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Shigeru Mizuki
Mizuki Shigeru
Profile
Real Name Shigeru Mura
武良 茂
Born March 8, 1922
Osaka, Osaka
Died November 30, 2015 (93yo)
Mitaka, Tokyo
Nationality Japanese
Family Wife: Nunoe
Daughters: Naoko, Etsuko
Career
Occupation Manga artist
Yōkai researcher
Years Active 1958~2015
Debut Work Rocketman
Genre Yōkai Manga
War Manga
Notable Works GeGeGe no Kitarō
Kappa no Sanpei
Akuma-kun
NonNonBa
Japanese Yōkai Encyclopedia
Military Service
Branch Japanese Imperial Army
Years of Service 1943~1946
Rank Private Second Class
Unit Division 38, Infantry No. 229 Regiment
Honors
Titles Medal of Honor with Purple Ribbon
Order of the Sacred Treasure
Person of Cultural Merit
Honorary Citizen of Tokyo
Honorary Citizen of Chofu
Awards see Awards
Other Honors First Chairman of World Yōkai Association
Shigeru Mizuki Road
Shigeru Mizuki Memorial Museum
Website
GeGeGe Tsushin
[v · t · e]

Early life

Shigeru Mizuki at age 3

Shigeru Mizuki at age 3

Shigeru Mizuki was born on March 8, 1922 in Kohama, Nishinari, Osaka[1] (present day Sumiyoshi, Osaka[2]), the second son of Ryōichi and Kotoe Mura. According to Mizuki, at the time his father worked at a relative's printing company in Osaka near Umeda Station. When his mother was pregnant, she came from their hometown of Sakaiminato to visit his father when she gave birth to him[2]. In order for his father to start a company that imports and sells agricultural equipment with some parrtners, they soon moved back to his hometown in present-day Irifune, Sakaiminato[1]. Their reason for returning to Sakaiminato was that "the air in Osaka was so bad you couldn't even drink the milk"[2]. Mizuki's exact age when he moved to Sakaiminato is unknown, but it was somewhere between a month after his birth[3][4] to around the time he was 2 years old[5][6].

His father soon moved back as well after his business failed, and the whole family settled down in Sakaiminato[1].

One day when he was 5, he had a sudden interest in death and decided to throw his 3 year old brother into the sea. Luckily a nearby adult saw the incident and told their parents. Mizuki was scolded by his parents and had moxibustion applied to him by his great aunt, who was living with the family at the time, in order to cure his morbid obsession[7].

Childhood

Mizuki lived a fairly privileged childhood, although his parents often found paying for his education difficult, even delaying his enrollment into elementary school one year. He was not exactly a model student, often sleeping late or taking a long breakfast and making it to school two hours late. At the time, collecting newspaper front pages was a popular hobby among children, and even when other children grew out of it, Mizuki continued to collect them. Mizuki could also fart at will, and would often do so during morning assemblies in order to get a big laugh out of the other children[8]. Other than sports and art Mizuki got rather poor grades[9], but because he was a year older than most of his peers he was physically stronger and would eventually become the leader of the neighborhood kid's gang[8].

After graduating elementary school, he tried to enroll in junior high school[10], a five-year system at the time[11]. In the early Showa period, most children from rural areas entered society with just an elementary school education[12], but according to Mizuki, while Sakaiminato was a poor port town, the locals had passion and most advanced to the next level of education. His mother was also enthusiastic about his education, especially since both of his brothers had such high marks[13]. However, Mizuki would eventually begin neglecting his studies, and his entrance exam instructor even told his mother that "it's hopeless"[13]. While he felt nervous about the future at the time, as soon as he got into a prep school and advanced to advanced elementary school he went back to being a carefree child[13].

Even in advanced elementary school his grades in art were good, and at his vice-principal's suggestion he had a exhibition of his class paintings at the town hall[14]. The show was even covered in the local newspaper[14] He also won the top prize in many school competitions and was once awarded his vice-principal's oil paints as a reward for his work[15]. Even after graduating advanced elementary school he did not move on to junior high, and instead he decided to leave town and look for work. At the time his father worked for a life-insurance company in Kobe, and he helped him move out to Osaka by introducing him to a relative[16].

While his mother was quite worried about him moving away when he hadn't done as well as his brothers, Mizuki himself felt no anxiety and looked forward to moving from the sticks to the big city[17].

