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Showa 1953-1989: A History of Japan

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The final volume in the Eisner-nominated history of Japan 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 ri The final volume in the Eisner-nominated history of Japan 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.


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The final volume in the Eisner-nominated history of Japan 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 ri The final volume in the Eisner-nominated history of Japan 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.

30 review for Showa 1953-1989: A History of Japan

  1. 4 out of 5

    Dave Schaafsma

    Five stars for the epic achievement of four tomes covering the Showa period of Japanese history, both intimate and epic. Four stars for this volume, maybe, as it zips through 36 largely uninteresting years, from1953-1989, the post-WWII years, the time of economic recovery and boom. The pace of this one and its focus on sensational news events and economic upturn makes it not as riveting as the war volumes, of course. This work overall is a personal, idiosyncratic view of history, and Mizuki’s tak Five stars for the epic achievement of four tomes covering the Showa period of Japanese history, both intimate and epic. Four stars for this volume, maybe, as it zips through 36 largely uninteresting years, from1953-1989, the post-WWII years, the time of economic recovery and boom. The pace of this one and its focus on sensational news events and economic upturn makes it not as riveting as the war volumes, of course. This work overall is a personal, idiosyncratic view of history, and Mizuki’s take on things is never boring, often comical. But the sometimes mundane subject matter gives Mizuki an opportunity to shift to a memoir of Mizuki’s rise as manga-ka, which happened over this period, and is great to read about. This volume includes as usual copious notes, a collection of all the great color pages done for the initial Japanese release, and a final, passionate reflection on the overall history of the period. The main thrust of Mizuki’s story overall is pacifist, anti-militarist--he nearly died in the South Pacific as a draftee solider there. He concludes: "It's necessary to learn from the past, to not repeat the same mistakes. And to never forget it was real! This actually happened to us!" This pretty gentle, man-on-the street tone pervades the series, making the sweep of history personal. Overall comics masterpiece, for sure.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jon Nakapalau

    Perfect example of the hidden potential of GN to educate. This series has set the bar high...I hope to see a similar series for all countries involved in WW II.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Sherriff

    This is the last in the four-volume manga history of Japan under Emperor Hirohito expertly translated by Zack Davisson, and as you'd expect, wraps up with some personal conclusions from Mizuki (who died just a few weeks ago at the age of 93). And those conclusions are that for Japan and Mizuki, millions of brave ordinary people sacrificed their lives "for the empty words of loyalty and patriotism." If I may quote from the end of the book: "There is no individual, only country." But it was individ This is the last in the four-volume manga history of Japan under Emperor Hirohito expertly translated by Zack Davisson, and as you'd expect, wraps up with some personal conclusions from Mizuki (who died just a few weeks ago at the age of 93). And those conclusions are that for Japan and Mizuki, millions of brave ordinary people sacrificed their lives "for the empty words of loyalty and patriotism." If I may quote from the end of the book: "There is no individual, only country." But it was individuals who received those death sentences called draft notices. We were supposed to be proud to die for our country. Scattered across the world for a country that cared nothing for us. For good or evil, our country was utterly defeated by a foreign power. The military was a kind of cancer removed by the surgery of war... I can't deny that Japan is better off than we were. We're an economic powerhouse. But it seems like companies are benefitting more than individual workers. The average office worker slaves away to pay his bills. Is that happiness? The brotherhood of humanity... it's a treasure money can't buy. Japan's drive for success and efficiency has commoditized humanity. We are uniform and disposable again. It's strange... no matter how much wealth people accumulate, they'll never know the richness of life in places like this (the jungles of Papua New Guinea where Mizuki was stationed in the war) While the other volumes in the series covered the momentous events of the war, this one was fascinating about the struggles of ordinary Japanese in the post-war period as well as Mizuki's personal rise in prominence in the manga world. Highly recommended for anyone interested in understanding Japan, manga and 20th Century world history.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Stewart Tame

