...bibliographic notes about manga...

The Fumio Fujiki and Tokio Tobita Collection of Manga, Part I

The following is Part I of a two-part essay that was previously published on the Spotlights blog of the The North American Coordinating Council on Japanese Library Resources (NCC). It was co-written by Jeremy Joseph (OSU Class of 2024) and Japanese Studies Librarian, Dr. Ann Marie Davis. Note: To conform with library collection titles, all Japanese names in this article follow Western conventions with given names appearing first and family names last.

The cover page of Sugamo Life

Figure 1. The cover page of Sugamo Life, a sketch book containing 65 rough cartoons by convicted war criminal Fumio Fujiki. The original art cover verso has a brief handwritten description identifying the images as rough sketches from Sugamo Prison sent by request to the U.S. Department of State. Watercolor and ink, 20 × 28 cm. Fumio Fujiki and Tokio Tobita collection, The Ohio State University, Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum; SPEC.CGA.SUG.2012

Emblematic of rare and distinctive manga collection at OSU is the Fumio Fujiki and Tokio Tobita Collection, held at the University Libraries’ Billy Ireland Cartoon & Library Museum (BICLM). Stored in a full-size document box (measuring 5 inches in width), the collection is relatively small, yet offers a seismic punch. Its many files of sketches and cartoons offer first hand testimony to the daily experiences of roughly 2,000 alleged and convicted war criminals incarcerated at Sugamo Prison (巣鴨拘置所 Sugamo Kōchiso) after World War II. The sketches also reveal everyday interactions between Japanese Prisoners of War and American guards during the post-war occupation era (1945-52). The act of producing such art was, in itself, a significant gesture that not only reduced the anxieties of prison life but also served as a vehicle for meaningful exchanges between the Japanese inmates and American GIs running the prison.

Sugamo Prison History and the Post-War Occupation

Sugamo Prison was the main prison for Japanese war criminal suspects and convicts after World War II. Located in northwest Tokyo, it was about a ten-minute walk east of present-day Ikebukuro Railway Station and designed as a modern, state-of-the-art facility modeled after European prisons at the turn of the 20th century. By the 1930s, it gained notoriety as an incarceration facility for political prisoners including communist party members and sympathizers. Allied officers, spies and airmen joined the ranks of the incarcerated there in the 1940s.

Artistic rendering of Sugamo Prison

Figure 2. Artistic rendering of Sugamo Prison. One of 75 original drawings by Fumio Fujiki used in the book Nakiwarai Sugamo nikki (1953) and Sugamo densetsu (1966). Pencil/Paper/Ink, 20 × 28 cm. Fumio Fujiki and Tokio Tobita collection, The Ohio State University, Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum; SPEC.CGA.SUG.2012.

1949 aerial view of Sugamo Prison

Figure 3. 1949 aerial view of Sugamo Prison with the prison sports field visible in front and baseball diamond visible in back. Courtesy of Wikimedia.

When Japan surrendered in 1945, the US Army took control of the prison to hold suspected war criminals in anticipation of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE). Not coincidentally, Sugamo Prison was one of the few sites that remained completely intact despite the destructive US Army Air Force firebombing raids in Tokyo in the 1940s. Following the Tokyo Trials, the prison saw the execution of the seven military leaders, including General Hideki Tojo (東條 英機, Tōjō Hideki), architects of the war who were sentenced to death by hanging for “Class A” war crimes, or “crimes against peace.” The remaining “Class B” and “C” inmates (convicted of “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity” respectively) served out their sentences at Sugamo until May 1952. When the Occupation ended, control of the prison was transferred to the Japanese civilian government, and the remaining inmates were eventually pardoned or released on parole. Ultimately in 1962, Sugamo Prison ceased to function, and in the 1970s, it was demolished and replaced by the Sunshine 60 (サンシャイン60, Sanshain rokujū), the then tallest skyscraper in Asia.

