No17 [Manga] A plunge into 1970s Japan


Yoshihiro Tatsui played a major part in manga history when, at the end of the 1950s, he coined the word gekiga (realist manga). Back then, manga were intended only for children but, working with Takao Saito and Masahiko Matsumoto, he endeavoured to create manga around more realistic subjects that adults could read. Yoshihiro Tatsumi never deviated from this aim and was already being published in revues such as Garo in the late 1960s and 1970s. His stories convey the need to stick to the reality of a country that is undergoing major changes and not to let oneself be swayed by the illusion of growing prosperity that is far from benefiting everyone. He is specifically interested in people who are seen by society as losers. Just like the mangaka Yu Takita, he is interested in poorer districts but does not seek to romanticise them. Quite the contrary, he displays their darkest aspects and his characters are tortured souls. They all suffer from a disability of one kind or another: physical, psychological or sexual. They live in makeshift houses built in a hurry at the end of the war and work in jobs that prevent them from reaping the rewards of the country’s expanding economy. This is the sort of realist manga that can be found inside his collection of original stories written in English.
Midnight Fishermen,
Landmark Books, £19.80