    In some ways, this is the weakest volume of the series. Mizuki has a 36 year span to cover, the largest of the four volumes in this series. While his own personal life may have been less fraught with incident during this period--basically, his entire manga career happened, so, initial struggling for recognition aside, he spent a good deal of this time at the drawing board--there is still a great deal of Japanese history to cover. So this book, at times, feels like Mizuki is rushing to pack as mu In some ways, this is the weakest volume of the series. Mizuki has a 36 year span to cover, the largest of the four volumes in this series. While his own personal life may have been less fraught with incident during this period--basically, his entire manga career happened, so, initial struggling for recognition aside, he spent a good deal of this time at the drawing board--there is still a great deal of Japanese history to cover. So this book, at times, feels like Mizuki is rushing to pack as much in as possible, and detail and nuance suffer. The conclusion is nicely handled, though, and the book is rounded out with the usual notes section, and a reprinting of the color pages done for this series' initial Japanese release. All in all, this has been an excellent series, even if the final volume feels a tad rushed in places. Shigeru Mizuki is one of Japan's manga greats, and having his work available in English is a real pleasure.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Phrodrick

    Shigeru Mizuke’ Showa 1953 to 1989 is the last of his multi volume graphic history/autobiography. In this English language edition he covers the period of Emperor Hirohito and his life in 4 volumes. Of the 4 this one is the most personal and the most introspective as he thinks upon his life and the transformation of Japan from an emerging modern society into a warring nation and now into a fully modern country. As a standalone it is better than the previous editions. He is most open about himsel Shigeru Mizuke’ Showa 1953 to 1989 is the last of his multi volume graphic history/autobiography. In this English language edition he covers the period of Emperor Hirohito and his life in 4 volumes. Of the 4 this one is the most personal and the most introspective as he thinks upon his life and the transformation of Japan from an emerging modern society into a warring nation and now into a fully modern country. As a standalone it is better than the previous editions. He is most open about himself and his personal journey as a struggling manga artist into the struggles of commercial success. He also takes us deeper into his imagination and aspirations as he shares with us his belief in a world of yokai (Traditional Japanese Spirits monsters and spirits) and because he takes us his dreams of death and his refuge with the people who saved his life as a wounded and abandoned Japanese Soldier in World War II. The book is also better than this earlier ones because of the inclusion of about 60 pages of full color illustrations that also summarize the entire history. I had admired his art work in black and white, the color illustrations are magnificent. Looking at the entire series, a stated goal of this project was to help younger Japanese to better understand how Japan lead itself into 15 years of war. Japan’s World War II began because its civil government never had any control of its military nor any limits on it most Nationalistic elements. The results of this war was one of the most complete and systematic destructions of a nation since the Romans sowed salt into the fields of Carthage. Absent these elements, post war Japan would become one of the most modern and admired nations in the world. Too much of Mizuki’s history consists of the mentions of political leaders, major events and major scandals. Rarely is there any analysis or context for the events. His history lessons are too often of the “on this date this thing happened to this person” and no explanation as to why the reader should care or how that event fit into the larger flow of Japanese history. He is somewhat critical of America’s use of Japan as a base and provider for first the Cold War and later the Viet Nam War. He also makes it clear that Japan’s status as America’ ally, an ally without the costs of a large military, fueled much of its post war economy and therefore the Japanese economic miracle. Given: How margin his personal life was as a child and how hard life was for his parents and his community How badly the county was run while under the threats of the ultra-nationalists How terribly Japan suffered during and by the end of the war(s) initiated by the Japanese militarists It is hard to make sense of his nostalgia for the loss of Japanese’s traditions under the gathering forces of modernization. He has an almost morbid fondness for scandal and murder as proof of something lost in modern Japan. Yet he never made a case for why those traditions had made the older Japan any better. Indeed his earlier books also recount a number of scandals, murders and assassinations. Politics by political murder seem to be an abiding tradition in old and new Japan. Mizuki has no ink to justify either. Non Fiction Manga is a small field. It has a few counter parts in western Graphic books. Of the few I have read this is a sub category worth reading and Mizuki‘s Kodansha Manga award and the American Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards for the Showa books were very well earned.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Tobias