Bill Barrette and the Sugamo Project

Throughout the Allied Occupation (1945-52), a total of 2500 American GIs of the Eighth US Army patrolled and guarded Sugamo Prison. Among these, five hundred soldiers were needed at any given time to serve as jailers and guards. Typically 17 to 19 years of age, only young recruits who had never seen active combat were chosen for this post. Upon completing their tours in Asia, many of the American guards felt nostalgic for the unexpected relationships they formed with the war criminals under their care. Buoyed by the rituals of daily life and gift giving, some held onto the prisoners’ handmade gifts and sketches for the rest of their lives, and some corresponded with the inmates for decades. Many shared these cherished mementos with other American veterans at reunions into the early 2000s (Barrette 2013).

The present collection at OSU came into existence through the research of Bill Barrette, an artist from New York and the younger relative of one of Sugamo’s former jailers, George Picard. At a family reunion in the late 1990s, Barrette learned with fascination about Picard’s various keepsakes, which he had saved from the prison for a half a century. Among these objects, Barrette discovered, were several delicate pencil drawings, including portraits and a sketch of a prison cell.

What ensued was dubbed the Sugamo Project, a collaboration in which Bill Barrette, Midori Sato, and Toyota Naurmi began collecting surviving mementos and drawings, mainly at the reunions of military veterans in the US, and from the artists Tokio Tobita and Fumio Fujiki in Japan. As Barrette once said of the Project, these artifacts show “how art and history might benefit from each other… [and the art] deals with issues like the politics of memory — who gets to tell the story and how…” (Wakin, 2004).

One of 65 rough sketches from the “Sugamo Life Sketchbook” by Fumio Fujiki

Figure 4. One of 65 rough sketches from the “Sugamo Life Sketchbook” by Fumio Fujiki. Text typed and mounted in English reveals the amusement of American guards as they observe Sugamo inmates playing baseball on prison grounds. Pencil on paper, 20.5 × 26.7 cm. Fumio Fujiki and Tokio Tobita collection, The Ohio State University, Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum; SPEC.CGA.SUG.2012.

Eventually, enough Sugamo-related research accumulated to result in several exhibitions. The third and final exhibition, “Encounters: Sugamo Prison 1945-52; The American Occupation of Japan and Memories of the Asia Pacific War,” was held in April 2003 at the East Asian Library at Princeton University. The exhibit was followed by a 3-day symposium, convened by Martin Collcutt, then Director of East Asian Studies, where scholars and former inhabitants of the prison, including Tobita, appeared and presented papers.

Many of the collected keepsakes, which had been on extended loan from Army veterans, later had to be returned. However, other important materials as well as interviews and research papers came together as a result of the project. Barette’s team recorded extensive videotape footage of the exhibitions and conversations with Tobita, Fujiki, and many of the American soldier collectors of the Sugamo drawings (Powell and Du, 2015). Following Fujiki’s passing in 2004, his widow donated all of her late husband’s materials to the OSU Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum. A former Sugamo prison guard, B. A. “Buck” Langdon, gifted additional Tobita drawings to OSU. Thus, the works of the two most important Sugamo visual artists and the namesakes of the collection were preserved for research and teaching. Since their donation, high resolution images of these materials have been reformatted and are now accessible online via The Ohio State University Libraries’ Digital Collections.

End of Part I. (Part II Coming Soon).

References and Further Reading

C-kyū senpan ga suketchishita Sugamo Purizun. (Tokio Tobita, 2011)

“Escaping Sugamo Prison with a no. 2 pencil: the drawings of Japanese war criminal Tobita Tokio.” Visual Studies, Vol. 30, No. 1. (Powell and Du, 2015)

I was defeated / a translation from the Japanese. (Yoshio Kodama, 1951)

Nakiwarai Sugamo nikki. (Fumio Fujiki, 1953).

Sugamo densetsu : manga de tsuzuru Sugamo Purizun to GI. (Fumio Fujiki, 1994)

Sugamo life : prison arts under American occupation, 1945-52. (Bill Barrette, 2013)

Sugamo Prison, Tokyo : an account of the trial and sentencing of Japanese war criminals in 1948, by a U.S. participant. (John L. Ginn, 1992)

Sugamo Purizun : kyōkaishi Hanayama Shinshō to shikei senpan no kiroku (Hirotada Kobayashi, 1999)

Donation: The Miyake Collection

Cover image of a newly ingested issue
of Mangajin, Vol. 1, No. 4, October 1990.

