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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Illustrations of war from a remote battlefield : images of the enemy in Japanese kamishibai and Chinese manhua, 1938-1945 Wang, Chen


During Japan’s war in China (1931-1945), both Japan and China produced wartime propaganda using popular visual media. This thesis examines how artists portrayed the war in manhua (comics) in China and kamishibai (paper plays) in Japan. The thesis focuses on manhua by the Jiuwang Manhua Xuanchuandui (National Salvation Manhua Propaganda Team, hereafter NSMPT) association, and kamishibai produced by the Nippon Kyōiku Kamishibai Kyōkai (Japanese Educational Kamishibai Association, hereafter NKKK), to reveal the differences between the organizational structures of the NSMPT and NKKK and differences in their visual strategies for depicting the enemy, as well as the similarities in their approach to wartime propaganda. In the introduction, I briefly introduce the historical background of manhua and kamishibai and my main research sources. In Chapter 1, I argue that Chinese manhua had been depicting Japan as an enemy since the May Fourth Movement of 1919. I trace the history of the anti-Japan manhua movement from the early manhua magazine Shanghai Puck to later wartime work by the NSMPT and its offshoots as they fled from city to city to evade the Japanese advance. Chapter 2 illustrates how kamishibai developed from a street performance for children to a tool of wartime propaganda for all ages. In Chapter 3, I analyze in detail visual depictions of the enemy in Chinese and Japanese works. A comparison of the way manhua artists depicted Japanese soldiers with the way kamishibai artists portrayed Chinese soldiers and collaborators demonstrates the different kinds of messages appropriate for the mobilization of the home front in the two countries. At the same time, both use common propaganda techniques such as dehumanization and the presentation of one-sided or inaccurate information. The appendices are comprised of translations of two kamishibai plays.

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