    My favorite volume of the series, largely because while there is an abundance of good stories about prewar and wartime Japan, less has been said about life in prosperous, high-growth half of Showa. Mizuki shows that even as Japan boomed, the benefits took a long time to raise everyone up. Of course, as a Japanese politics otaku, I was also interested in what "high politics" events merited inclusion in his narrative (the Lockheed scandal, the 1960 treaty demonstrations, the evolution of the Japan My favorite volume of the series, largely because while there is an abundance of good stories about prewar and wartime Japan, less has been said about life in prosperous, high-growth half of Showa. Mizuki shows that even as Japan boomed, the benefits took a long time to raise everyone up. Of course, as a Japanese politics otaku, I was also interested in what "high politics" events merited inclusion in his narrative (the Lockheed scandal, the 1960 treaty demonstrations, the evolution of the Japanese left). Ultimately, this quote really says it all: "It's necessary to learn from the past, to not repeat the same mistakes. And to never forget it was real! This actually happened to us!"

  7. 4 out of 5

    Greg

    A good end to an impressive series. Mizuki's descriptions of Japan's recovery after the war and the lack of opportunity facing most Japanese, as well as his acknowledgement of the crimes of the past and their continuation into the present - both against the countries Japan invaded and the Japanese themselves - make these volumes a worthwhile introduction to a discussion of the Second World War. A good end to an impressive series. Mizuki's descriptions of Japan's recovery after the war and the lack of opportunity facing most Japanese, as well as his acknowledgement of the crimes of the past and their continuation into the present - both against the countries Japan invaded and the Japanese themselves - make these volumes a worthwhile introduction to a discussion of the Second World War.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sasha Boersma

    Incredible collection of Japan's history during a turbulent time : rebuilding after the wars, the battle between socialism and capitalism, and trying to live. It's a very different Japan than the Western world knows today, and surprising very similar to what the west experienced in the same era. Beautifully done. Huge book - expect it to take some time to get through. Incredible collection of Japan's history during a turbulent time : rebuilding after the wars, the battle between socialism and capitalism, and trying to live. It's a very different Japan than the Western world knows today, and surprising very similar to what the west experienced in the same era. Beautifully done. Huge book - expect it to take some time to get through.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Andre

    I loved this series on the Showa period in Japan. I found the mix of didactic history, popular history, man-on-the-street-view and personal biography to be enjoyable and I feel I learned a lot about Japan. I loved the visuals and felt that the earlier volumes were the best.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Michael Scott

