Skjam!'s Reviews > Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths

Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths by Shigeru Mizuki
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Apr 17, 11

bookshelves: manga, history, military-and-war, published-1971-1980, author-m
Read in April, 2011

Shigeru Mizuki is best known for his tales of youkai (supernatural monsters) like "Gegege no Kitarou." But he's also written extensively on other subjects, including this fictionalized version of his military service during World War Two.

A Japanese platoon is stationed on a South Seas island in late 1943-early 1944. The regular joe soldiers must deal with the indiginities of military life, abusive NCOs and callous officers who consider them expendable. Eventually, the Allies invade the island, and soon the commander of the platoon orders a suicide charge, the "noble deaths" of the title. As you might guess, this does not end well.

The characterization is not deep, most of the cast getting only a few lines in passing, but it's enough to establish them as normal people with ordinary concerns caught up in a war that doesn't even make sense any more. Even the officers who demand a second suicide attack because there are still survivors from the first are not so much evil as constrained by a military doctrine that demands obedience over reason.

Some readers might find the sketchy, rather cartoony art off-putting, but Mizuki's horror chops show through by the end.

I would recommend this book for WWII buffs, those who want to know more about Japan's Twentieth Century history, and those looking to read a strong anti-war story.
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