Showa 1953-1989: A History of Japan concludes Shigeru Mizuki's dazzling autobiographical and historical account of Showa-period Japan, a portrait both intimate and ranging of a defining epoch. The final volume picks up in the wake of Japan's utter defeat in World War II, as a country reduced to rubble struggles to rise again. The Korean War brings new opportunities to a nation searching for an identity.
A former enemy becomes their greatest ally as the United States funnels money, jobs, and opportunity into Japan, hoping to establish the country as a bulwark against Soviet Communist expansion. Japan reinvents itself, emerging as an economic powerhouse. Events like the Tokyo Olympiad and the World's Fair introduce a friendlier Japan to the world, but this period of peace and plenty conceals a populace still struggling to come to terms with the devastation of World War II.
During this period of recovery and reconciliation, Mizuki's struggles mirror those of the nation. He fights his way back from poverty, becoming a celebrity who is beloved by millions of manga-reading children. However, prosperity cannot bring the happiness Mizuki craves, as he struggles to find meaning in the sacrifices made during the war.
The original Japanese edition of the Showa: A History of Japan series won Mizuki the prestigious Kodansha Manga Award; the English translation has been nominated for an Eisner Award.