Teen years

Mizuki was overwhelmed by all the people walking to and from work in Osaka and thought the street lights at night looked like a festival[17]. He worked as a live-in employee at a lithograph company in Tanimachi (present-day Chūo, Osaka)[16], but he couldn't keep up with the job due to his laid-back personality and was fired after only two months[18]. Next he worked at Komura Printing in Terada but he couldn't memorize the delivery routes, and even when he did memorize them he would leave the packages in places where the customers wouldn't always see them, and so he was fired from this job as well[19]. Afterwards, while living with his relative, he fell ill and showed symptoms of jaundice, so he moved back to Tottori to receive medical treatment[20]. After Mizuki returned home, his father felt that work and life in the city did not suit him and allowed him to follow his desired career, painting. Mizuki recalls leaping to his feet when his father told him of his decision[21].

Shigeru Mizuki at age 18

Shigeru Mizuki at age 18

Taking into consideration how bad he was at focusing and studying, Mizuki searched for an art school with no entrance exam or qualifications. Before long, in Uehon, Osaka, he found the Kyoto Fine Arts School (currently the Kyoto City University of Arts), which at the time did not require an entrance exam[22]. However, it was a pretty small school and functioned more like a private school, with the principal and staff serving as both teachers and clerks and the lessons were closer to a sketch class[23]. Mizuki had worked hard trying to become a self-taught painter, and as such considered himself a better artist than most of his teachers[23]. Soon after this disappointment, he stopped going to school and instead killed time in nearby woods and mountains. Incidentally, one of Mizuki's classmates was the painter Iri Maruki[22].

After this he decided to switch schools, and he had his sights set on the Tokyo Fine Arts School (currently the Tokyo University of the Arts)[24]. Because he only graduated elementary school, however, he had no qualifications for art school, so he began to rethink junior high, quite Kyoto and took the entrance exam for Osaka Horticultural School[24]. Fortunately that year the only subject for the entrance exam was Japanese history, which Mizuki knew a good deal about[25]. Additionally, only 51 people applied and the entrance quota was 50 (meaning only one person could fail)[25], so Mizuki was confident of his success and didn't even go to view the results, but his father checked for him and it turned out Mizuki failed to pass[26].

Mizuki believed the reason for his failure stemmed from the fact that, when asked what he planned on doing upon graduation, he answered honestly that he wasn't really interested in horticulture rather than giving a more model answer like "join the Manchurian Reclamation Volunteer Army"[27]. Mizuki got depressed over the failure, but his father consoled him by asking "What would you have done if you really had gone to Manchuria, anyway?"

In 1940, while working as a newspaper deliverer, he applied for another school (the Japanese Mining School) and passed this time. However, as was usual, he had no interest in the subject at hand, so his grades began slipping and he began missing days, so he was expelled after only half a year[18]. Soon after he also quit his job and went to the Nakanoshima Movie Research Institute in Osaka. Afterwords he spoke to his parents, and at their suggestion he enrolled in the Osaka Night Middle School, which was connected to Nihon University[18]. In the daytime he once again delivered newspapers, and during holidays he'd take in a show at the Takarazuka Revue and visited the Takarazuka Family Land zoo or insect house[28]. During this time, the Pacific War broke out.

Military service

Mura Family

Mizuki (with his father, mother and little brother) during his stay at the Tottori barracks

When he turned 20 Mizuki reported for his physical[29], and although he was nearsighted he was otherwise healthy, so he passed with a B grade[30] and was enlisted into the army reserves. As the war intensified and the military expanded it's draft to include even soldiers who passed with a B grade, the likelihood he would be deployed grew and grew. Believeing he would certainly die if deployed, Mizuki began reading various philosohpy and religious books, such as the writings of Buddha and the Bible[31]. His favorite among these was Johann Peter Eckermann's "Conversations with Goethe", which he even took with him to the battlefield. At the age of 21, while still a third year in night school, Mizuki received his draft papers and reported to the 40th Infantry Regiment in Tottori[29]. Upon leaving for service, he was automatically expelled from night school.