Recently we received a wonderful donation of manga and manga ephemera from Dr. Lynne Miyake, manga scholar and Emerita Professor of Japanese at Pomona College. With a plethora of unique titles, I’d like to introduce just a few of the exciting finds that are now available through this donation!

Are you a fan of manga magazines? If so, this is the collection for you. The Miyake donation adds 94 manga volumes from a variety of genres and titles from the years 2002 to 2016 to our holdings. These include lesser-known to more mainstream titles such as Shonen Jump, Morning, Cheri+, Ciel, OTAKU USA, and more. Many of these volumes fill in gaps in our catalog for circulating manga as well as special collections at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum. For instance, thanks to the Miyake donation (which adds volumes from May through December 2003), our holdings of of Shonen Jump now run uninterrupted from 2003 to 2009!

Kashimashi Vol. 1 by Satoru Akahori
(あかほりさとる) and illustrated
by Yukimaru Katsura (桂遊生丸)

If understanding Japanese manga in translation or research on earlier manga culture is your thing, you’ll be happy to hear that we have also ingested three additional volumes of Mangajin, the definitive manga magazine in the U.S. pre-2000, dating from 1990 and 1993.

Aside from these, the majority of the magazines are from well-known boys’ love (BL) publications, a welcome addition to the Cartoon Library collection, which emphasizes LGBT+ titles. In fact, one of the strengths of this donation is its LGBT+ offerings, both in English and Japanese.

For example, we now have several volumes of Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl, a quirky yuri (or “girls love”) comedy about a male student who dies and is resurrected as female. Suddenly the girl she likes, who is only capable of noticing other girls, is falling for her. But soon a love triangle forms and the complicated story twists even more! Though it may seem strange on the surface, this title has been praised for its unique story and characters and is definitely worth a look.

Tokyo Babylon written and
illustrated by CLAMP

We also now have volumes one through seven of Tokyo Babylon in English, a series mentioned in our April 2021 blog “Checking Out Manga.” Published by acclaimed all-female manga circle CLAMP, “Tokyo Babylon” chronicles sorcerer Subaru’s work solving mysteries while adding a boys’ love twist later into the plot.

Finally, this donation also adds several unique art books to the distinctive holdings, held at BICLM. Of these, possibly the most stunning is Der Mond: The Art of Neon Genesis Evangelion based on the tremendously popular manga and anime series Neon genesis Evangelion. This art book is for the fans especially, but also those who are interested in learning more about the visuals. A large format print, the book brings to life the world of Evangelion’s manga adaptation in full color.

Der Mond by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto

There are so many more books as well as other rare and distinctive materials, including posters, conference booklets, and even original art! Stay tuned as we continue to process these unique materials and make them available for research and teaching.  In the mean time, we’d like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Professor Miyake for her generous donation!

A Near-Complete Run: The Bungei Shunjū, Manga Tokuhon Magazine Series

We are proud to announce that we now have a near-complete run of Bungei Shunjū: Manga Tokuhon (文藝春秋 漫画讀本), a core manga magazine of the 20th century. Held at the Libraries’ Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum, the series is comprised of 170 volumes published from the 1950s to 1970s. With this recent acquisition, Ohio State has the largest holdings of this title in North America.

“Special Issue” label Manga
in [5 Sept. 1950]

The parent magazine of Bungei Shunjū: Manga Tokuhon, Bungei Shunjū, was established by Kan Kikuchi (菊池寛) in 1923 and began as an essay magazine. Still in publication today, it contains a variety of essays and critiques written by individuals from all disciplines; artists, politicians, historians, journalists, and more. Though it has a historically conservative slant, Bungei Shunjū has featured articles by authors of all political persuasions.

In 1954, mangaka and animator Ryūichi Yokoyama (横山隆一) approached the CEO of Bungei Shunjū about creating a special edition of solely manga. They immediately phoned the special editions manager, Hiroichi Tagawa (田川博一), and not long after, Manga Tokuhon was born. Though initially its issues were categorized as “special issues” of Bungei Shunjū, it became published as its own magazine with the March 1958 issue. Throughout its run, Manga Tokuhon featured the works of many famous mangaka, including Astro Boy creator and industry legend Osamu Tezuka (手塚治虫).