    Showa: a History of Japan is mangaka Shigeru Mizuki 's memoir and history lesson. In this installment, the story covers the period 1953-1989, plus a few years before and after. This manga is a masterpiece, and you should read it. I have started with this installment, rather than the series' s chronological order, for several reasons. First, 1989 concludes the Showa period, when the old Japanese emperor dies, and starts the Heisei period, of a new Japanese emperor. This allows the author to refle Showa: a History of Japan is mangaka Shigeru Mizuki 's memoir and history lesson. In this installment, the story covers the period 1953-1989, plus a few years before and after. This manga is a masterpiece, and you should read it. I have started with this installment, rather than the series' s chronological order, for several reasons. First, 1989 concludes the Showa period, when the old Japanese emperor dies, and starts the Heisei period, of a new Japanese emperor. This allows the author to reflect back in the entire Showa period, and describe important lessons and raise important questions. Second, the period 1953-1989 covers the transition of Japan from a starving, destroyed country, to an evonomic superpower. Third, I am much more familiar with the why 1980s,so I can judge much better the views expressed by the author about the international political events of the period. Fourth, I am not sure how much of World War II is still seen in the Japan of today. The story is chunked into small periods of time, marked by important political, economic, and cultural events. The life of Shigeru Mizuki takes the backstage, and is perhaps more an illustration of how the common Japanese people might have lived their personal dramas and successes than a real memoir. The manga is extraordinary, the mature skill of the drawings mixing very well with the text (excellent translation by Zack Davisson). The drawings include elements of great difficulty, such as the fisheye views of streets in Tokyo and action shots involving Japanese celebrities, but are never overwhelming. The book also includes a number of colored pages printed on matte paper, at the end. They are very, very good. The text is wise and deep, despite the heavy topics, the superstitious turns, and the frequent slices of garbage news. If anything, the effect is cathartic: the reader feels a warm camaraderie with Shugi-kun and a sense of belonging in the great events of history. The text is often comical, but moments of inspired analysis abound. Shigeru on reaching the second half of his life, on the sense of work burden, on the meaning of happiness are interesting moments. The end, which includes an analysis of Showa, is a bit preachy, but never self righteous. Shigeru pardons the emperor and then analyzes. Reading his manga, I felt the same as when I reflect back on the Communist regime in Romania: not with hatred, but with sadness for so many people's lives being ruined, with a little sorrow for my own losses, and with a strong desire to not let such a horror happen ever again. Ok, I've said enough. It's your turn to read this manga.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    This last book of Mizuki's thick n' thorough Showa comic opus is perhaps the heaviest of the series in that it bears the weight of the three volumes that precede it. Corresponding to the reign of the Emperor Hirohito, the series presents a whirlwind chronicle of Japan before and after the "Fifteen Years War" without prejudice, including Mizuki's own autobiographical account of the times, in manga form. It is brutal yet humorous, solemn yet cheerful, panoptic yet very, very personal. I recommend This last book of Mizuki's thick n' thorough Showa comic opus is perhaps the heaviest of the series in that it bears the weight of the three volumes that precede it. Corresponding to the reign of the Emperor Hirohito, the series presents a whirlwind chronicle of Japan before and after the "Fifteen Years War" without prejudice, including Mizuki's own autobiographical account of the times, in manga form. It is brutal yet humorous, solemn yet cheerful, panoptic yet very, very personal. I recommend these books for anyone interested in Japanese history, especially for folks who seek to learn more about WWII from the perspective of a Japanese draftee. Zack Davisson's English translations for Drawn & Quarterly are meticulous and respectful of cultural context, offering more than just a historical recount told by an artist who considers himself an exemplary "Showa" man. On a personal note, I find this series to be of special significance because it offers a glimpse into Mizuki's own obsession with the South Pacific that came of his barely surviving an incredibly hostile tour of duty in Papua New Guinea. The subject of American soldiers returning from the Pacific theatre helping to proliferate the "tiki craze" that swept the U.S. after WWII is much covered by books that chronicle the Tiki culture movement, but I've yet to encounter any similar stories concerning Imperial Japanese military personnel. Mizuki's "Southern Sickness" as he calls it, is as close an account as I have yet to find, and very engaging besides.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kaleb

    The last two books of the Showa series were amazing. I feel like I have a new understanding of how Japan got to where it is today. I feel like I can emphasize better with old people (I'm 20) who have lived through WW2. But seriously, this current generation is really so lucky to be where we are today. I learned a lot from Mizuki's reflections towards the last half of this book. I could emphasize and see myself in him when he describes trying to make it and find happiness in the new Japan after t The last two books of the Showa series were amazing. I feel like I have a new understanding of how Japan got to where it is today. I feel like I can emphasize better with old people (I'm 20) who have lived through WW2. But seriously, this current generation is really so lucky to be where we are today. I learned a lot from Mizuki's reflections towards the last half of this book. I could emphasize and see myself in him when he describes trying to make it and find happiness in the new Japan after the war. It scares me to think how I may come to have regrets in my life in 60yrs when I look back on my life as Mizuki does here. It really made me think. And that's how you know this is book is truly good. It has the ability to change me in the real world

  13. 4 out of 5

    RC

    Magnificent, intimate, sweeping, educational, beautiful, and deeply moving. A majestic example of this medium at its most powerful. It's the kind of work that changes what you think literature and history can be. Magnificent, intimate, sweeping, educational, beautiful, and deeply moving. A majestic example of this medium at its most powerful. It's the kind of work that changes what you think literature and history can be.