Even as a soldier Mizuki kept living at his own pace, and as a result he was seen as a trouble maker by his superiors and often punished to wash the backs of older soldiers at bath time.[32] After his first year was complete he was put with the Bugle Corps, but he could not play the instrument well so he requested a transfer.[33] At first he was unable to get through to anyone, but after the third time his sergeant asked him "Would you rather go north or south?".[33] Assuming he was being offered a domestic deployment, Mizuki answered "south".[34] He was certain he was being sent to regiment somewhere in Southern Japan such as Kyushu, but he soon turned pale when he was told he was being sent to Rabaul, New Britain.[34] Mizuki was aware of the situation there at the time[34], so he was allowed to return home to his parents for 3 days but was not allowed to speak while there.[34]

Mizuki was sent to Infantry No. 229 Regiment (Gifu Prefecture, Division 38) and was transported from Palau to Rabaul on the battleship Shinanomaru, which has seen action in the Russo-Japanese War.[35] Despite an enemy torpedo attack, his troop made it Rabaul safely, but since the other troops heading for Rabaul were sunk on the way, his troop was the last one to arrive.[36] Upon arriving at Rabaul, he felt relieved at being able to arrive safely and asked "Where is this place?", which earned him a strong back-hand from his superior.[37] Such punishment was an everyday occurrence in the military,[38] particularly Mizuki, who the superior officer always had his eye on, was given the nickname King of Slaps (ビンタの王様, Binta no Ō-sama).[38] The superior officer was from Ibaraki and had a strong accent, and so would also use Mizuki's inability to understand his words sometimes as an excuse to slap him.[38]

Mizuki was unable to get used to the basic military life, but the commander of the regiment's 2nd troop (a commissioned officer in his 30s who owned a lumber mill in his hometown) paid him to draw his portrait once.[39] Mizuki also became on good terms with a seargant Ichirō Miya and a doctor Katsumi Sunahara.

Mizuki's wartime experiences in New Britain would inspire many of his future works. In the Battle of Wide Bay, overwhelmed by the Allied Forces' superior firepower, Major Naruse of Mizuki's troop gave an honorable death order, but they were able to survive when Mizuki's company commander Kodama ordered them to use guerrilla warfare instead. However, when word reached headquarters that they disobeyed an honorable death order, Kodama took responsibility and committed suicide. Mizuki was then sent to a suicide squad stationed in Baien, and while on night patrol he came under machine gun fire from an enemy plane. Furthermore, while running away he ran into an attack from the natives and, in a panic, he jumped into the sea to escape. Unfortunately, the rest of the suicide squad was killed in the attack. Mizuki survived in the jungle for several days with just his bayonet and loincloth and, despite being overlooked by a Japanese search party, managed to return safely to his camp.[40] Although the soldiers were impressed to see him alive, the officers accused him of deserting and losing weapons. He was asked why he returned alive and told to find someplace to die.[41] From this point on, Mizuki began to develop a more nihilistic attitude.[42]

Things got worse when, while on a march, Mizuki caught a cold which turned into malaria. He had a high fever, became delirious and occasionally wandered into the jungle.[42] While Mizuki was still under medical care the camp was attacked in an enemy bombing and Mizuki's left arm suffered a serious wound. The arm was amputated without anesthetic while he was still delirious from malaria.[43] In early 1945 he was sent to the rear with the other wounded soldiers. Mizuki was worried because there was a rumor the useless soldiers were sent there and forgotten about, but when he arrived he was given medical care and was given field work to do.[44]

His fear of death from the front lines began to dwindle, and soon he was interacting with the local Tolai Tribe. Mizuki was well-liked by the Tolai because he didn't look down on them like other soldiers, and Mizuki in turn would give them cigarettes and other goods, and before long he was considered like family to the tribe. Mizuki visited the Tolai so often he was punished for violating military regulations against mingling with the natives, and the Tolai in turn would visit him when he once again came down with malaria. He was punished on a regular basis by the commanding officer, but the aforementioned Captain Sunahara looked out for him.[45]

On August 25, Mizuki's commanding officer was informed of the signing of the Postdam Declaration. At first Mizuki and the other soldiers were not certain about the meaning of the order and believed Japan had won, but they soon came to realize otherwise.[45] While most of the soldiers were feeling dejected after the loss, Mizuki was just relieved to have survived.[46] While waiting at the Cape Cazelle prison camp for his turn to be sent home, the Tolai invited Mizuki to stay and live with them,[47] and he seriously considered doing so.[48] However, at Sunahara's suggestion, Mizuki decided to return home and face his parents first.

