On March 7th, Manga Artist Yoshihiro Tatsumi passed away at the ripe age of 79. Although he may not have had any world-famous manga titles to his name, his contribution to the manga world was one of the greatest.
Tatsumi, born in Osaka in 1935, decided to become a manga artist after reading Osamu Tezuka’s titles in junior high school. However, he become bored drawing conventional manga for children and began searching for something new. Doing away with exaggerated styles and gags, he developed a more realistic style with flowing movements. At the end of 1957, he named this new style “Gekiga”.
Together with Takao Saito, who later created the bestselling hit Golgo 13, he founded “Gekiga Kobo (Gekiga Studio)”. Regularly incorporating action and violence into their work, they tackled social issues and problems of the time, causing a stir in the industry. This “Gekiga boom” greatly influenced and advanced development of Japanese Manga.
From 1960 onwards, he drew short stories that featured protagonists from the lower classes of Japanese society, to a critical acclaim domestically as well as outside of Japan. In 2006, at the San Diego Comic-Con international, he received a special award for his efforts to make manga into something that adults can appreciate.
In recent years, he published an autobiography (A Drifting Life, 2008) and received the Grand Prize at the 13th Osamu Tezuka Cultural Awards. In 2011, a Singaporean director named Eric Khoo created an animated documentary called Tatsumi, based on A Drifting Life and some of Tatsumi’s other works.
The man who, over a century ago, created a new manga style, Gekiga, and revolutionized the manga world: Yoshihiro Tatsumi. I hope that you will remember his name.