April issue [1 April 1958]
of Manga Tokuhon

The magazine sold around 300,000 copies in its heyday, yet publication ceased in 1970. After that, two more issues were released as limited edition Bungei Shunjū magazines, comprised of re-prints of prior Manga Tokuhon publications. Since then, the world of Manga Tokuhon has gone dark.

July issue [1 July 1959] of Manga

Shedding light on the state of manga as its popularity took off in intellectual circles as well as mainstream media, this fascinating series holds a critical place in the history of manga magazines and modern manga as a whole. As a repository with particular strengths in original comic strips and manga serials throughout the twentieth century, we are thrilled to make this series available to researchers through the University Libraries. Interested parties can head to the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum desk to inquire about using these materials.

Story Spotlight: The Train Man who fell in Love with the Girl, Hermes

After a wee bit of a hiatus, the manga blog is back in business! Although this is a terribly busy time for many people, I’d like to bring to your attention one of the most-read Japanese books since 2000 for your possible reading pleasure. Whether you pick it up now or later, this is a great choice to cozy up with after graduation season.

Densha Otoko (電車男) by Hitori
Nakano, PL873.5.A55 D46 2005

Hitori Nakano’s (中野独人) Densha Otoko (電車男), or “Train Man,” took Japan by storm in 2004. With its unique presentation and quirky plot, it quickly became a sensation across the nation. Densha Otoko details the efforts of our main character, the eponymous “train man,” to romance a woman with whom he had but a brief meeting with after an incident on a train commute. The catch? The train man has never been on a date and has no idea where to start.

If you’ve been on the internet at all over the last 20 years, you may know of 4Channel, or “4Chan.” What you may not know is that the anonymous message board was born out of its (at the time) slightly less problematic predecessor, 2ちゃんねる (ni-channeru), or “2Chan.” Herein lies the unique element of this love story: it plays out entirely over 2Chan. After the aforementioned train incident, in which our hero takes a risk to help several middle-aged women out when an old drunkard harasses them, he acquires the phone number of the one young woman also affected. Wanting to ask her to dinner but lacking any idea how to do this, he takes to 2Chan to share his story and romantic ineptitude. Surprisingly, the people of 2Chan begin to advise him on how to get a date, which quickly snowballs as he meets success. Soon, he is giving his 2Chan helpers progress updates as they continue to aid him toward maybe, just maybe, confessing his feelings for the girl…

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Our New and Improved Manga Resource Guide

By Chase Conner

Some of you may have already noticed that our Manga Studies library resource guide has gotten a facelift. If you haven’t checked it out lately, now is the time for a fresh visit! With the recent updates, we wanted our manga guide to better reflect the diversity of our collection and simplify access for researchers and students.

 The most notable change to this guide is its visual overhaul. Upon opening the page, you will be greeted with a lovely assortment of photos of some of our rare and distinctive manga materials stored at The OSU Libraries’ Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum. On the right panel, you will now find a navigation box for searching our online library catalog for any piece or title that catches your interest. We’ve also added links to a key word search and a list of manga genre terms to help narrow your online catalog search.

Also on this refreshed guide, you’ll find a showcase of selected manga titles that are available in circulation at OSU. From time to time, we will update this showcase, so please visit us regularly to learn about the latest additions to the collections!

Another change to this guide is a panel of links to manga and anime journals, other relevant OSU library resources, and a small showcase of circulating materials in manga studies. These showcases are by no means a comprehensive but serve as a launching point for helping you find what you need. 

Whether for leisure or research purposes, we hope our new layout will make searching for manga more appealing and approachable. Please check it out sometime and let us know if you have any questions or suggestions for further improvements!

Checking Out Manga — LGBT+ Manga and the Nova Southeastern Donation

Vol. 1 cover art illustrated by CLAMP

By Chase Conner

As a student worker this year, one of my jobs was to help build the manga collection by identifying and recommending a number of new acquisitions. I’m excited to say that many of these included titles with an LGBT focus!