  14. 4 out of 5

    mica

    This series of books is incredible. I did find it a bit of a challenge to wrap my head around reading right to left sometimes, but the absolute density of these books, as well as mixture of personal and global history is incredible. Specifically, this particular volume threw information and history at the reader with an almost overwhelming pace, but I sincerely enjoyed reading about Mizuki's struggles to establish himself as a successful artist, and thereafter the struggle of maintaining that su This series of books is incredible. I did find it a bit of a challenge to wrap my head around reading right to left sometimes, but the absolute density of these books, as well as mixture of personal and global history is incredible. Specifically, this particular volume threw information and history at the reader with an almost overwhelming pace, but I sincerely enjoyed reading about Mizuki's struggles to establish himself as a successful artist, and thereafter the struggle of maintaining that success. This would be, perhaps, the part of Japanese history that I know (and knew) the least about, and it was a satisfying conclusion to this massive series. I do question the English publication's decision to publish without the colour pages interspersed through out, but instead collected at the end of the final volume. I understand that this would have greatly increased the cost of the edition, but some the art (and some of these pages in particular) did not translate brilliantly to the black and white, and some images would have been easier to read with colour. After finishing the final volume, I will say that I don't think this series is (or should be) immune to criticism, however, - there were a few things notably left out or glossed over (the Japanese army's use of sexual slavery was the big thing - particularly since there is still very little recognition for what these women went through), and some of Mizuki's depictions of women were a bit grating to me (I'm not a fan of beautified women-on-a-pedestal character design, especially when Mizuki's male characters all had such interesting and varied looks). That said, on the whole, the amount of names and history this series lobs at the reader is already a little overwhelming and the writing, drawing and research for this book must have been a herculean task. It is also worth noting that this is, despite its vast scope, a personal history, rather than an academic history, and you get the sense that what Mizuki lobs at you is what stood and what stands out for him most. Again, however, I think that this was an amazing series, and well worth the read, particularly from the western perspective, since we don't often learn about the specifics of what was happening in Asia during the 1930s and 1940s in North America. It's certainly an abridged history, but it's a much different perspective than I'm used to, and still very critical of Japan's war crimes (it is not particularly revisionist or forgiving to the Japanese army's actions).

  15. 4 out of 5

    Devon

    As I started the final volume of Showa, I was overcome by a sense of melancholy. My journey, following Shigeru Mizuki through the Showa era was coming to an end. Here, we see Shigeru finally attain success and the new set of challenges that entails. With stability comes the opportunity for reflection, both on Shigeru's life and the undertaking of Showa: A History of Japan itself. There are no exciting battle illustrations, but there are lots of interesting vistas of Japan's developing skylines. I As I started the final volume of Showa, I was overcome by a sense of melancholy. My journey, following Shigeru Mizuki through the Showa era was coming to an end. Here, we see Shigeru finally attain success and the new set of challenges that entails. With stability comes the opportunity for reflection, both on Shigeru's life and the undertaking of Showa: A History of Japan itself. There are no exciting battle illustrations, but there are lots of interesting vistas of Japan's developing skylines. It's hard to rate what's essentially a very long epilogue, but looking at the series as a whole, it's a simply monumental work that gives new insight into the modern state of Japan and its struggles with modernity. I'm sad it's over, but I look forward to exploring the rest of his English translated work from Drawn & Quarterly.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    Shigeru Mizuki autobiography in Manga and a brilliant history of Japan. Mizuki served in the armed forces in WWII and explores the rise of Japan from the ashes of the war to becoming a major economic power. It asks an essential question on human happiness: Post War Japan is a wealthy prosperous society but there was so much unhappiness. Subsistence societies in the Pacific Islands were impoverished but there was great happiness. Mizuki was at times the quintessential starving artist, and at time Shigeru Mizuki autobiography in Manga and a brilliant history of Japan. Mizuki served in the armed forces in WWII and explores the rise of Japan from the ashes of the war to becoming a major economic power. It asks an essential question on human happiness: Post War Japan is a wealthy prosperous society but there was so much unhappiness. Subsistence societies in the Pacific Islands were impoverished but there was great happiness. Mizuki was at times the quintessential starving artist, and at times the successful artist raising a family and providing for employees, yet his greatest happiness was in the pacific islands. The text also meditates on the horrors of war, terror, and inhumanity. Brilliantly written and illustrated.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jason Mccue

