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Sunday, December 13, 2015

In Memoriam: Mizuki Shigeru

I'm not going to change a single word from the Scoop! piece written and distributed on December 4, 2015 - HERE - except for a half line where I add the proper prefecture.

Eisner Award-winning manga artist and author Mizuki Shigeruhas recently passed away at the age of 93. Mizuki specialized in yokai stories (monster stories), and was best known for his horror series, GeGeGe no Kitaro (Spooky Kitaro).

Mizuki was born in Sakaiminato-shi (Sakaiminato City) in Tottori-ken (Tottori Prefecture), in 1922. During World War II, he was drafted into the Imperial Japanese Army and sent to Papua, New Guinea.
His experiences during the war would impact the rest of his life; he lost his left arm during an air raid where he had been caught in an explosion. Multiple stories he would later write were influenced by his World War II experience, such as Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths (for which he won his first Eisner) and Watashi no Hibi.
Kitaro, the yokai boy from GeGeGe no Kitaro.
Mizuki’s debut work was in 1957, called Rocketman; other notable works include Akuma-Kun and Showa: A History of Japan. Showa, published by Drawn & Quarterly in North America, won the 2015 Eisner Award for Best U.S. Edition of International Material – Asia this past July.

Mizuki’s most popular work was also one of his earliest, GeGeGe no Kitaro, which celebrated its 55th anniversary this year. The manga ran from 1960 to 1969 in Weekly Shonen Magazine, but the series is probably better known from its many anime adaptations over the years.

The story follows Kitaro, a yokai boy who was born in a cemetery. In traditional Japanese folklore, yokai are supernatural monsters and spirits. While many yokai take on the forms of animals, Kitaro instead looked like a relatively normal boy. His missing left eye was a standout feature in his design, but his hair usually covered the empty socket. Over the course of the story, Kitaro fights to maintain peace between yokai and humans, usually after a human unintentionally rouses a yokai.

Kitaro is joined by a number of unique-looking characters, such as the rodent-looking Nezumi-Otoko, the cat-like Neko-Musume, the cloth Ittan-Momen and the literal plastered wall, Nurikabe. The colorful cast brought the idea of yokai back into mainstream literature via the popularity of the manga.

The original manga was considered too scary for children, but eventually was reworked to be slightly less so. More notably, the various other media adaptations have been popular; six anime series were made from the original manga, all of which have been animated by Toei Animation. A new anime series has been made approximately every decade since the first one, which began in 1968. The most recent one ran in early 2008.

Andrew Joseph
PS: Dick Van Dyke turns 90 today. (sigh) There was a guy who was one of the funniest people on the planet for a while... who could act, sing, dance too. He talks now about his 15 year battle with booze... and while I am happy he kicked the habit, one can't help but wonder just how bright his star could have been.   
Also, it's the Nuge's b-day... the Motor City Madman, Ted Nugent - 67.
Taylor Swift turns 26. And she still seems too young for me to moon over. 

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