5 Historical Manga: Have Fun and Learn!
Interested in Japanese history and traditional cultures but too lazy to read textbooks? Did you know that sometimes manga can be a great history teacher? Here are some of the historical manga that can entertain and teach you at the same time.
In Edo era in Kyoto, Kamiya Seisaburo applied to become a member of Miburoshi-gumi (Shinsen-gumi), a group of bushi (soldiers). However, he was a girl named Tominaga Sei, disguised as a guy because only men were allowed to become a bushi. Her father and brother were killed by the anti-shogunate (anti-government group), so to take her revenge, she calls herself Kamiya and enters Miburoshi-gumi as a guy.
Although Kamiya is a fictional character, the manga is based on the history of Edo era. Through the love story between Okita Souji, one of the best swordsmen in Shinsen-gumi, and Kamiya, it shows the way of the bushi at Shinsen-gumi lived to protect the government. It would be interesting to learn facts like love between men was actually thought to be the true love in Bushido (the way Bushi live) and the disparity between men and women existed clearly in that era. It’s not just a love story because it teaches you the flow of how Japan opened up and its unique cultures that may not exist today.
Saburo is a high school student who doesn’t like to study. By an accident, he time traveled to the feudal period of Japan, year of 1549. There, he meets Oda Nobunaga, who looked just like him. Nobunaga begged Saburo to live as himself because he was very sick and weak. Saburo agrees and start living as the famous historical figure.
There are even anime and live action drama for this manga. Shun Oguri is acting the main character in the drama. If you don’t want to read, you can watch and learn as well! The story won’t bore you because it’s fun to see the way Saburo’ surprises the vassals with his actions which look normal to us but weird to them.
Asaki Yume Mishi (The Tale of Genji)
The original story is Genji Monogatari by Murasaki Shikibu, a Japanese novelist and poet during the Heian period. In the story, there was a lady who was loved by the Emperor although her social status was low. She gets pregnant, and a boy was born. Soon later, she dies because of the stress from other ladies bullying her from jealousy. The boy was called Hikaru no Kimi (Shinning Boy) due to his beautiful appearance. As he gets older, he falls in love with many ladies while he proceeds his social status in the government.
This manga is even recommended by teachers to students because it will make it easier to understand the original story and the cultures during that period. The story itself is fiction, but the setting, buildings, clothes and more things that are drawn in the manga are based on specific research done by the author, so it would be interesting to focus on those things as well as the story.
It’s the age of the Sengoku period (warring states). While many civil wars were happening all over the land of Japan, various new cultures and arts were establishing. As well as the bushi were risking their lives to win wars, Sukisha (people who devote themselves to art) were also perusing the supreme beauty at their risk. The story goes on with the perspective of a samurai named Furuta Oribe who is filled with greed and love for tea. He learned the great view of the world from the genius, Oda Nobunaga and a profound spirituality from the great tea master, Sen no Rikyu.
The story is quite unique because it focuses on cultures like tea, art and buildings although usually historical mangas focus on the battles and bushi. The story is based on the actual history while the way it’s drawn is not very realistic but comical. It’s serious and funny at the same time. Once again, if you don’t like reading, you can watch the anime version!
Sarusuberi (Miss Hokusai)
official site : http://sarusuberi-movie.com/
During Edo era, Hokusai Katsushika called as Eshi (artist) Tetsuzou, his daughter, Oui Katsushika (Oei), and the freeloader, Zenjiro were living together and worked on their art all day long. The story focuses on the process of how Oei develops her art talent.
Do you know Hokusai Katsushika? He is the painter of the famous pieces, Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji. The story is about the daughter of Hokusai Katsushika, Oei. She was supporting her father when he was working on his drawing. You can peek into the daily lives of the famous artists back then.
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