It is a rare thing for history to be portrayed so succinctly, gorgeously accurately and with such insight into the human condition as it is Showa: 1926-1953. Shigeru Mizuki's memoir trilogy covers the majority of Japan's Showa period that began in 1926 with the ascension of Emperor Hirohito, through intense economic depression, the Second World War and the post-war destruction and revival. As a master of both manga and hyper-realistic artwork,Mizuki's genius here lies in using both. The bigger national and global picture is told with newsreel-esque panels with his previous creation Nezuki Otoko (or "Rat Man") narrating. We see the current event that sweep him along, leave him behind or never touch upon his existence. Meanwhile the episodes of his life are told in a humorous, slapdash style with characters that are bug-eyed and broad. Shigeru grows (but rarely grows up) from goofball child, to teenage thug, to unemployed layabout, to incompetent soldier to finally becoming a cartoonist. Each style provides relief for the reader from the other. Cheap laughs and comic violence in one, and earth-shattering both tragic and triumphant in the other, but with profound truths in both.