On the 30th of November 2015, the world bade goodbye to a renowned mangaka, Shigeru Mizuki (水木しげる). He had passed away at the ripe old age of 93 due to cardiac failure in a Tokyo hospital. He was most notable for his manga Gegege no Kitaro.
Besides manga, he is also known for his memoirs of World War II. The wartime affected him greatly as he was infected by malaria, witnessed friends succumbed to diseases and injuries from battles, and he also lost his left arm due in an explosion. That’s right, he is a one-armed mangaka. He was actually left-handed so he taught himself to draw using his right hand after he lost his left arm.
Gegege no Kitaro is a manga based on Japanese folklore creatures known as yokai. Shigeru Mizuki is deemed as a master of this manga genre. The manga was being continuously published from 1960 to 1969 with a total of 9 volumes.
Due to its popularity, a new anime series was being produced every decade since 1968. He mentioned that he created yokai without ethnicity and nationality to reflect a potential in humanity.
In 2010, an Asa-dora (morning drama) starring Nao Matsushita came out, it was based on Gegege no Nyobo (Wife of Gegege) which is an autobiography written by Shigeru’s wife that sold over 500,000 copies. The autobiography mainly details Shigeru’s struggle with poverty before his success. A similar full-length film starring Kazue Fukiishi was produced as well.
Sakaiminato is the birthplace of Shigeru Mizuki and there is a street dedicated to Shigeru which is even named after him – the Mizuki Shigeru road. As you walk through the city, you will be greeted by yokai statues around. There is a total of 100 bronze yokai statues on the Mizuki Shigeru Road.
I have not read Gegege no Kitaro despite its popularity. Perhaps, I will pick it up one day. I really admire the fact that Shigeru Mizuki did not give up after losing his dominant arm, but continued to succeed in life. Thanks to such a strong spirit, now we can all enjoy his fantastic works!
Osamu Tezuka, the God of Manga