Takao Saito, 84, passed away; Made a Japanese Comic Book Superstar
“And manga and anime probably never became representative of Japanese culture,” he said.
Takao Saito was born on 3 November 1936 in Wakayama Prefecture, south of Osaka. His father did odd jobs and tried his hand at various artistic pursuits. His mother raised Mr. Saito and his four siblings, earning extra money by smoking cigarettes at night.
Mr. Saito showed a talent for the arts from a young age, but it was an endeavor that his mother strongly discouraged; As he recalled in an autobiography, he feared that he would turn out to be like his father. After finishing middle school he trained as a hairdresser in Osaka and eventually opened a salon with his older sister in the city’s Red Light district. However, the work did not suit him; He was afraid of being stabbed.
He continued to paint film signboards and sell pornographic images to members of the occupation forces stationed in Japan after World War II. The same GI introduced him to American comics like Batman and Superman. Cinema, particularly King Kong, was another major influence.
An early attempt to break into the comics industry went poorly: his presentation in a boys’ magazine was rejected by none other than Osamu Tezuka, Japan’s most famous manga artist. That said, Mr. Tezuka told him that his themes and artwork were inappropriate for children.
Criticism only fueled his ambition. By 1955, after two years of work, he published his first comic, the mystery adventure “Baron Air”.
Mr. Saito moved to Tokyo in 1957 and helped establish the short-lived Gekiga Studio, an artists’ group dedicated to promoting a new genre of comic book. In a manifesto, the group rejected the term “manga”, often translated as “whimsical paintings”, as too soft for their vision of an art form that is a filmmaker’s visual panache. Will tell compelling adult stories with.
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