‘Fukushima Devil Fish’: A Nuclear Pastoral

Ryan Holmberg at the NYRB:

In October 2011, seven months after the tsunami and meltdowns, a second collection of the artist’s work was published in Japan, again to much acclaim. Titled Deep Sea Fish (Shinkaigyō), the volume reprinted stories that Katsumata drew in the 1980s about the disposable laborers who clean and maintain Japan’s nuclear power plants, as well as others he wrote in the 1970s dealing (sometimes indirectly) with the way industrialization had upended the Japanese countryside, creating a new class of alienated immigrants in the cities and a world of vanishing fables in the interior. This juxtaposition reflects the trajectory of the artist’s own life. He was born and raised in a farming village named Kahoku-cho, located on the Kitakami River just north of the major port city of Ishinomaki in northern Japan. Here, he spent his non-school hours reading comics and tending the family cows. After graduating high school in 1962, Katsumata moved to Tokyo to take up a job selling high-end laboratory equipment for a subsidiary of Hitachi. In 1965, he entered Tokyo University of Education, got a degree in physics, and began a master’s in nuclear physics, but quit in 1971 to focus full-time on cartooning.

more here.