Cartoonist Mizuki, known for ‘GeGeGe no Kitaro’ comic, dies at 93

CARTOONIST SHIGERU MIZUKI DIES AT 93 — File photo taken in February 2014 shows characters from the popular horror comic series “Gegege no Kitaro” marching in the western Japan city of Sakaiminato. The author of the series, Shigeru Mizuki, died on Nov. 30, at age 93. Kyodo News photo

CARTOONIST SHIGERU MIZUKI DIES AT 93 — File photo taken in February 2014 shows characters from the popular horror comic series “Gegege no Kitaro” marching in the western Japan city of Sakaiminato. The author of the series, Shigeru Mizuki, died on Nov. 30, at age 93.
Kyodo News photo

TOKYO — Cartoonist Shigeru Mizuki, well known for his “GeGeGe no Kitaro” comic series depicting spirits and monsters in Japanese folklore called yokai, died Nov. 30 of multiple organ failure at a Tokyo hospital, his office said. He was 93.

Mizuki, whose real name was Shigeru Mura, was hospitalized on Nov. 11 after he fell down and hit his head at his house in Tokyo. He underwent emergency surgery and temporarily recovered at one point, but died at 7:18 a.m. on Nov. 30, according to the office.

The native of Tottori Prefecture in western Japan started his career as a cartoonist after barely surviving World War II, during which he was sent to Rabaul — the scene of fierce fighting — in what is now Papua New Guinea. He suffered from malaria and lost his left arm to a U.S. air strike.
Mizuki is also known for works that depict the horror of war, such as “Soin Gyokusai Seyo! (Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths),” a 1973 comic based on his battlefield experiences.

The full-length piece was highly acclaimed internationally and received in 2009 the Heritage Essential Award of the Angouleme International Comics Festival in France.

Witnessing the death of fellow soldiers, together with his own experience of drifting between life and death during the war, also gave inspiration to Mizuki in drawing yokai monsters in works such as “GeGeGe no Kitaro,” which depicts a boy character Kitaro striving to achieve peace between the human and spirit worlds.

Reflecting the popularity of his work that transcends generations, “GeGeGe no Kitaro” was repeatedly adapted into television animation series as well as live-action films.

A museum dedicated to Mizuki opened in Sakaiminato, Tottori Prefecture, in 2003, becoming a major tourist attraction in the prefecture, alongside the so-called “Mizuki Shigeru Road,” which displays more than 100 statues of Mizuki’s cartoon characters including Kitaro and a mouse man named Nezumi Otoko.

A television drama series in 2010 that portrayed the life of Mizuki and his wife Nunoe Mura also gained popularity.

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