In anticipation of their arrival, I’d like revisit a blog from 2017 about a large donation from Nova Southeastern University that also contained a number of interesting LGBT manga. With over 180 titles, this donation covered a variety of diverse genres and titles spanning the 80’s, 90’s and early 2000’s. Given its LGBT strengths, I decided to take a closer look.

Tokyo Babylon (東京BABYLON):

Among the notable titles in this donation is Tokyo Babylon, a series that ran from 1990 to 1993 and follows the story of Subaru Sumeragi, the 13th head of a sorcerer family known as omnyōji. Published by Shinshokan, Tokyo Babylon was written by the acclaimed all-female manga circle known as CLAMP, who are also known for titles like Cardcaptor Sakura and Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, among others.  Their works span a wide variety of themes, including publications in the genre known as BL (Boy’s Love) such as Saint Seiya.

The series Tokyo Babylon begins with a set of self-contained stories about Subaru’s work as an omnyōji solving mysteries relating to the occult. The main drama comes in to play with the introduction of a man named Seishirou who claims to be in love with Subaru. Subaru’s sister, Hokuto, encourages this male-male relationship, but there is more to Seishirou than he lets on. For one, the two may have met once before, and Seishirou’s goals may be in conflict with Subaru’s.

Tokyo Babylon is known for being one of the first mainstream titles to explore homosexual themes, although readers must wait until later in the story to find them. Certain aspects of the plot show their age, such as the ending, which could be said to be a bit tragic for the characters, and the large age difference between the characters of Subaru and Seishirou, which might not sit well with modern audiences. The series X (Ekkisu), a sequel to Tokyo Babylon, is a continuation of some of the plot threads from Tokyo Babylon while focusing on a new set of protagonists. The ultimate fate of the characters of Tokyo Babylon is explored in more detail in this latter series.

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Checking Out Manga – Three Online Manga Readers

Image: Screen Captures of 3 Featured Manga Reader Catalogs:
ShonenJump+, Manga Library Z, and Sukima

By Chase Conner

Hello again, everyone. I hope the new year is being kind to you all. Today we’d like to return to our list of online manga resources compiled originally by Michiko Ito at UKansas. So let’s look at some of the list’s “Open Access Comics,” which allow us to read manga for free online! There is a plethora of content available on the Internet these days, and many manga publishers have jumped on the bandwagon to provide online comic apps. In addition to newly published manga, we can find many out-of-print comics that have found new life through online manga readers. Let’s get started and take a look at a few resources for accessing some.

ShonenJump+ Website Banner

少年ジャンプ+ (Shonen Jump+)

Shonen Jump has always been a big name in the industry and one that anyone with a passing interest in manga is likely aware of. Given its vast influence and collection of popular print titles, it’s no surprise that Shonen Jump is a leader in the digital comic market. On the Shonen Jump+ site, many segments of their popular manga titles — including One Piece, Death Note, Dragonball, Naruto, and more – are available at no cost! A good number of chapters are available for free, but newer chapters require the purchase of “points,” which users must redeem in order to read. While paying for points is certainly an option, this post aims to highlight its many great “open access” offerings as well.

MangaToshokanZ Website Banner

マンガ図書館Z (Manga Library Z) []

マンガ図書館Z (manga toshokan Z) or Manga Library Z is another site that offers plenty of manga completely free of charge. Specifically, the titles included here include numerous out-of-print series that have been granted uploading rights by the original creators. While its various titles are not as widely known as Shonen Jump+’s, researchers and manga fans alike will certainly value this web site for its older and off-the-beaten-path titles. In addition to the many free manga on this site, there is also some adult-oriented manga, which are locked behind a paywall. Because you might encounter images of these adult titles while browsing the front page, I would advise exercising caution when browsing, especially if you have privacy concerns.

Sukima Website Banner


Sukima is yet another valuable online resource for reading manga in Japanese. The Sukima site essentially operates like many other online manga readers that sell access to large collections of titles — including the more recent volumes – through a pay-per-point redemption system. Despite this limitation, I find that Sukima’s big appeal is that it also offers a plethora of new and old manga titles completely free of charge! It’s true that the open access manga tend to lean towards older and lesser known titles, but among these you’ll also find some of the popular classic titles like Kimagure Orange Road or even more recent titles like Gokushufudō (Way of the House Husband). You’ll definitely want to take a trip through Sukima’s library. While an account is not required to read the free manga, users must create a username and password to purchase or peruse some of the more mature titles for the 18-and-over crowd.

