Page 45 Review by Jonathan
My favourite Mizuki so far which, in addition to detailing the rise and rise of the fascistic version of imperialism that began to take sway in the decades following Japans own Great Depression, culminating in its ill advised entry into WW2 under General Tojo, also provides us with further autobiographical adventures of the young Shigeru and family as told so eloquently in NONNONBA.
Frequently either Shigeru or members of his family act as narrators elucidating the day to day, historical goings-on, which as a conceit works extremely well. He is obviously of the mindset that the Japanese military high command was completely out of control at the time, often acting in direct opposition to the civilian government, but you do also very clearly get the sense it was just a chaotic unsettled time in Japan, and the wider region generally, so completely different to the organised, efficient, highly structured nation we perceive that country to be today.
In that sense you can, and he also does, draw parallels with 30s Germany, in terms of what state society at large was in. Very fascinating socio-political stuff, but always kept grounded at the most human level, interspersed as it is, with stories of his epic gang battles with the various neighbourhood kids and encounters with ghostly spirits!