PopMatters celebrates the power of ONWARD TOWARDS OUR NOBLE DEATH

A Manga Superstar Gets Serious with This Tragic Tale: 'Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths'

PopMatters    |    David Maine     |    June 13, 2011

Shigeru Mizuki is a landmark figure in the development of manga (Japanese comics), but only now is his work being translated into English. His epic graphic novel, Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths, is a gritty tale of World War II and far removed from the fantasy work which as made him a superstar in Japan. Nevertheless, the book is a powerful one, and well deserves the attention of any fan of the genre. The first thing that strikes the reader about Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths is its heft. At 362 densely packed pages, the story feels as weighty as its subject matter. The opening pages present a list of characters, as you might get in a novel by Dostoevsky or Flaubert; Mizuki's story contains no fewer than 30 named characters, each favored with a distinctive visual characteristic. Many of these characters are differentiated in only the most general of terms-this one thinks only of food, this one of women, this one of duty-but the scale of the story is nevertheless impressive.

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