Booklist Reviews Showa 1939–1944

“Booklist on Showa” / Booklist / Eva Volin / September 15, 2014

In this, the second of four volumes, Mizuki examines Japan’s continued expansion into Asia, its alliance with Germany and Italy, the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the start of the Pacific War. Although the story of the war moves necessarily quickly, the photorealistic spreads and superb storytelling electrify the battle scenes, making what would otherwise be a dry textbook into a pulse-thumping page-turner. As with the first volume, the narrative switches back and forth from a broad historical account of the war to a narrow view seen from the perspective of Mizuki and his family. This restricted view flattens world-changing events and highlights the mundane: the tedium of constant rationing and hunger and, once Mizuki is drafted, the hurry-up-and-wait uncertainty that comes with being a soldier. This volume has a clever cliff- hanger ending, something one doesn’t expect to find in a history book. Read this volume alongside Mizuki’s masterpiece Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths (2011) if you can’t wait until the next volume of Showa is released.

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