Kouno Fumiyo’s graphic narratives about Hiroshima, beginning with Yūnagi no machi, sakura no kuni (Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms, 2004), have drawn attention as a new kind of A-bomb manga, but they have also met with harsh criticism by historians who privilege story and representational content when approaching manga. Against their charge of a lack of criticality, this review article highlights the critical potential of Kouno’s graphic narratives by focusing on how comics-specific style, especially paneling and linework, affects both narrative content and the act of reading. Kouno’s works exhibit a number of pecularities, ranging from what is drawn inside individual panels to the materiality of the line work marked, among other things, by the motif of the hand. The article demonstrates how these stylistic contrivances prompt not only re-reading, or revisiting both specific manga images and the represented past, but that they also allow for ‘touching’ the past. With respect to the latter, the article maintains, that Kouno’s manga promote a bodily kind of historical memory that implies an alternative to the exclusive concentration on thematic representation and ideological content. With respect to manga, the article emphasizes that critical potential arises to a significant extent from specific acts of reading facilitated by specific stylistic means.


Atomic bomb, historical memory, manga studies, manga stylistics, representation

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Kritika Kultura
Department of English
School of Humanities
Ateneo de Manila University

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Jan Baetens
Faculty of Arts
Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (Belgium)

Joel David
Professor of Cultural Studies
Inha University (South Korea)

Michael Denning
Professor of American Studies and English
Department of English
Yale University (US)

Faculty of Cultural Sciences
Universitas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia)

Regenia Gagnier
Professor of English
University of Exeter (UK)

Leela Gandhi
John Hawkes Professor of the Humanities and English
Brown University (US)

Inderpal Grewal
Professor of Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies
Professor of South Asian Studies, Ethnicity, Race and Migration Studies
Yale University (US)

Peter Horn
Professor Emeritus and Honorary Lifetime Fellow
University of Cape Town (South Africa)
Honorary Professor and Research Associate in German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

Anette Horn
Professor of German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

David Lloyd
Distinguished Professor of English
University of California, Riverside (US)

Bienvenido Lumbera
National Artist for Literature
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University of the Philippines

Rajeev S. Patke
Director of the Division of Humanities
Professor of Humanities
Yale NUS College (Singapore)

Vicente L. Rafael
Giovanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Professor of History
University of Washington (US)

Vaidehi Ramanathan
Department of Linguistics
University of California, Davis (US)

Temario Rivera
Professorial Lecturer
Department of Political Science
University of the Philippines

E. San Juan, Jr.
Philippines Studies Center (US)

Neferti X.M. Tadiar
Professor of Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
Barnard College (US)
Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
Columbia University (US)

Antony Tatlow
Honorary Professor of Drama
Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)