My first exposure to the work of Mizuki Shigeru was indirect, in the form of Miike Takashi’s wonderful 2005 film Yôkai daisensô (eng. The Great Yôkai War), which I saw last year. Amongst the most impressive aspects of that thoroughly enjoyable movie was the often iconically simple and inventive character designs given to the host of yôkai appearing throughout. Yôkai is the common term for the multitude of spirits and demons of Japanese folklore and author and mangaka Mizuki is probably their most significant ambassador to the world of 20th-century popular culture.
Mizuki being such a strong, simple stylist whose stories are celebrated widely in Japan, it was only natural that Miike would be drawing on his ideas and designs for his delirious yôkai epic. Now, however, Mizuki’s own work has at long last come to the west, and to great critical acclaim. His autobiographical masterwork NonNonBÃ¢ to Ore, in French just plain NonNonBÃ¢, was recently recognised by perhaps the finest distinction a comic can be granted in the West – the Angoulême book of the year. And let it be said immediately: Mizuki, though far from epic in scope, does not let down the promise provided by Miike.