    The final book in the Showa series. It brings an amazing set of Manga books to an end, both for the Show period itself as well as Shigeru's story. This time it brings readers through to the end of life for the Emporer and starts to show how, while prosperous, Japan is still not very happy being industrialized. It tells a great little morale that you can be happy with less and often at times you can only be happy with less. Highly recommended for artist lovers, history lovers, or just great book l The final book in the Showa series. It brings an amazing set of Manga books to an end, both for the Show period itself as well as Shigeru's story. This time it brings readers through to the end of life for the Emporer and starts to show how, while prosperous, Japan is still not very happy being industrialized. It tells a great little morale that you can be happy with less and often at times you can only be happy with less. Highly recommended for artist lovers, history lovers, or just great book lovers.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Harris

    Among the books I read last year in order to reflect on my 2015 trip to Japan, I'd recently been reading this autobiographical series by Shigeru Mizuki, one of Japan's most famous manga artists. Mizuki passed away only a few months after my visit, but only recently has his work slowly been published in the United States. The fourth and final entry in Mizuki’s four part Showa series, 1953-1989, which chronciles the history of the Japanese nation and Mizuki's experience as part of it was recently Among the books I read last year in order to reflect on my 2015 trip to Japan, I'd recently been reading this autobiographical series by Shigeru Mizuki, one of Japan's most famous manga artists. Mizuki passed away only a few months after my visit, but only recently has his work slowly been published in the United States. The fourth and final entry in Mizuki’s four part Showa series, 1953-1989, which chronciles the history of the Japanese nation and Mizuki's experience as part of it was recently published in English and I checked it out from the library to complete it. I’ve always really enjoyed memoir comics and Mizuki’s accounts of how Japanese society changed over the years was fascinating. In the final volume, he writes how the post-WWII economy of Japan changed the perspectives of the nation, as he returned disabled from the war and began slowly making a name for himself as a manga artist as the political situation stabilized. Most interesting was the strong protest movements that blossomed in Japan as well as the US during the 1960s and 1970s. I also enjoyed how the historical portions were narrated as cameos by a character from GeGeGe no Kitaro, the yokai-man Nezumi Otoko (the Rat Man), who cuts a ghoulish figure as he drolly discusses what troubles are besetting one general or politician or another. Read more about this and other books I read inspired by my trip to Japan at my blog, Reading Rainstorm.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ian Hrabe

    Shigeru Mizuki burns through the post-post-war years at a rapid clip. It feels a bit like a greatest hits collection of highlights and lowlights in Japan's rise as an international economic juggernaut. Mostly it's full of WEIRD, lurid crimes, domestic terrorism, and student uprisings. The autobiographical bits are incredible, and the strength of this series was always Shigeru Mizuki's personal interactions and opinions about the Showa period. The payoff is beautiful and satisfying and I can't re Shigeru Mizuki burns through the post-post-war years at a rapid clip. It feels a bit like a greatest hits collection of highlights and lowlights in Japan's rise as an international economic juggernaut. Mostly it's full of WEIRD, lurid crimes, domestic terrorism, and student uprisings. The autobiographical bits are incredible, and the strength of this series was always Shigeru Mizuki's personal interactions and opinions about the Showa period. The payoff is beautiful and satisfying and I can't recommend this series enough.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jason Keenan

    Beginning to end the Showa series is a testament to how manga can be literature. Mizuki's history of the postwar recovery and boom is as unique and contrarian as the first three volumes in the series. And it reveals the poverty no one really knows about that preceded the boom times the world remembers. This series is some of the most compelling history you'll read. Beginning to end the Showa series is a testament to how manga can be literature. Mizuki's history of the postwar recovery and boom is as unique and contrarian as the first three volumes in the series. And it reveals the poverty no one really knows about that preceded the boom times the world remembers. This series is some of the most compelling history you'll read.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Dan Polley

