Anime News

Chinese Printer Refuses to Print Manga with Taiwan References

Okinawa by Susumu Higa

The manga Okinawa by Susumu Higa is being published in North America by Fantagraphics and Mangasplaining Extra (MSX), but its July 2023 debut got bumped to August 2023. It’s not much of a bump, and with COVID’s lingering effects and the war on Ukraine causing many supply chain shortages, a book being delayed in and of itself typically isn’t news anymore. However, it just came out that the delay happened because a Chinese printer refused to print the book for political reasons.

Christopher Woodrow-Butcher of Mangasplaining Extra revealed this in the company’s newsletter:

“As you might remember, the book was originally supposed to come out in July. However, during the proofing stage, we got some ‘feedback’ from the printer in China that all of the mentions of Taiwan in the (new-to-this-edition) interview with Higa-san would need to be removed from the work, as would the mention of China in the book itself during the war.”

Rather than make the cuts, they moved to a different printer, as Woodrow-Butcher went on:

“So, uh, we moved printers, and lost just enough time to miss our window for Comic-Con. Such is life.”

The current Chinese government considers Taiwan to be part of China. The current Taiwanese government does not consider the country to be part of China. So any mention of Taiwan as its own country has become a sore point for the Chinese government, which has also been cracking down on what people are and aren’t allowed to say and do in China. The historical fighting between Japan and China — and atrocities the Japanese army committed in China — have also been an ongoing issue, including for Chinese civilians.

Fantagraphics gave this description of Okinawa:

A peaceful, independent kingdom until its annexation by the Japanese Empire in the 19th century, Okinawa was the site of the most destructive land battle of the Pacific War. Today, the archipelago is Japan’s poorest prefecture and unwilling host to 75% of all US military bases in Japan.

Okinawa brings together two collections of intertwined stories by the island’s pre-eminent mangaka, Susumu Higa, which reflect on this difficult history and pull together traditional Okinawan spirituality, the modern-day realities of the continuing US military occupation, and the senselessness of the War. The first collection, Sword of Sand, is a ground level, unflinching look at the horrors of the Battle of Okinawa. Higa then turns an observant eye to the present-day in Mabui (Okinawan for “spirit”), where he explores how the American occupation has irreversibly changed the island prefecture, through the lens of the archipelago’s indigenous spirituality and the central character of the yuta priestess.

Okinawa is a harrowing document of war, but it is also a work which addresses the dreams and the needs of a people as they go forward into an uncertain future, making it essential reading for anyone interested in World War II and its effects on our lives today, as well as anyone with an interest in the people and culture of this fascinating, complicated place. Though the work is thoroughly about one specific locale, the complex relations between Okinawan and Japanese identities and loyalties, between place and history, and between humanity and violence speak beyond borders and across shores.

Source: Comics Beat


Danica Davidson is the author of the bestselling Manga Art for Beginners with artist Melanie Westin, plus its sequel, Manga Art for Everyone, and the first-of-its-kind manga chalk book Chalk Art Manga, both illustrated by professional Japanese mangaka Rena Saiya. Check out her other comics and books at