Showa 1944-1953: A History of Japan by Shigeru Mizuki
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Showa 1944-1953: A History of Japan

(Showa: A History of Japan #3)

4.48  ·  Rating details ·  923 ratings  ·  93 reviews
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 p
Paperback, 540 pages
Published November 11th 2014 by Drawn and Quarterly
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Average rating 4.48  · 
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Dave Schaafsma
Showa Volume III: The End of WWII (1945) and the Sino-Japanese conflict (1953).

The best of the four mega volumes on the history of Japan from the recently deceased and much revered manga-ka, author of Kitaro and many other things just being translated into English. This one weighs in at 530 pages, but I have to say, it is not a chore to make it through. And you should read all of these because they are classics and are SO GOOD, but okay, let me be realistic and say, if you had to read just one o
Patrick Sherriff
Feb 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: japan, graphic-novels
I devoured this manga, as I have with the other two preceding volumes. And while you could fault the somewhat one-damned-fact-after-another approach he takes to relaying the main events of the war, the artwork traced from photos somehow both dates and brings the book alive; it's like a scrapbook of key events, but only the ones he remembers as having much significance. But he really excels in telling his own remarkable story of survival against the evils of Malaria, starvation and Japanese milit ...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
The hint from how the front and back covers looked like made me remember what someone told me before that Japanese books are read starting from what is usually the back cover of a book, and by turning pages to the right, instead of to the left. When I got to its first ten pages or so, however, I felt disoriented, with a sense that the story seems to be going on a confusing thread, jumping forwards and backwards with no rhythm, until I realized that illustrations are to be read also starting from ...more
Jun 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: World War 2 buffs, history fans, manga fans
Recommended to Skjam! by: me
Shigeru Mizuki is one of the oldest (born 1922) still-working and most respected manga creators in Japan. Though he is best known for children’s horror comics such as GeGeGe no Kitaro, Mizuki also has written extensively for adults. This is the third volume of his personal history of Japan.

The first half of the volume covers the last bit of World War Two from the Japanese perspective, and Mizuki’s personal experiences as an infantry grunt in Papua New Guinea. After the failure of Japan’s invasio
Stewart Tame
Jan 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent series in general, but I find myself particularly captivated by this volume. It's such a major crossroad. World War II ends and Japan begins to pull itself from the rubble and move forward. Mizuki rejoins civilian life, and eventually finds--or seems about to find--his life's calling as a manga artist. As always, I find the perspective on history fascinating. It is immensely sobering, for instance, to learn that, even after the second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, the ...more
Jon Nakapalau
This series just gets better and better...I can't recommend Showa enough. ...more
May 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Bottom Line First: Showa: A history of Japan 1944-1953 is so far the best of this 4 book series by Shigeru Mizuki. There is a more complete picture of the politics and history of Japan from the closing days of WW II and the financial recovery from the war with the beginning of America’s involvement in the Korean War. Mizuki brings us much closer to his personal experiences as a soldier and citizen. He shares his suffering as a battlefield amputee and a malaria victim. He is honest about his stru ...more
Sep 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Showa 1944-1953 is one of Shigeru Mizuki’s many graphic novels of his accounts of Showa Japan and autobiography during the period. While telling a very detailed history of Japan, Mizuki incorporates cartoon elements while at the same time drawing very graphic scenes of the Pacific War and the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Mizuki also writes about himself during the war as a foot soldier in the Pacific Islands and its truly gripping how barely he survives and how detailed he can describe ev
Dec 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
At times Mizuki's story of survival in the South Pacific is reminiscent of parts of Spiegelman's "Maus," which perhaps says something about the role that luck plays in survival. I also enjoyed how the political and the personal merge as Shigeru tries to adjust to life in Occupation-era Japan. The history of Japan trying to rebuild is so much more visceral when told in this fashion. ...more
Jul 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
While this book is similar to the previous volume, Mizuki's personal war experience during this period is bizarre and horrifying. The post-war material is interesting as well and his take on the war's turning point is different than many western historians. ...more
Jan 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Mizuki is one of the luckiest guys in the world to come out of World War II alive! This series just keeps getting better and better! How to wait until June for the final volume!?
Mar 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I recommend this series to absolutely everyone. This is how history should be taught in our schools.
Jun 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Really interesting to see the post-war history for Japan; it's a period I knew almost nothing about, from that perspective. ...more
Ian Hrabe
Feb 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
My favorite volume so far. 1944-1953 details the end of World War II and the subsequent occupation/rebuilding of Japan. Most interesting though was Shigeru's personal stories from the end of the war. Getting in trouble for coming back alive from suicide charges, alluding allied soldiers in the forest, losing his arm and getting malaria a bunch of times, and chilling out with the natives and contemplating staying there forever. The way he deals with this absolute insanity with borderline nonchala ...more
May 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I know next to nothing about the Manga tradition, but after going through some of Oishinbo manga on Japanese food and most of these Showa volumes, I'm becoming a believer.
This series is distinguished on several levels. First of all Shigeru's life story is compelling. A weird kid and all around young slacker, Shigeru is drafted into the army, where he remains a misfit and non-conformist. His wartime stories are almost too strange not to be fiction. Are they fiction or exaggeration or the truth, t
Feb 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novel
When I got the first book in the series I didn't realize that this would become as much a story of Mizuki as it was about the war, nor did I anticipate the narrative stretching so far beyond the war, and I'm all the happier for these two surprises. I knew almost nothing of post-war Japan, or how strong a hand the US had in running the country in those years, and I'm excited to see that there is a fourth installment on the way to take us up to 1989. And then there's Mizuki, who you just can't hel ...more
Nic Mcphee
Aug 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
I've continued to be totally hooked by this series and am eagerly anticipating the final volume. It's been fascinating to read such a compelling history of a critical period from what is (for me) such a different perspective.

