Contribution to Book
Manga and the Representation of Japanese History
London and New York
Routledge Contemporary Japan Series
In 2005, Japanese manga artist and conservative provocateur Kobayashi Yoshinori published a graphic work entitled Shin gōmanizumu sengen special: Yasukuniron (Neo-Gōmanism Manifesto Special: On Yasukuni), which tackles the much-debated ‘problem’ of Yasukuni Shrine, the militaristic religious complex that has become a lightning-rod for debates regarding Japanese historical memory – especially with regard to the military expansionism in East Asia that led to the Asia-Pacific War (1931–45). Frequently overlooked in discussions of Yasukuni, however, are a number of complex issues related to its religious doctrines – in particular, the interpretation of Shinto presented at Yasukuni and the dominant ideology of Japan’s military era: ‘State Shinto’ (kokka Shintō). This essay examines the portrayal of the Yasukuni Issue within Yasukuniron, in order to: (a) flesh out the characteristics of Kobayashi’s Neo-Gōmanism in relation to the ‘theology’ of State Shinto; (b) examine the power and limits of manga as a representational form for teaching about the complex nexus of religion, politics and history in modern Japan; and (c) make the case that Yasukuni Shrine itself has long functioned as a form of ‘revisionist manga’ – and is thus the perfect subject for Kobayashi’s Neo-Gōmanist treatment.
Shields, James, "'Land of Kami, Land of the Dead': Paligenesis and the Aesthetics of Religious Revisionism in Kobayashi Yoshinori's 'On Yasukuni'" (2012). Faculty Contributions to Books. 93.
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