I recommend that anyone check out these three sites to see what titles you can find — You may just find something new and interesting! If you encounter something that you would you like to read in print at OSU Libraries, please feel free to contact OSU’s Japanese Studies Librarian, Ann Marie Davis,  at, with questions and suggestions.


Learning Japanese with Comics – Three Helpful Manga Series

By Chase Conner

Hello again, everyone! I hope you all had a safe and enjoyable holiday. If you are a language student like myself, then you might recognize that textbooks and class exercises can only carry you so far. It might be time to branch out into other areas to further your language comprehension and even apply your knowledge in more practical ways. To that end, why not try your hand at reading some comics? While many of us are fans of manga translated or written in English, we haven’t yet taken the plunge into reading manga in Japanese.

Reading comics is a great way to put your acquired foreign language skills into practice. More importantly, it’s a fun way to build more skills. For students of Japanese, manga is an easy-to-use resource for putting all the kanji you’ve learned into context. The sound effects in manga also offer fundamental lessons. Since Japanese is a language in which mimetic words (onomatopoeia and the like) are used regularly, it’s a good idea to start familiarizing yourself with Japanese’s vast library of sound symbolic words and phrases!

Not sure where to start your manga journey? Then this blog is for you! In this post, I will recommend three titles from the  OSU collections that offer great places to start.

Yotsuba&! (よつばと!)by Kiyohiko Azuma

Available in both Japanese and English, this series is a slice-of-life/comedy that follows the daily life of the titular character, Yotsuba Koiwai, and her comical naivety. The title is so popular that chances are, you may have already heard of this series!

Yotsuba& is often hailed by many as a great entry manga for those learning Japanese, and it’s easy to see why. The plots are generally self-contained and easy to follow, the vocabulary is not too complicated, and more importantly, it’s a fun and charming read! The series is so widely read that a simple Google search will yield a number of digitized copies and even helpful vocabulary lists and more! Since OSU has the first twelve volumes in the original Japanese, I’ve taken the liberty of borrowing them from the library myself and have been enjoying them thoroughly while stuck at home.

Shirokuma Café(白くまカフェby Aloha Higa

Shirokuma Café, or “Polar Bear Café”, is another comedic slice-of-life manga (are you noticing a trend here?) starring a trio of zoo animals: Polar Bear, Panda, and Penguin. The three often get involved in various misadventures with other animals and humans. This is another good manga to utilize for studying purposes as, similar to Yotsuba&, it’s relatively simple to follow and makes use of many common vocabulary words and expressions. For better or worse,  the character of Polar Bear has a tendency to love using puns within the story, so if you are just getting acquainted with Japanese, some of them may be confusing and hard to understand. Currently, we have volumes 1-5 available in Japanese.

Chi’s Sweet Home (チーズスイートホーム)by Kanata Konami

This is a series for all the cat lovers out there. Chi is a little kitten that has gotten separated from her mother and is taken in by the Yamada family, after she is discovered by the Yamada’s young son. In the end, he decides to keep her and raise her in their home, and what ensues are cute and silly cat antics as Chi tries to make sense of her home. This is yet another, you guessed it, slice-of-life manga.  The first 4 volumes of the Japanese version are available at the library, as well as 11 volumes in English. This is a really relaxing read with a cute and simple art style that will endear readers to Chi’s character, and it is very easy for beginners of Japanese to pick up!

These three titles are by no means an exhaustive list of language learning-friendly manga.  However, they are among the most highly recommended for students of all levels. With a good amount of supplemental resources such as online vocabulary lists and bilingual translations, they will give you plenty to do during the first winter months of 2021! Take a look if you’re interested!



Checking out Manga – “This is Gakushū Manga, too!”

