Thursday 9 June 2011

Shigeru Mizuki - Onwards Towards Our Noble Deaths

This is the first book by Shigeru Mizuki to be translated into English. That seems mad as they have been out in French for years, they even won a prize at Angouleme a few years ago. I hope his supernatural story books (like Non Non Ba) get translated next as I'd really like to read them.
This book is the '90% fact' story of how the army unit that Mizuki would have been attached to ended up having to make a suicide attack in Papua New Guinea. Some of the men managed to survive and then were told that as their 'noble deaths' had already been reported they would have to go back and attack again, and this time make sure they all died. Mizuki had lost an arm and had malaria so had been sent to the hospital instead of to this unit.

It's a very very angry book. The army looks like hell. The newer rookie soldiers are constantly beaten and slapped, almost on every page. Even if they hadn't done anything wrong they are beaten at each rolecall. They are constantly starving hungry and mainly think about food.

The drawing is very strange in many ways. There are a lot of really detailed backgrounds but the people look more like Japanese gag cartoons. Each different soldier is drawn in a very different way, with a lot of cartoony-ness and distortion. It is from the 1970's. It takes quite a lot of getting used to, I had to read it twice through to follow the different characters properly. You can feel his rage with the commanders and the terrible waste of lives on almost every page.

Highly recommended.

1 comment:

foodforthought said...

this sounds super interesting. i really like your writing as well. i have a summer reading list and im definitely adding this. thanks for sharing.