by Shigeru Mizuki
It's kind of strange reading Nonnonba so soon after I completed Mizuki's first Showa book, as it covers much of the same material. That book is a mixture between personal autobiography and straight history book, examining Mizuki's childhood in a small town in Japan in the 1920s and 30s.
In Nonnonba, Mizuki focuses on his childhood, his relationship with the old woman who often worked for his family in a domestic capacity, and their shared belief in the rich spirit world of Japanese mythology and folk tradition.
Young Shige gets up to some pretty usual boyhood stuff, fighting with the kids from a different neighbourhood, visiting a 'haunted house', and drawing about his experiences. He does terribly in school, and often exasperates his mother.
Nonnonba's familial relationship to Shige or his family is never made very clear, but it is obvious that the two care very deeply for one another. She teaches him about the various spiritual creatures that live all around them, and as the book progresses, Shige gets to know a few of them on a personal level.
This is an interesting book. It shows a touching example of inter-generational friendship, and helps document a way of life that is now gone. I feel like Showa, which is supposed to be a broad examination of Japan's history, does a better job of explaining minute details about the mangaka's life, but this book is much more affecting and charming.