A previously unreleased essay that was apparently written by the late manga artist Shigeru Mizuki half a century ago has recently been discovered, the Mainichi Shimbun has learned.
The artifact was discovered in a file by Mizuki's younger daughter as she was tidying up inside the Mizuki Productions Studio in Chofu, western Tokyo, in May 2017, about 18 months after Mizuki's death.
The essay covers one piece of writing paper and includes drawings of flowers and small insects at the end. It includes such statements as, "I want to create a manga about losing the war but I'm not allowed" -- implying that Mizuki felt forced to portray Japan's participation in World War II in a positive light in order to sell books. Mizuki himself fought in the war -- losing his left arm in a bombing in the Pacific -- before going on to become a famous manga artist whose hits included "GeGeGe no Kitaro."
In one part of the document, the manga maestro reminisces about the time he was working on a war-related manga for the magazine, "Shonen Senki." Mizuki writes: "Boys only read up until the point of the Battle of Guadalcanal. Therefore, with this in mind, I have to depict the war in a positive light -- otherwise the books will not sell. It's not possible to write what you are really thinking. That's not how manga comics get sold."
According to Mizuki Productions, it is thought that Mizuki wrote the essay in the late 1960s for the manga magazine "Garo," but it was not made public.
In 1973, the famous manga artist went on to create "Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths," which was based on his own wartime experiences in Rabaul in present-day Papua New Guinea.
Mizuki's eldest daughter, Naoko Haraguchi, who runs Mizuki Productions, says, "I think that my father's desire to depict wartime defeat led to the creation of 'Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths.' Once again, I really sensed the inner conflict he felt concerning this issue, after reading this essay."
The essay will be released on Oct. 3 by Kodansha as part of a larger publication about Mizuki's works.