Classic graphic novel beloved by manga greats gets reprinted

October 11, 2012

By YOSHIKO KAKU/ Staff Writer

Akita Publishing Co. released a reprint edition of a graphic novel that became hugely popular among Japanese boys--and future manga greats--when it was serialized in a comic magazine after World War II.

"Sabaku no Mao" (The evil lord of the desert) by Tetsuji Fukushima tells the adventures of a boy who overcomes many difficulties with the giant evil lord. The four-color graphic novel series ran from 1949 to 1956 in Shonen Shojo Boken-o comic magazine.

But copies were rare and difficult to obtain.

According to a leaflet released by Akita Publishing and other information, the graphic novel was much loved by great manga artists, including Fujio Akatsuka, Fujiko Fujio A and Takao Saito. Legendary anime director Hayao Miyazaki has said "Sabaku no Mao" was the inspiration behind the magical levitation stone in his "Castle in the Sky" animated feature.

Manga giant Shotaro Ishinomori once described the postwar years as "the gloomy time (that) only consisted of black and white," and when textbooks had to be censored to black out references to wartime Japan.

But "Sabaku no Mao" and its detailed illustrations in four colors left a lasting impression, which gave "a sense of the meat-eating 'victorious nation' that denied every 'Japanese-like' thing," he wrote.

"The significance of the reprint edition is huge because there has been a big lack in the study of Japanese manga history," manga editor Go Sasakibara said.

He said Fukushima provided a starting point to create new expressions in Japanese manga by voraciously adopting the styles of U.S. comics. But he said Fukushima portrayed the story with illustration skills that nearly surpassed those of the U.S. artists.

"It is an important work that suggests how Japanese manga developed as it received influences from overseas," Sasakibara said.

Akita Publishing is offering the reprint edition of "Sabaku no Mao" for 17,850 yen ($228) at its official website: (

By YOSHIKO KAKU/ Staff Writer
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The cover of "Sabaku no Mao" reprint edition (Akita Publishing Co.)

The cover of "Sabaku no Mao" reprint edition (Akita Publishing Co.)

  • The cover of "Sabaku no Mao" reprint edition (Akita Publishing Co.)

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