He was born March 8 1922 and passed away November 30 2015 at age 93.
Mizuki-san was a manga-ka and historian, most famous for his Kitaro manga, Which he started publishing in 1960.
I could give a textbook account of him and everything he’s done and his influence on Japanese culture and revival of the interest in Yokai in Japan as a whole, but I just want to point out some very small things about him;
The first is, unlike a lot of Manga-ka of the 60s, Mizuki did not learn to draw Manga from Tezuka’s school…. or any school at all. He was one of those weird ‘natural talents’ you always hear about but actual examples of are hard to find. Mizuki was one such person. He just inately knew how to draw. And as a result, despite influences from other manga at the time, his characters generally don’t resemble what we think of when we think of ‘60s manga’
Not to mention that, despite his preferred art style, he was diverse in what he could do with how he drew, easily going from his more cartoony drawings to a more realistic style, sometimes doing both at once.
Mizuki-san was drafted into the Japanese Imperial Army during WWII, and during the war contracted malaria and lost his left arm during an explosion.
He was left-handed.
However, despite disease, losing his drawing-hand, being the only surviving member of his unit and literally being ‘ordered to die’ by his superiors, Mizuki survived the war and taught himself to draw with his right hand and just kept going.
His manga that he’s famous for were all done after he lost his dominant arm.
All his manga have a personal autobiographical touch to them. Whether it’s “Showa” which is literally a historical account of what Japan was like from the 20s to the 80s, to Kitaro, which is about the stories of Yokai told to him by his elderly neighbour, all his manga have something personal about them.
He is a cultural icon in Japan for keeping traditional ghost stories and creatures alive in the modern consciousness, as well as his contributions to Japanese history regarding WWII. He traveled the world, gathering ghost stories and traditional folklore from other countries as well.
He’s been awarded a string of awards I’m not even gonna attempt to list, although personally I feel most noteworthy is the ‘Personal of Cultural Merit’ award in 2010 and the ‘Order of the Rising Sun’ Award.
But again, that is his importance historically and culturally, whereas I find his personal struggles regarding the loss of his arm and just relearning how to draw something more personal to know as an artist.
With this in mind, He is also noteworthy for never really following the idea that most manga-ka of the time had that ‘you only need 3 hours sleep a night’ or to keep working without rest. Mizuki never really followed that belief. He got a full night’s sleep every night, and fully believed in actually LIVING life, and not just spending your entire life behind a desk, drawing.
He later joked offhandedly that at age 90 he was still around whereas everyone else of the same time period making manga had long since died.
I feel this is incredibly important to remember. Tezuka believed in working non-stop and barely sleeping. And he is undoubtedly the most important contributor to what we think of as manga today. But Mizuki-san, who is just as important to Japanese culture, believed in sleeping well, living life, and being happy. And he was ALSO important, created amazing work, and is recognized as a master.
You don’t need to work yourself to death to be an artist.
Mizuki-san had a list of ‘7 rules to happiness’, which I honestly feel is worth remembering. It may be things we’ve heard before, but this coming from a man, who went through active war, lost limbs, nearly died,retaught himself how to draw because he wasn’t able to give up, made an impact on Japanese culture, believed in living life, refused to overwork himself and lived to the age of 93, it feels like you can trust his advice. because he’s someone who’s seen some serious shit, but he was happy, and he’d learned how to be happy. And from what I’ve heard remained happy and content until he died of natural causes.
‘Don’t try to win – Success is not the measure of life. Just do what you enjoy. Be happy.’
‘Follow your curiosity – Do what you feel drawn towards, almost like a compulsion. What you would do without money or reward.’
‘Pursue what you enjoy – Don’t worry if other people find you
foolish. Look at all the people in the world who are eccentric—they are
so happy! Follow your own path.’
‘Believe in the power of love – Doing what you love, being with people you love. Nothing is more important.’
‘Talent and income are unrelated – Money is not the reward of talent
and hard work. Self-satisfaction is the goal. Your efforts are worthy if
you do what you love.’
‘Take it easy – Of course you need to work, but don’t overdo it! Without rest, you’ll burn yourself out.’
‘Believe in what you cannot see – The things that mean the most are things you cannot hold in your hand.’
Alternate Futurescape: The Bubblegum Crisis We Never Got
Bubblegum Crisis, the cult classic anime OAV first released in Japan on February 25, 1987, was a huge hit with anime fans in the west. Released by AnimEigo in America the early 90s, it was one of the first titles available subtitled in Japanese unedited–a rarity in the US at the time. But if things had gone differently, the release of Bubblegum Crisis we could have gotten would have been VERY different.
Enter GAGA Communications, a Japanese TV & Theatrical marketing company hoping to break into distributing anime in America. With OAVs being a booming market in 1987 Japan, they wanted to see if they could tap into the American home video audience (which was also seeing a boom). With the right marketing, GAGA was hoping to sublicense anime titles to the fledgling anime audience growing there at the time. So in 1988, GAGA Communications put together a promo reel to pitch to potential companies. This reel included a lot of titles considered cult classics of anime today, such as Project A-ko and They Were 11, but there was one big difference: Their names and concepts had been drastically edited by GAGA. Project A-ko became “SuperNova”, They Were 11 became “Star Odyssey”…and Bubblegum Crisis became “FutureScape”.
The trailer for their Bubblegum Crisis retooling is an amusing & genuinely interesting time capsule of what some executives thought would be appealing to anime fans in the English-speaking world. If you watch the trailer, there’s a few things that go unchanged: Genom is still mentioned by name. The music from the series plays unaltered throughout. Priss (though not mentioned by name) is still a rock singer.
But the tone of the story described in the English narration feels like a much different one. Where Bubblegum Crisis’
Knight Sabers were a mercenary team that’d take any job for the right
price, FutureScape’s “Night Saviors” were advertised as “Four girls who will accept no money in their never ending battle against the Boomers!“ Fans familiar with Bubblegum Crisis
and the Knight Saber mercenary group that were mostly motivated by
revenge would probably have been a little more than shocked to see them
instead portrayed as a super-heroine team fighting for “freedom and
justice” under the new name of “The Night Saviors”. And while GAGA was
trying to sell these titles as subtitled Japanese shows, they also tried
to strip out as many Japanese elements as possible, hoping to make an
easier sell to American companies. MegaTokyo is now just a nameless
futuristic city backdrop, and none of the characters are given
names–possibly leaving that open to whoever wanted to buy this new
version to decide.
Touted as using the “latest in animated techniques created especially for the rock video generation”, it’s not hard to see what kind of crowd they thought Bubblegum Crisis would be best to sell to at the time. And while they weren’t THAT far from the mark (the series’ music WAS a huge draw & selling point for the series, both in Japan and America), altering the tone of the original story probably didn’t do them any favors in marketing it to the slightly older, “edgier” crowd.
But we all know how this story ends, of course. GAGA Communications’ versions of anime never got past some rough ideas and this 30+ minute promo reel, and Bubblegum Crisis was released here complete & unedited. (Ironically, when they initially made this reel, only the first 3 OAVs had even been made, which is why they describe it as a 3-part feature.) Now, much like Toon Maker’s infamous American Sailor Moon pitch, GAGA Communications & their ridiculous ideas like “FutureScape” are a reminder of just how far we’ve come when it comes to anime releases in North America nearly 30 years later.
An old friend:
Remember when x thing happened?? Good times!
No I do not remember, I have no memory of 80% of my life and the things I do remember are incredibly fuzzy. The combination of semi-constant dissociation and poor cognitive abilities has left me with practically no long term memory at all.