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As Gekiga ( Jap. 劇画 , dt. "Pictures drama" or "dramatic pictures") is called a motion of comics in Japan, extending from the consideration for more serious stories unsuitable term Manga wanted to stand out, much later, the term graphic novel in the USA. In contrast to the children's comics by Osamu Tezuka , for example, which were popular at the time , but also to the funny Yonkoma newspaper strips popular with adults, Gekiga had drawn more realistic, serious acts and contained social criticism, often combined with violence and eroticism.


The young, hitherto unknown draftsmen, who called their works Gekiga in the 1950s , worked for publishers who published specifically for lending libraries ( Kashihonya ). Some of the artists, including Shigeru Mizuki and Sanpei Shirato , had previously drawn for Kamishibai , or wandering picture theater. After the end of World War II , lending libraries became increasingly popular, as the majority of the population could not buy books and the lending libraries, often on street corners and train stations, offered a cheap alternative. The number of lending libraries grew exponentially and was at its peak in the mid-1950s with around 30,000 locations. Publishers who published specifically for lending libraries gave their artists more artistic freedom in book and magazine publications than mainstream children's magazines.

The two most successful Kashihonya comic magazines were Kage ( , dt. "Shadow", founded in 1956 in Osaka ) and Machi ( , dt. "City", founded in 1957 in Nagoya ), which reached up to 160,000 readers, mainly young men . Some of the draftsmen for Kage and Machi found other names for their stories to differentiate themselves from the popular term "Manga" (Eng. "Informal / unbridled images") and the associated image of a funny comic for children. Yoshihiro Tatsumi's name "Gekiga" gradually caught on from the publication of his manga Yūrei Takushi (Eng. "The Ghost Taxi") in 1957. Yoshihiro Tatsumi, Takao Saitō and others founded a collective of young draftsmen in 1959 in order to be able to promote the movement more effectively and thus to get higher salaries, and called themselves Gekiga Studio . Although this was only short-lived in its six-month existence, it had a major impact.

The highlight of the gekiga in the lending libraries was the series Ninja Bugeichō by Sanpei Shirato, published in 17 books from 1959 to 1962 , in which topics such as revolution and class struggle are treated in a ninja drama scenario.

When the Japanese economy experienced a boom and more and more readers bought books directly instead of borrowing them, the lending libraries became less important. The establishment of the weekly mainstream magazines Shōnen Magazine and Shōnen Sunday is seen as the end of the heyday of the manga in lending libraries; however, some publishers were able to hold out until the late 1960s.

In 1964, Sanpei Shirato and Katsuichi Nagai founded a magazine for Gekiga, the Garo . In this the draftsmen were published who had previously brought out their often dark works in the lending libraries, including Yoshiharu Tsuge . Garo grew in importance over time - the magazine became particularly popular among students - so that it also had an impact on the mainstream. The Shigeru Mizuki, who until then had specialized in gekiga, found new platforms with the publication of Shōnen manga in magazines of large publishers, and Osamu Tezuka took the gekiga as a model for finding more innovative stories and a changed drawing style.

From 1967 onwards, large publishers also founded magazines such as Big Comic and Manga Action for adult readers, combining the comic flight from reality of the beautiful manga with the adult content and the detailed drawings of the gekiga . These so-called his- manga replaced the gekiga over time and also led to the fact that this term has become less and less common since then. Only a few draftsmen, including Takao Saitō (known today through Golgo 13 ), refer to their works as "Gekiga".


The Gekiga draftsmen at the lending libraries took over the creation of tension and storytelling techniques from the cinema. Jason Thompson writes, for example, Gekiga "focused on gloomy big city stories, influenced by contemporary Japanese cinema and film noir ."


Individual evidence

  1. a b c Sharon Kinsella: Adult Manga. Culture & Power in Contemporary Japanese Society . Curzon Press, London 2000, ISBN 0-7007-1004-3 , pp. 24ff. (English)
  2. Jaqueline Berndt : Phenomenon Manga . edition q, Berlin 1995, ISBN 3-86124-289-3 , p. 56.
  3. ^ Ryan Holmberg: Charting the Beginnings . In: The Comics Journal , March 6, 2011. Retrieved online April 27, 2013.
  4. a b Jason Thompson: Manga. The Complete Guide . Del Rey, New York 2007, ISBN 978-0345485908 , p. 380. (English)
  5. Jason Thompson, p. 327.