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Showa 1939-1944: A History of Japan (Showa: a History of Japan) Paperback – June 3, 2014


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Editorial Reviews

Review

“A powerful, maddening and at times bitterly funny war story . . . A revealing look at World War II from the opposite side.” —NPR

“Shigeru Mizuki is one of Japan’s greatest illustrators, a master of both realism and manga.” —The Globe and Mail

About the Author

Born in 1922 in Sakaiminato, Tottori, Shigeru Mizuki is a specialist in stories of yōkai and is considered a master of the genre. He is a member of the Japanese Society of Cultural Anthropology and has traveled to more than sixty countries to engage in fieldwork of the yōkai and spirits of different cultures. His work has been published in Japan, South Korea, France, Spain, Taiwan, and Italy, and he was the first manga-ka to win the grand prize at the Angoulême International Comics Festival, Europe’s highest prize for comics.
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Product Details

  • Series: Showa: a History of Japan (Book 2)
  • Paperback: 536 pages
  • Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly; Tra edition (June 3, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1770461515
  • ISBN-13: 978-1770461512
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.9 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #103,757 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Sherriff on July 11, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My eldest is going through junior high school in Japan and I was happy to hear she was studying aspects of the Second World War. As far as I can tell from her textbook (and I could well be missing something) those aspects are the Nazis and the Holocaust, and that's about it.

To be fair, there was no room on the double-page spread covering the war to refer to any part Japan had to play in it, I suppose talking about genocide in Germany is distressing enough for 12-year-olds without bringing up Japan's less than auspicious past in Nanking or its own mini-genocide inflicted on the Chinese by Unit 731. Much easier to start with the Nazis and Anne Frank and all that. The trouble is, I doubt it will develop into much more introspection, which would be fascinating, if not to my daughter, then at least to her old man.

So I don't look to Japan's schools to learn much about the war. That's what comic books are for.

I enjoyed the English translation of the first instalment of Shigeru Mizuki's Showa manga covering 1926-1939, so I just had to get the second (covering 1939-1944). You might quibble that a manga can only skirt the surface of such a momentous time, and yeah, it does at times feel like a school history textbook, jam-packed with just enough facts to tell the story of The Key Events of the war. The Bataan Death March receives little more than two frames (and an aside from Mizuki that as horrific as it was, the death toll was as much to do with the heat and general Japanese unpreparedness to deal with POWs as anything particularly evil. And "Comfort Women" sexual slavery receives just a fleeting reference, on one page.

But don't get me wrong, Mizuki is no revisionist. He's relaying the war through his experiences.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Light Navigation on July 6, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
2 and a half stars

Pluses

1) This is one of the rare works by japanese authors that has realistic view of Ww2. Usually, when japanese do books/comics/films about Ww2 it's almost exclusively about Hiroshima and atomic bombs. Everything japan did prior to that bombing is usually ignored, so this book is rare.

2) I really like how Shigeru Mizuki draws characters and backgrounds(when he's not 'rotoscoping').

Minuses

1) Narrative is a mess. It's obvious that very little thought went into how to structure such large amount of information.

2) Formally, this is a very dull work. Compositions are uninspired and boring, rhytm is often stilted. At least Tezuka had an cinematic eye; Mizuki draws some of the most monotonous actions scenes.
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3 of 8 people found the following review helpful By DJ Dycus on June 27, 2014
Format: Paperback
Mizuki is tackling a huge, complicated topic, I understand that. Furthermore, he is balancing his personal story along with the perspective of the Pacific theater as a whole. A huge task to undertake. However, there is a lot that just doesn't work here. It's hard to follow the progression of the naval battles in the Pacific. Mizuki provides a lot of names, along with facts and figures, but it's more than a bit disjointed. I suspect that this work might have benefited from the oversight of a trained historian to help Mizuki think through what to include and how to tell the story. I can forgive the book for these failings because the subject matter is so complex, but even the personal portions of the narrative frequently left me scratching my head as to what was happening.

Personally, I found Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths MUCH more compelling--it's simply a better-told story.

(Let me add, this is volume 2 of 3 and the only one I've read. So, if I had read the volume covering 1926-1939, maybe I would have had a better experience.)
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