Mamiya Rinzo, samurai explorer, focus for new graphic novel

A manga on the explorer Mamiya Rinzo (間宮 林蔵) who mapped Sakhalin Island in the early years of the 19th century, has just been published by Eostre Publications, the work of Sean Michael Wilson and Akiko Shimojima.

Mamiya's Maps: A Samurai Explores Sakhalin by Sean Michael Wilson and Akiko Shimojima

Their ninth book together, “Mamiya’s Maps: A Samurai Explores Sakhalin is about exploration, culture clash, the making of maps and how they are related to politics,” Sean tells downthetubes. “It’s also anthropological in its look at the Ainu and Nivkh people of Sakhalin island.

“The animals and the landscape of the island and its surrounding waters are beautifully illustrated,” he enthuses, “making this a visually appealing manga that explores a little known aspect of Japanese history and culture.

“The issues the book covers are still relevant now, since the ownership of the island has been in dispute since the end of World War Two, but also the treatment of the Ainu and other indigenous peoples of the area has been called into question.”

The creative team have worked hard researching this new book, and it shows in the final pages.

“We try to make sure these Japanese history and culture books that we do have their own individual qualities and approach. In this case, the subject is an unusual one never fully treated in comic books before… and there is a lot more textless visual panels than normal, showing the beauty of the places and animals.”

Sean Michael Wilson

Sean Michael Wilson is a Scottish writer living in Japan. He has written more than 40 books, published by a variety of US, UK and Japanese publishers and translated into twelve languages. In 2016 his book of Lafcadio Hearn stories, The Faceless Ghost was nominated for the prestigious Eisner Book Awards, and received a medal in the 2016 Independent Publisher Book Awards. His book The Many Not the Few has an introduction by the leader of the Labour Party and was launched at a special event in the House of Commons in 2019. In 2020 he received the Scottish Samurai Award from an association celebrating links between Japan and Scotland.

Akiko Shimojima

Akiko Shimojima is a comic and manga artist from Japan. A teacher of digital comics art at a school in Tokyo, she is the illustrator of several manga and has contributed work to many other publications. Her book with Sean Michael Wilson, Secrets of the Ninja, got a medal in the 10th International Manga Award, organised by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Her other book with Sean Michael Wilson, The Minamata Story, published last year by Stone Bridge Press, received a silver medal in the 2021 Freeman Book Awards of Columbia University and a 2022 Skipping Stones Award for books about ecology.

The Minamata Story: An EcoTragedy

The Minamata Story is a powerful graphic novel /manga that tells the story of “Minamata disease,” a debilitating and sometimes fatal condition caused by the Chisso chemical factory’s careless release of methylmercury into the waters of the coastal community of Minamata in southern Japan.

First identified in 1956, it became a hot topic in Japan in the 1970s and 80s, growing into an iconic struggle between people versus corporations and government agencies.
This struggle is relevant today, not simply because many people are still living with the disease but also because, in this time of growing concern over the safety of our environment – viz. Flint, Michigan – Minamata gives us as a very moving example of such human-caused environmental disasters and what we can do about them.

Mamiya’s Maps: A Samurai Explores Sakhalin is on sale now in all good book shops (AmazonUK Affiliate Link) | ISBN 978-9916413081

The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Explorer (previously known as Star Trek Magazine) and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of "Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies" for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.



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