One can also read lots of shojo kashihon manga and edifying hardcover books for children from the 50s. Aomushi has a pretty solid holding of Sugiura Shigeru books from the 1950s, and its collection of Mizuki Shigeru kashihon was strong enough to be used in the popular movie and television series Wife of Ge ge ge about Mizuki’s wife Mura Nunoe and her experiences marrying and living with the starving artist as the kashihon market was going down the drain.
While Aomushi’s kashihon are famous, the real eye-opener for me was its comparatively small 400-or-so-volume collection of akahon from the late 40s and early 50s. It was after my first visit in the fall of 2011 that I returned to Tokyo and began buying the sorts of things in “An Introduction to Akahon.” There is definitely pre- and post-Aomushi in my own short career as a manga historian.
Looking at Occupation period manga, one really starts to feel that Tezuka’s influence was too great. The variety of artistic expression in Japanese comics really begins to narrow after Tezuka’s first magazine serials in the early 50s, and it was not until former kashihon artists began moving into the magazine market in the late 60s that things begin again to loosen up. If one speaks with hesitancy about a single “manga style” today, the term makes almost no sense during the Occupation. The period was a real melting pot, with old artists, new artists, hack artists, magazine illustrators, kamishibai artists, and adult cartoonists all making comic books for young readers. The alignment of artistic style with audience, so suffocatingly total for manga in subsequent decades and fairly strong in manga before the war, is fairly scrambled in this period. The impact of American comic books, pulp and fashion magazines, and Hollywood movies shook things up even further, resulting in . . .
train robberies . . .
boys in hot water . . .
beautiful Tarzan boys and Jane girls . . .
and things that you won't believe were created as early as the Occupation.
That is just a taste.
If you didn’t figure it out from previous posts, I am an ignoramus when it comes to shojo manga. But if that is your love or research subject, Aomushi is again the place to go if you want a sense of what the genre looked like outside of mainstream magazines.