    I'm sad to see this series conclude. It provided such a great historic look into a period in Japan's history. The way Shigeru Mizuki weaves his personal history in with a larger historic view of the country, via economics, politics and war, showed how large-scale issues affected people on an individual basis. I'm sad to see this series conclude. It provided such a great historic look into a period in Japan's history. The way Shigeru Mizuki weaves his personal history in with a larger historic view of the country, via economics, politics and war, showed how large-scale issues affected people on an individual basis.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Marsha Altman

    An excellent end to a seriously massive and important text on the Showa period. Not a lot happens in post-war Japan, politically, so it's mostly about socio-economic changes and Mizuki's difficult career as a manga artist. At one point he almost dies from overwork. The current events read a bit like a crime blotter. His own personal story of personal frustration is more important. An excellent end to a seriously massive and important text on the Showa period. Not a lot happens in post-war Japan, politically, so it's mostly about socio-economic changes and Mizuki's difficult career as a manga artist. At one point he almost dies from overwork. The current events read a bit like a crime blotter. His own personal story of personal frustration is more important.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Derek Royal

    The temporal scope of this volume, covering more years than the previous three volumes combined, makes this a different kind of reading experience. There are more events and cultural moments packed into this one, at times at an almost breakneck pace.

  24. 4 out of 5

    The Laughing Man

    WHAT A GODDAMN JOURNEY THAT WAS... HUFF! Shigeru Mizuki gave me so much to think about, filled me with so many ideas and such precious information about the beloved Japan. This could be the best manga I've ever read, throw away all the nonsense they sell in endless volumes, THIS is good manga. WHAT A GODDAMN JOURNEY THAT WAS... HUFF! Shigeru Mizuki gave me so much to think about, filled me with so many ideas and such precious information about the beloved Japan. This could be the best manga I've ever read, throw away all the nonsense they sell in endless volumes, THIS is good manga.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Derek

    This volume has the challenge of covering more than 30 years of Japanese history, and I think it does feel at times like a collection of facts as Mizuki tries to squeeze in all of the vital information. I'm sure there is also a lot of history missing from these pages, but it works because it still does well to cover the overall feeling of life during the Showa era after war had ended. I really enjoy this book's focus on Mizuki's life as he goes from starving, struggling man to renowned manga arti This volume has the challenge of covering more than 30 years of Japanese history, and I think it does feel at times like a collection of facts as Mizuki tries to squeeze in all of the vital information. I'm sure there is also a lot of history missing from these pages, but it works because it still does well to cover the overall feeling of life during the Showa era after war had ended. I really enjoy this book's focus on Mizuki's life as he goes from starving, struggling man to renowned manga artist. The story is very reflective at times, covering the unrealistic expectations placed on manga artists, the hollowness and unhappiness of modern life, and the fading knowledge of how difficult it was for people during the early Showa period. The inclusion of the color pages from the original manga was also a welcome addition. A review of the series overall: Mizuki's Showa isn't the most complete history of time — there are significant events that get much less coverage than a text book would give them — but this series gives you a realistic view of what life would have been like if you were living through the Showa era. Wars take up at least half of the series, which will feel like too much information to some readers and not enough detail to others, but it's impossible to escape the impact of WWII and the Pacific campaigns for Japanese people who lived through that period. I will definitely recommend this series to friends and wish such a history existed for other countries in the 1900s.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Keshav

    The final part of the series wraps up the rest of Shigeru's life after the war. His struggle as a Kamishibai artist and then a Manga artist occupies the better part of his adult life, and he's almost 40 when he has income steady enough to not have to worry about meals. The second half of the book is a little bit of a drag, with Mizuki choosing to highlight the sensationalist news items that gripped Japan (he seems obsessed with bizarre murders) interspersed with who gets to be the premier of the The final part of the series wraps up the rest of Shigeru's life after the war. His struggle as a Kamishibai artist and then a Manga artist occupies the better part of his adult life, and he's almost 40 when he has income steady enough to not have to worry about meals. The second half of the book is a little bit of a drag, with Mizuki choosing to highlight the sensationalist news items that gripped Japan (he seems obsessed with bizarre murders) interspersed with who gets to be the premier of the country, alongside some stray political movements and scandals. The book delves into supernatural often, (with the author shown as daydreaming) and those bits entertain. The series closes solemnly with the death of Hirohito and with Mizuki wrapping up some loose ends (against a backdrop of the daily grind, daydreams, southward sickness and yokai). The coloured panels serving as an epilogue were a treat.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Philip Girvan