Written by Chase Conner (Class of 2021), with intro by Ann Marie L. Davis

Last March, shortly after the pandemic lockdown, I posted the blog “Manga Resources While Teaching and Learning from Home.” Since then, I have wanted to explore its many sites and share what I learned with everyone here. This semester, with the help of manga enthusiast and Japanese Studies major, Chase Conner (Class of 2021), we’re finally able to do this! In the new blog series, “Checking out Manga,” Chase will evaluate online manga resources as well as relevant print manga that can be checked out (literally!) from OSU Libraries. With each post, the series will highlight at least one open access manga site as well as related print manga available at our library. For the very first post in this series, Chase explores the site Kore mo gakushū manga da (これも学習マンガだ, or “This is Gakushū Manga, too”) below.


Image of the “This is Gakushū Manga, too!” home page.

Hello, everyone! It’s autumn already, and you know what that means: it’s the perfect time to relax somewhere cozy with a good book or comic to read and appreciate the scenery. Hopefully, we can help you find something interesting while furthering your studies along the way! Today we’re going to be looking into one of the websites included in the wonderful list of online manga resources compiled by Michiko Ito of the University of Kansas. Since many students and faculty are looking for interesting teaching and learning tools, I feel that the best place to start is with the site Kore mo gakushū manga da (これも学習マンガだ).

What is Gakushū Manga?

First things first — What is gakushū manga (学習マンガ)? Translated as “educational manga” or “manga study guides,” gakushū manga is a sub-genre of Japanese comics intended to teach readers about a specific topic in a variety of academic disciplines.  In addition to targeting elementary and high school students (studying history, math, art, or literature, for example), gakushū manga is also written for adults seeking information on topics from home improvement to budgeting, folk crafting, and more!

A List of 200 Recommended Gakushū Manga and Manga Learning Supplements

The web site Kore mo gakushū manga da offers a nifty compilation of manga titles that are not strictly gakushū manga, but that cover various academic topics that can be used as learning supplements. Compiled by the Nippon Foundation, its listings are tailored to promote manga that offer “fun while learning,” an idea known as “edutainment.” Its list currently includes 200 titles divided into eleven different categories (such as history, lifestyle, literature, and sports).  Visitors to this website can view the list at a glance by downloading the website handbook, or they can browse these categories online. Though the website is written entirely in Japanese, its recommendations are created with both native Japanese speakers and language learners in mind. Therefore, it can be a great learning resource whether you’re interested in reading comics in Japanese or finding English translations. Kore mo Gakushū Manga itself is not a resource that links to actual full text manga. Instead, it points readers to different works for use in Japanese Studies and language acquisition.

Browsing the List of Manga

One of the first things users will see when visiting Gakushū Manga is the genre search bar, which lists the Foundation’s eleven different categories.  Clicking on any one of these will show you all the manga within that category.

From right to left, the categories are Literature, Life and World, Art, Society, Work, History, War, Living, Science and Learning, Sports, and Diverse Topics. If you have a good idea what you’re looking for, you can narrow your search even more, with options to choose the date when the work was added to the collection, whether its series has ended or is still ongoing, and whether its age appropriate for younger readers (though it may do well to keep in mind that what is considered appropriate for younger audiences may differ across cultures)! When the search engine returns its results, each title has a handy hyperlink to a page with author and artist info, as well as a short blurb about the contents of the work and the reason for its inclusion in the list of recommendations.

The collection includes familiar titles to fans of modern manga, such as Fullmetal Alchemist and Mushishi, as well as older classics

Keeping in mind the intent of the site, any of the recommended manga would serve as great resources for learning Japanese language, history, culture, and much more!

Accessing and reading these manga at OSU Libraries

If anything piques your interest, the site provides further information on how to purchase the titles from several online Japanese retailers. Moreover, a good number of these comics can be found in Japanese and English translation in OSU’s manga collection! Therefore, we encourage our users to have a look! Most of these titles (about 65% of OSU’s manga collection) are circulating and therefore can be freely borrowed from OSU Libraries.  Still others might be housed in special collections and can be viewed in the Reading Room (with an appointment during the pandemic) at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum. For titles that are not yet part of our manga collection, OSU students and faculty are strongly encouraged to reach out and make a request! You can provide suggestions and feedback to help build our manga collection by contacting OSU’s Japanese Studies Librarian, Ann Marie Davis, anytime at

Additional links and resources:

For a closer look into gakushū manga available at OSU Libraries: Educational manga (学習漫画) at Ohio State Libraries:

For those interested in English translations of Koremo gakushū manga da’s contents, one need look no further than that of the the Japan Foundation: Japan Foundation’s “Kore mo gakushū manga da” catalogue.