While there is a broad overview of key events, it is in the end a very personal history, and the extent of treatment is often driven more by their impact on Mizuki than any sort of "global importance".
Feb 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Excellent all around. Mizuki's writing is often stark but funny, and highly informative but never dull. There is a surprising amount of historical detail packed into this volume, and the not-quite-chronological presentation of events reinforces certain political and social themes as you move through the book. Definitely recommended. ...more
Sasha Boersma
The third of four books. Maybe my least favourite because it's so war history heavy. But still an incredible and important read in the series.

For those who have read "Onward to our Noble Death", the personal tales in this volume are mostly republished pages from his earlier book, so the voice changes a bit in a wonky way. But neat to see how it comes together.
Aug 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful history of the Showa Era of Japan. It alternates chapters highlighting the Mizuki's life in during the war, and the political happenings in the Pacific Theatre. It is well researched and critical of all parties involved: Japan, the USA, and more.

A great read that balances the real terror of war, humanity, and humour. A manga classic for historian and casual readers alike.
Ty Keith
Feb 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
History written by the losing side, or in this case the opposing side, can be far more enlightening than what is churned out by the winners. It is almost always a fresh perspective. Shigeru Mizuki both enlightens and provides fresh perspectives in this historical and auto-biographical work on life as a Japanese soldier during after the Second World War.
Mar 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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.
Derek Royal
Jul 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The transitional scope of this volume, from the final days of war into conquest and imposed peace, make this a more varied installment than the previous one. And Mizuki's autobiographical thread is more compelling than in the earlier volumes. ...more
Dec 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: manga
"But propaganda and reality rarely have anything in common,especially when the military is involved" " ...more
Marsha Altman
Oct 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Definitely the best of the series so far (part 3 of 4). Again, most of it is spent on explaining politics and naval battles, and we learn t hat Muzuki was not overly found of Japan's strategy of vastly underestimating the enemy and then deciding to send soldiers to their deaths rather than surrender because it would cause a loss of face. The war really could have gone on much longer had they not pulled the plug on that strategy (And Italy and Germany not surrendered), which is horrific to think ...more
Jason Keenan
Nov 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: japan
Another wonderful volume this time a snapshot of the challenging times faced by Japan and Mizuki as war ends and The slow recovery begins. At times it's amazing that either survived the hardships they faced.

It's also once again a tribute to masterful storytelling possible with a manga master - so much information conveyed in so few words. It's a marvel.
Jan 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Public library copy.

Holy moly, a huge manga book! I'd previously read Kitaro from this creator. The research and attention to details are impeccable. Unlike Kitaro the art has a lot of experimentation and transition from cartoon to the hyper real. Many images are blatantly traced from photographs. I prefer his more cartoony style personally.
In spite of the difficult subject matter, I found this volume a much faster and less gripping read than the previous one.
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
At this point im overwhelmed with Sensei Mizuki's volume of effort in his brief (so far, in 1953) life.
Shigeru (the autobiographical character) enlists in the war and has more than one lucky escape - one can imagine a strengthening of belief in supernatural spirits ('yokai') after such a life.
The sheer number of sketches needed to bring this series out is staggering, and while the expanse of the storytelling is wide, that's expected. As happens, you are forced to supplement reading to get some
Carol Chapin
Dec 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
The third volume in this manga history of Japan, and the best so far. This covers the main part of World War II – called the Pacific War by the Japanese and occurring during the latter half of the Sino-Japanese War (war to subdue China, which lasted 15 years and ended the same time as WW II).

Mizura describes the growing toll of these wars on Japanese troops and on the populace. Japan simply didn’t have the resources to keep up with the war production of the allies and fought on with less and les
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Shigeru Mizuki (Mizuki Shigeru, 水木しげる) was Japanese manga cartoonist, most known for his horror manga GeGeGe no Kitaro. He was a specialist in stories of yōkai and was considered a master of the genre. Mizuki was a member of The Japanese Society of Cultural Anthropology, and had traveled to over 60 countries in the world to engage in fieldwork of the yōkai and spirits of different cultures. He ha ...more

Other books in the series

Showa: A History of Japan (4 books)
  • Showa, 1926-1939: A History of Japan
  • Showa, 1939-1944: A History of Japan
  • Showa 1953-1989: A History of Japan

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