Books in the Park

suggestions from the Barbara S. Ponce Public Library at Pinellas Park

Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths by Shigeru Mizuki

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onwards towards our nobel deathsAt the end of World War II, things looked grim for the Japanese forces. With the Allied Powers closing in on the Pacific island of New Britain, Commanders are rallying their troops for a final push against the enemy. Unfortunately, their rallying cry is for a suicide rush. The Commanders have no expectation that any solider will survive. They console their men with the fact that they will be dying noble deaths for the glory of their country.

There is no one main character in this story. Instead, there are many different characters, but they are largely interchangeable. However, the characters are less important than the journey they go on, and how each character dies. This graphic novel hammers home the futility of war and violence, with an off-beat comedic/melancholy tone. The story has been described as “90% fact” by its author, and is based on his actual wartime experiences.

What I most enjoyed about this graphic novel was the perspective. The novel is by a Japanese author, and so the enemy that the characters are fighting is, essentially, us. In so many war movies and books, the opposing forces are nameless, faceless monsters who fall upon the heroes with ferocity. It was stunning to read this book, and realize that the planes bombing the troops are American planes, and could very easily be piloted by my own grandfather.

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