“PICTURE THIS: Traveling Through Time with Japanese Art and Manga”! K-12 Webinar Featuring Rare Tōkaidō Manga Scrolls

Come join us in an upcoming webinar on the “Journey along the Tōkaidō,” a set of engaging online K-12 teaching resources highlighting Japanese art, history, and geography. Entitled PICTURE THIS: Traveling Through Time with Japanese Art and Manga,” the event, slated for October 10, 2020, is open to teachers and administrators from any state. Participants will discover new ways to engage students in this exploration of Japan’s most important trade route, the Eastern Sea Route (the Tōkaidō) with a special focus on the rare Tōkaidō manga scrolls, housed at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum (BICLM).  The historic Tōkaidō Road once connected the political capital of Edo (present-day Tokyo) to the former imperial capital of Kyoto during the Tokugawa era (1603-1868).  Suitable for remote and in-person teaching, the lessons of the “Journey along the Tōkaidō” emphasize change over time while comparing global cultures through the lenses of art and manga from Early Modern and Modern Japan (ca. 1800s to 1930s).  

Illustrated Japanese scroll among other Billy Ireland manga pieces

In the image above, the Tōkaidō manga scrolls are on display at a recent open house. The bottom half of the image shows the first two watercolors of scroll number one (上): Nihonbashi and Shinjuku Stations. In the upper left corner is the second scroll (下), nesting in its wooden containing box. To the right of the box is a rare picture book of the Great Kantō Earthquake (1923), also created by the Tokyo Manga Association.

The Tōkaidō Manga Scrolls

Formally titled “Tōkaidō gojūsantsugi manga emaki,” the Tōkaidō manga scrolls were hand painted by 18 members of the Tokyo Manga Association around 1921. Their unique visual depictions of the various sites along the Tōkaidō offered a compelling interpretation of pre-war manga vis-à-vis The 53 stations along the Tōkaidō (Tōkaidō Gojūsan-tsugi), a set of iconic woodblock prints created roughly a century earlier by artist Andō Hiroshige (1797-1858). The group of artists was led by Okamoto Ippei, one of the most popular manga artists of his time, on a journey by automobile stopping at each of the Tōkaidō’s stations. The manga artists hoped to raise the social standing of their craft by indirectly comparing their work to that of venerated woodblock printmakers of the past. Although the style of the scrolls’ watercolors differs considerably from what one might recognize as a “manga” today, the artists’ quick, spontaneous work somewhere on the edge of caricature was an undeniably important steppingstone toward the popular, modern manga style. Prominent artists in the pre-war era, many of the members of the Tokyo Manga Association contributed topical drawings to urban newspapers and taught others about cartooning.

Additional Resources 

In addition to the Tōkaidō manga scrolls, the Tokyo Manga Association created a number of unique materials, some of which are held at BICLM.  In the upper right  corner of the photograph above, for instance, is the book Daishinsai gashū (大震災画集, “Picture Collection of the Great Earthquake”), published in 1923. 

For a more thorough background on this unique piece, 

To learn more about related materials at the Ohio State University Libraries, please contact Japanese Studies Librarian, Ann Marie Davis.

K-12 Webinar Post-Event Update

Led by Angie Stokes, art teacher at Wayne Trace Junior/Senior High School in Haviland, Ohio, and Ann Marie Davis, Japanese Studies Librarian at OSU, the event was held on Saturday, October 10 (1:00-3:00PM) and coordinated by the East Asian Studies Center (EASC).  Angie Stokes discussed various aspects of the Journey Along the Tōkaidō curriculum, focusing on lessons she has used in her own junior high and high school classrooms. Ann Marie Davis provided a virtual tour of OSU’s manga collection and the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum, with a special focus on the Tōkaidō Manga scrolls and related treasures.

Webinar Slides and other Resources:  

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