigeru’s Pacific War. International Journal of Comic Art, 10(2), 354-379.