Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths

In Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths, Shigeru Mizuki presents a fictionalized version of one of the last battles of the Second World War. A Japanese army division is tasked with holding a South Pacific island from the oncoming Allies. In a last ditch effort, the men are required to perform a suicide attack. The Japanese believe this form of combat to be honorable and noble---at least in theory.

Onward shows the horrors battle along with the day-to-day privations of war. Mizuki has dozens of characters, each drawn in a slightly cartoony style, but in such a way as they each have their own personality. And he shows how these tribulations affect each of them (although, admittedly, I couldn't keep all the characters straight). And all this death and destruction is set against the lush backdrop of the beauty of the tropical environment. Mizuki's story is as compelling as his art is rich and densely illustrated.