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Unformatted text preview: o see well-dressed businessmen riding the subway thoroughly and unself-consciously engrossed
in reading comic books.
Japan has a comics tradition, especially in caricature, dating back to
ancient times. As noted in Chapter 4, caricature-like sketches can be
found on the walls of Hòryûji Temple and in the collection of documents in the Shòsòin storehouse of the Nara period. These sketches appear to have provided at least some of the inspiration for the drawing of
probably the most famous caricatures of premodern Japanese history,
the Animal Scrolls attributed to the priest Toba (see figs. 28–29). In the
Tokugawa period, Hokusai is especially remembered for his caricatures
and comical sketches and stylistically can probably be regarded as the
father of modern Japanese comics. Hokusai is also credited with coining
the word manga, which is still used today for comics.
One of the most popular subjects of postwar comics has been science
fiction. Another has been the samurai, Japan’s equivalent, in terms of
manly ethos, of the American cowboy. But the Japanese have never
developed the kind of “war comics” that have been so popular in the
United States. Even during World War II, neither comics nor movies
portrayed the Japanese soldier, for example, as a tough he-man out to
slaughter the enemy. Rather, the focus was more on relations among
soldiers bonded by battle and on the simple and pure way they fought
for their country and sometimes died for it.61 Since the war, for fairly
obvious reasons, Japanese artists of comics and other media have made
no attempt to glorify war. On the contrary, some have drawn antiwar Culture in the Present Age 347 comics while others have given their attention to the sad plight of
the civilian in a war-devastated Japan. Keiji Nakazawa’s Hadashi no Gen
(Barefoot Gen), for example, tells the story of a boy named Gen in
Hiroshima on the day the first atomic bomb was dropped.62 “Unaware
of the hell that was approaching in the sky, Hiroshima began the day as
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This note was uploaded on 02/08/2013 for the course ANTH 142 taught by Professor Hans during the Spring '13 term at The University of British Columbia.
- Spring '13