Award-winning manga artist Shinji Mizushima passed away due to pneumonia on January 10 in a Tokyo hospital, reports ANN News. He was 82.
During his lifetime, Mizushima released over 500 tankobon volumes, which makes him one of the most prolific manga artists ever. He was a giant of the manga world, and his passing is national news in Japan.
Born in Niigata in 1939, Mizushima debuted as a manga artist in 1958 at the age of 18, and retired in December 2020. “I have been working hard for 63 years up until today, but now I have decided to retire,” he stated (via ANN). “I pray from the bottom of my heart for continued growth in the worlds of manga and baseball.”
His last manga was published in August 2018.
Mizushima was best known for his baseball manga, such as Dokaben, Yakyu-kyo no Uta, and Abu-san, for which he first gained famed during the 1970s. His manga would recount events of the Japanese baseball world, mixing characters of his creation with real players and coaches.
Abu-san, which ran from 1973 to 2014, follows the exploits of fictional baseball player Yasutake Kageura. It won the Shogakukan Manga Award in 1977, and the series sold over 22 million copies. Dokaben, which ran from 1972 to 1981, was published in a whopping 205 total tankobon volumes—which is the most volumes for a series. Dokaben was a high school baseball manga, but the characters lived on in spin-offs that followed their amateur and pro careers. Yakyu-kyo no Uta, which ran from 1972 to 1976, told the story of a young woman who planned to be a vet, but ended up a baseball player. The manga won the Kodansha Literature Culture Award for children’s manga, and was adapted into an anime series, an animated movie, a live-action movie, and a live-action TV series.
(Full disclosure: Kodansha published my first two books.)
As ANN notes, Mizushima received the Order of the Rising Sun Gold Rays with Rosette award for contributions to entertainment and culture from the Japanese government in 2014.
As Mizushima had requested, his family held a private funeral. May he rest in peace.