By SHOKO MIFUNE/ Staff Writer
May 28, 2021 at 07:00 JST
The short anthology "MANGA Day to Day" is a collection of reflections by 109 manga artists on how the onset of the coronavirus pandemic quickly changed daily life as we know it.
The artists collectively inked the first 100 days of the unremitting health crisis in Japan, beginning in April 2020.
The cartoonists span genres and generations, including the likes of Tetsuya Chiba, famous for his boxing manga "Ashita no Joe" (Tomorrow's Joe), and Moyoco Anno, the creator of “Sugar Sugar Rune.”
The project started after Kodansha Ltd. began publishing a similar series of stories and essays by 100 writers on its literary website in May last year.
Ryoichi Suzuki, 39, an editor in charge of manga comic magazines at the company, was inspired by the project and decided it could also work well as manga.
"With the coronavirus pandemic still ongoing, it seems like we've been getting used to the situation in recent months," Suzuki said. "When you read these books, I think you can remember the sense of tension we had earlier."
The editor used his personal connections to call on cartoonists to contribute, which resulted in 109 manga artists, including some working in duos, putting their pens to paper.
Each artist took turns to create a manga strip taking place over the course of a day from April 1 to July 9, 2020. Their works began being published on Twitter on June 15, and the project generated a huge response.
Chiba kicked off the project with the first strip for April 1, drawing the plague-fighting monster Amabie and expressing concerns over the way society has drastically changed in the pandemic.
Kenshi Hirokane, known for his long-running "Kosaku Shima" series, drew a strip that features him anguishing over whether he should have his manga characters wear masks.
In her panels, Kazumi Yamashita wonders how young people are coping with the pandemic when they cannot attend live concerts.
Other artists explored a wide variety of techniques and styles to continue the run. While some portray how their characters are coping amid the pandemic, others shared a slice of their own day-to-day lives in essay format.
The project ended on Sept. 22 on Twitter. The short works have been compiled into the two-part "MANGA Day to Day" anthology by Kodansha, which was released in March this year. Each part is being sold for 1,540 yen ($14).
‘WONDERFUL DAILY LIVES’ WILL RETURN
In an interview with The Asahi Shimbun, Tetsuya Chiba, 82, talked about his experiences during the pandemic.
Born in Tokyo in 1939, Chiba spent his early childhood in former Manchuria (present-day northeastern China). He is best known for boxing manga "Ashita no Joe" ("Tomorrow's Joe"), "Notari Matsutaro," and many other works.
Excerpts of the interview follow:
Question: How has your life changed in the last year?
Tetsuya Chiba: We manga artists can't work unless we hole up in our homes. Or rather, I can get more work done now. But it's a shame not to be able to visit places and meet people for my research.
When I worked on the sumo manga "Notari Matsutaro," I went to a sumo stable. As I watched the wrestlers in the training room, I could smell their sweat, the salt sprinkled on the ring and the blood from the abrasions they sustained when they were thrown into a roll. I can create vivid drawings only after I experience those things.
Now, I do research on the internet and ask my son to go to places. But he takes photos with more details than I capture, so maybe I can draw better than before.
Q: How do you feel now, with seemingly no end in sight to the pandemic?
A: I hope we all think about new ways so that we can be a little smarter and become friendlier to the Earth.
Nowadays, our values are fundamentally changing. I feel that the times are about to change in a big way. We are in a challenging time, but I have hope that when we come through it, our wonderful daily lives will be back, and I live every day looking forward to seeing it happen.
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