    This book is certainly the most introspective volume in the series. The Pacific War and the Second Sino-Japanese War fade into history as Mizuki struggles to make a living as an artist during a period of rapid modernization, social upheaval, and economic growth. The book is a gripping history and a critical view of post-war Japan that questions a number of presumptions concerning fulfillment and the meaning of happiness. I can’t recommend this series highly enough.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Avinash Gupta

    Bloody brilliant

  29. 4 out of 5

    BookishStitcher

    3.5 stars This was my least favorite of the four books, but it was still a very good ending.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Skjam!

    This is the final volume of Shigeru Mizuki’s history of Japan and his personal life during the Showa Era. It mixes events that affected the entire country with stories of his struggles as a man and an artist. As noted in the introduction by Frederik L. Schodt, this volume covers more time than the previous three put together. It covers Japan’s transition from a militarized country reeling from utter defeat, to a nation that was all about business. Many of the events covered will be new to America This is the final volume of Shigeru Mizuki’s history of Japan and his personal life during the Showa Era. It mixes events that affected the entire country with stories of his struggles as a man and an artist. As noted in the introduction by Frederik L. Schodt, this volume covers more time than the previous three put together. It covers Japan’s transition from a militarized country reeling from utter defeat, to a nation that was all about business. Many of the events covered will be new to American readers (though manga and anime fans may see the roots of certain storylines in real life happenings.) The book also chronicles the long years of poverty Mizuki endured as he struggled to earn a living as an artist. Again, this is a warts and all portrayal, so we learn that his arranged marriage was by no means a love match, but something his parents insisted on. Even when Mizuki finally makes it big with a hit manga, he learns that success is its own trap. Now that people want his product, he has to keep putting it out on strict deadlines bang bang bang. I learned a lot. For example, while it’s been retrofitted into many historical dramas, kidnapping for ransom was a new crime in 1963, made possible by rising prosperity meaning rich people had enough cash to pay ransom. The “paradox of prosperity” is discussed: As rising prosperity made the inside of people’s houses more comfortable, the associated pollution made the outside of their houses less comfortable. As Mizuki’s personal star rose, he had to take on assistants to help him produce all the work he was now obligated to put out. Some of these assistants, like Ryoichi Ikegami, went on to become famous manga creators in their own right. Others…did not. A subplot in one chapter has an assistant vainly attempt to get his original work published to impress a potential marriage partner. A couple of chapters are dedicated to daydreams Mizuki had, one where he takes a vacation to the afterlife, and another where he contemplates a company that facilitates extra-marital affairs (and admits that his long-suffering wife might also appreciate the idea.) In real life, he reconnects with the New Guinea natives that had befriended him decades before. The volume ends with a completely transformed Japan, and Mizuki’s wish that while the future is yet unwritten, the new generations will learn from the mistakes and suffering of the past. Mizuki lived on into the second decade of the 21st Century, still working up until the end. Once again, the primary narrator is Nezumi Otoko (Rat Man), and we meet the real life person who inspired his personality. One chapter is instead narrated by a traditional storyteller who mentored Mizuki for a while. Readers who are unused to manga conventions may find the art shifts uncomfortable. In addition to the standard footnotes and endnotes, this volume ends with a number of color plates that demonstrate Mizuki’s art at its most detailed. this is great stuff. There’s some uncomfortable bits, including rape, cannibalism and suicide. There’s also some toilet humor (which at one point turns dramatic.) Like the other volumes in the series, a must have for manga and anime fans who want to know more about Japan’s recent history. It would also be good for more general history students seeking a new viewpoint. Highly recommended.

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