Onward Toward Our Noble Deaths

The book that brought pre-eminent Manga-ka Shigeru Mizuki to the English-speaking world

Kokopo, 1943. A platoon of soldiers is ordered into battle. The objective is death. The alternative is certain execution as a consequence of survival. Inspired by Eisner Award-winning author Shigeru Mizuki's own mandatory tour of duty as an active combatant in the Imperial Japanese Army, Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths portrays a flailing infantry unit on its last legs near the end of the Second World War.

This deeply personal and landmark anti-war work could only have been made by a pacifist. The desperation and moral depravity on display is devastating. Mizuki's fanciful characters must make do against a photo-realistic backdrop teeming with tropical life that remains inhospitable. Indeed, commanding officers prove even more ferocious than the wild unknown of Papua New Guinea. And yet the human instinct endures, seeing through the absurdity of such a rigid and outdated command structure with gallows humor.
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"His first-person accounts of his war experience...in "Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths"...used a light touch to deliver unsparing criticism of suicide squadrons, the mistreatment of "comfort women" in military brothels and other cruelties."—New York Times

"This classic 1973 manga, based on Mizuki's wartime experiences, explores with crystalline irony the absurdities of life during wartime...Translated into English for the first time, this is a powerful, maddening and at times bitterly funny war story—a revealing look at World War II from the opposite side."—NPR

"[...] the kind of quirky details that could only come from personal experience, and they're mixed in with page after page of soldiers dealing with hunger, illness, horniness, and the dehumanizing abuse from their superiors."—AV Club

"[...] this is an immensely powerful story, a cry of rage against the futility of war and the stupidity of the military mindset. Anyone interested in the topic—and perhaps especially anyone who is not—is encouraged to take a look."—Popmatters

"[...] alternates between broad comedy mocking the absurdity of the army's hierarchy and growing horror at the abuse of the infantrymen and the officers' commitment to the idea that one must die for one's country."—Publisher's Weekly, starred review


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