In March 1946, at the age of 24, Mizuki returned to Japan on the destroyer ship Yukikaze, docking in Uraga, Kanagawa

Art school years

Sagamihara National Hospital

Sagamihara National Hospital, where Mizuki recieved medical treatment after returning to Japan

Mizuki returned to Japan after 3 years and was admitted into the Sagamihara National Hospital to wait for first-rate treatment for his arm.[49] Due to a shortage of doctors and supplies, Mizuki decided to return home to Sakaiminato for recuperation as he waited for his turn. Mizuki's parents had not heard about his arm before he returned, but as soon as they knew they began to try to make things easier for him. His father even looked for jobs that didn't require the use of two hands, such as lighthouse keeper. However, Mizuki only wished to pursue an art career, the landscapes of his hometown he made before leaving inspiring him give it a shot.[50] The following year, he was finally able to return to Sagamihara for his surgery.

Mizuki earned income by working at a dye works owned by the hospital painting ceramics, but it was barely a living wage. Before long, he worked with other patients and bought black market rice to sell and earn enough expenses to travel to Tohoko to buy food, but the plan ended up failing completely.[51] He was then invited by other wounded soldiers in the hospital to join a "secret society", where he lived in an abandoned buildings and took part in many business ventures with impoverished soldiers. While they were eventually found and evicted by the government, they were successful at raising funds, collecting donations while singing war songs. However, infighting led to the leaders of the group dropping out one after another, and so Mizuki applied for a government fish license to become a fish monger.[51] He would deliver fish to families who ordered in advance, and soon he had a stable life for the first time since coming home. Furthermore, when starting out as a fish monger, he was inspired by retired army general Rippei Ogisu, who told to "Attack! Attack! Always attack!".

Kamishibai years

Rental manga years

Popularity

Later Years

Death

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 33
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Walking With Yōkai: Document Shigeru Mizuki" by Noriyuki Adachi, pg. 70
  3. "Am I Truly Stupid" by Shigeru Mizuki
  4. "Walking With Yōkai: Document Shigeru Mizuki" by Noriyuki Adachi
  5. "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki
  6. Mizuki's answer to this question has differed over the years, sometimes saying shortly after his birth and sometime saying when he was 2
  7. "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki, pgs. 43-44
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 48
  9. "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 50
  10. In the pre-war education system, this was the equivalent of three years of junior high and two years of high school in the current system
  11. In 1943 it was shortened to a four-year system, and after World War II it was integrated into the current junior high/high school system.
  12. "Perspective of Review Part 1: Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology"
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 55
  14. 14.0 14.1 "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 56
  15. "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 57
  16. 16.0 16.1 "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 58
  17. 17.0 17.1 "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 59
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 "Shigeru Mizuki's Side Story Manga: The Complete Collection Version (Post War Arc)" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 480
  19. "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 61
  20. "Am I Truly Stupid?" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 18
  21. "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 64
  22. 22.0 22.1 Maruki Art Museum Curator's Diary
  23. 23.0 23.1 "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 65
  24. 24.0 24.1 "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 68
  25. 25.0 25.1 "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 69
  26. "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 70
  27. "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 71
  28. "Am I Truly Stupid?" by Shigeru Mizuki, pgs. 68-70
  29. 29.0 29.1 "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 77
  30. "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 7
  31. "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 76
  32. "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 79
  33. 33.0 33.1 "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 81
  34. 34.0 34.1 34.2 34.3 "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 8
  35. "Shigeru Mizuki's Rabaul War Journal" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 15
  36. "Am I Truly Stupid?" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 84
  37. "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 85
  38. 38.0 38.1 38.2 "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 86
  39. "Shigeru Mizuki-san's Testimony: Still Telling His War Stories Through Manga" (Japanese) War Testimony Archives, NHK
  40. "Shigeru Mizuki's Rabaul War Journal" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 141-153
  41. "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 96
  42. 42.0 42.1 "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 97
  43. "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 98-99
  44. "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 100-101
  45. 45.0 45.1 "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 102-103
  46. "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 104
  47. "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 109-110
  48. "Shigeru Mizuki's Rabaul War Journal" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 225
  49. "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 113
  50. "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 114
  51. 51.0 51.1 "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 116-118