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Manga Jam #4: Onwards Towards our Noble Deaths

We're tackling some dark topics in February with Shigeru Mizuki's Onward Towards our Noble Deaths. This Gekiga-style manga is "a semiautobiographical account of the desperate final weeks of a Japanese infantry unit at the end of WorldWar II. The soldiers are told that they must go into battle and die for the honor of their country, with certain execution facing them if they return alive. Mizuki was a soldier himself (he was severely injured and lost an arm) and uses his experiences to convey the devastating consequences and moral depravity of the war."

While not well known in the west, Shigeru Mizuki is one of Japan's most beloved manga-ka, most famous for the classic tale of Yokai or traditional Japanese spirits, "Gegege no Kitarou" which was most recently adapted into an anime series "Hakaba Kitarou" which aired on Japanese television back in 2008.  At 91 he is one of Japan's oldest cartoonists still working today!

Join us at Next Door Cafe’s Kitchen Table on Saturday, February 15th from 2–4pm. Please RSVP here on Meetup and arrive early for snacks. It's a short read and can be purchased on Amazon or borrowed from the Chicago Public Library.

AnimeChicago Manga Jam meets 2–4pm on third Saturdays to discuss a selected work of manga and its international relevance. Learn more at

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  • Neil C.

    Final rating was an 8.4 / 10 - We all agreed that this was an important manga detailing the life of an extraordinary artist's experiences in World War 2. Realistic, gritty, and tragic, with moments of humor scattered throughout. A humanist tale with a hard gritty edge.

    We all liked the sometimes controversial artwork which combined intensely studied realism with crudely drawn cartoon characters feeling that it helped illustrate the contrast between the very human people involved in an inhumane situation.

    There were some issues with the first half of the book having a different tone and pace than the second half. This half was marked by more short sometimes grim sometimes humorous stories which some people felt were a bit too repetitive versus the second half which was an epic though realistic tragedy.

    1 · February 17, 2014

  • Rich B.

    Great convos. Good topics. Fun people. Good times

    1 · February 16, 2014

    • Neil C.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      February 17, 2014

  • Neil C.

    When reading this book, a term in Japanese culture came to mind known as Mono No Aware which is a sense of the transience of life - this quick wikipedia article is a good introduction.

    February 9, 2014

  • Neil C.

    Just as a reminder, this book can be obtained from any number of Chicago public libraries, the link is here:

    February 4, 2014

  • Jamie

    I still plan on reading this selection, but Ryan and I will be out of town.

    January 30, 2014

    • Neil C.

      Let me know what you think when you read it, and good luck with your trip!

      1 · January 30, 2014

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