Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Showa: A History of Japan by Shigeru Mizuki

SHOWA: 1926-1939
GN M6996k1:E
Shigeru Mizuki

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 the 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 time. 

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.

SHOWA: 1944-1953
GN M6996k3:E
Shigeru Mizuki
A sweeping yet intimate portrait of the legacy of World War II in Japan

Showa 1944–1953: A History of Japan continues the award-winning author Shigeru Mizuki’s autobiographical and historical account of the Showa period in Japan. This volume recounts the events of the final years of the Pacific War, and the consequences of the war's devastation for Mizuki and the Japanese populace at large.

     After the surprise attack at Pearl Harbor, Japan and the United States are officially at war. The two rival navies engage in a deadly game of feint and thrust, waging a series of microwars across the tiny Pacific islands. From Guadalcanal to Okinawa, Japan slowly loses ground. Finally, the United States unleashes the deathblow with a new and terrible weapon—the atomic bomb. The fallout from the bombs is beyond imagining.

     On another front, Showa 1944–1953 traces Mizuki’s own life story across history’s sweeping changes during this period, charting the impact of the war’s end on his life choices. After losing his arm during the brutal fighting, Mizuki struggles to decide where to go: whether to remain on the island as an honored friend of the local Tolai people or return to the rubble of Japan and take up his dream of becoming a cartoonist. Showa 1944–1953 is a searing condemnation of the personal toll of war from one of Japan’s most famous cartoonists.

SHOWA: 1953-1989
GN M6996k4:E
Shigeru Mizuki

Showa 1953–1989: A History of Japan concludes Shigeru Mizuki's dazzling autobiographical and historical account of Showa-period Japan, a portrait both intimate and ranging of a defining epoch. The final volume picks up in the wake of Japan's utter defeat in World War II, as a country reduced to rubble struggles to rise again. The Korean War brings new opportunities to a nation searching for an identity.

A former enemy becomes their greatest ally as the United States funnels money, jobs, and opportunity into Japan, hoping to establish the country as a bulwark against Soviet Communist expansion. Japan reinvents itself, emerging as an economic powerhouse. Events like the Tokyo Olympiad and the World's Fair introduce a friendlier Japan to the world, but this period of peace and plenty conceals a populace still struggling to come to terms with the devastation of World War II.

During this period of recovery and reconciliation, Mizuki's struggles mirror those of the nation. He fights his way back from poverty, becoming a celebrity who is beloved by millions of manga-reading children. However, prosperity cannot bring the happiness Mizuki craves, as he struggles to find meaning in the sacrifices made during the war.
The original Japanese edition of the Showa: A History of Japan series won Mizuki the prestigious Kodansha Manga Award; the English translation has been nominated for an Eisner Award.

(from publisher)

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