PopMatters | Jeremy Estes | September 7, 2012
PopMatters gives NonNonBa a 9/10
Imagine you’re in your bed, alone at night. Maybe you’ve just woken up from strange dream, or you’ve tossed and turned all night. Then, you hear a noise. It’s the house settling, or a branch scraping at the window, but you close your eyes tight just in case. You feel motion, something moving, in your room, but when you open your eyes there’s nothing there. Or maybe there is. In the eyes of Shige, also known as Gege, the protagonist of Shigeru Mizuki’s semi autobiographical NonNonBa, our world is constantly visited by yokai, spirits, from other realms. Nonnonba is an elderly woman in Gege’s life, a grandmother figure, who’s his guide to all the things creeping in our rooms at night, possessing hungry travelers, and taking the souls of the young out to sea. Her stories are often instructional, like the importance of keeping a home clean to ward off the “dirt licker” akaname. Mizuki has dreamed of other worlds since he was young, and his lifetime passion for yokai is the basis for this book. He’s considered a master of stories of yokai, but his work remains largely untranslated into English.