Miyaya Kazuhiko: A Magnificent Course to Self-Destruction
Miyaya Kazuhiko. Fanatic? Extremist? Narcissist? He answered to all these descriptions and more. His work takes us far beyond the narrow confines of his chosen genre. In his Nikudan Gekiga series, he explored the worlds of combat sports like boxing and wrestling, in true Fleshbomb fashion. But there were other forces at play. The series is also a homage to his hero Mishima Yukio, the ultra-controversial, ultra-aesthetic and ultra-rightist author who shocked the world with his gory suicide in 1970.
Miyaya was especially drawn to the image of the downtrodden loser, desperately trying to make a comeback. His fictional heroes and his real-life hero were losers in the end. Just like the Japanese Empire was the loser, in the end. For Miyaya, this was an integral part of the fascination. Like Mishima, he was spellbound by the titanic violence and energy of pre-war and wartime Japan. Like his hero, he searched for some way of focusing that energy and violence on the present day, and reviving it some form - if only on the page. In different ways, both of them paid the price for their delusions. The gekiga in the title of the series Nikudan Gekiga (Fleshbomb Gekiga) is a play on words meaning 'starving to death'. This may be a pointer to Miyaya's state of mind - he believed in illusions, but he knew at the same time that they could never be real. Just like pre-war Japan.
Sakaki Masaru: A full-on Fleshbomb Atmosphere, Overflowing with Claustrophobia
All about love...and hate
From the publication of his debut work, Sakaki Masaru's lifelong obsessions as an artist were very clear: "The love, the hate and the passion that lurk beneath the surface of everyday life." 'Tsuyuko's Grave' (Tsuyuko no Haka) is a melodramatic tale abounding in all three.
The setting is a farming village in the present day. A child's father has been murdered and his sister abducted. Now a teenager, he sets out on a journey to track down the culprit. On the chase, he ends up in a car crash and loses his memory. Fortunately, a young farm girl comes across the scene in time to save him and nurse him back to health. Before you know it, they're in love and thinking of tying the knot. However, the girl's father has other ideas. He's the killer. His 'daughter' is actually the young man's abducted sister. Everything will be revealed if the traveler regains his memory. Time for another murder – but this time the plan fails, the kid survives and the shock brings his childhood memories flooding back. The stage is set for the final catastrophe.
Incredibly Strange Manga Part 1 Fleshbomb Style: Origin of the Fleshbomb Style
Fukushima Masami: King of Fleshbomb
My face nearly burned up when I first came across a series called 'The Rapist Monk' (Nyohanbō). I was seventeen, and still in high school. It was 1974. I was browsing through a magazine whose title - Manga Erotopia - pretty much said it all. Ryusui, the powerful hero of the manga, was carrying a horse on one shoulder and penetrating a slutty princess from one end to the other at the same time. Even I was shocked.
Fukushima Masami was born in Daiseicho in 1948. Daiseicho is a fishing port on the freezing Sea of Okhotsk, and his father was a trawler man. His mother ran off with a lover when he was still a small child, and his father abandoned the family shortly after. The young Fukushima was reared by his brothers, heavy laborers. He gravitated to manga "for the money." He got his break in a monthly called COM after a frantic period of mailing work around. (COM was founded in 1967 by Tezuka Osamu as a forum for emerging experimental artists. This was partly in reaction to the success of the alternative magazine Garo).
Akahon: (literally 'red books'); cheap manga produced by minor publishers in the immediate postwar period. Akahon were sold in magazine stalls rather than regular bookstores.
Burakumin: before 1868, groups of people officially known as eta ('full of filth') and hinin ('non-humans') suffered systematic government-sponsored discrimination. They were confined to certain trades such as butchers and tanners, and lived in designated slum areas. When Japan modernized, they become known by the euphemistic term burakumin, and state persecution ceased. However, burakumin face weakening but still significant social discrimination to this day. Burakumin often feature in socially-concerned manga.
By Udagawa Takeo
The artists I've covered in my book Manga Zombie all went against the grain of manga as just a commercial product - whether they realized it or not. They're something different. They shine. Especially set against manga made for sales purposes only. These are forgotten artists who worked in pulp genres and got pushed out of the scene when the massive-sales weekly magazines took over. They were monomaniacs, possessed muscleheads, spinning worlds of ultraviolence and eroticism...all of them now forgotten in the brave new shiny world of commercialized manga. A lot of readers will not like what they see here. Some will be truly outraged. But these works are the real thing - scabrous, scandalous, a danger to all comers. They're what manga is all about.
These artists may even have the power to help the manga genre to smash out of the commercial cellblock it's been locked into. That's what I hope. That's why I wrote Manga Zombie.
PREFACE TO THE JAPANESE EDITION
By Udagawa Takeo
Burn manga. Especially Eighties manga on.
For example, love stories that go on...and oon... and ooon...and oooon.
Come out of the grave, manga!