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 1944–1953 again 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.