Age is Just a Number for 91-Year-Old Manga Creator

posted on by Lynzee Loveridge
Masako Watanabe debuted new series Himegoto this month

Masako Watanabe is no stranger to manga, in fact she's likely drawn stories longer than many creators have been alive. She first debuted in 1952 with the story "Suama-chan" published in a collected volume by Wakagi-shobou. At the time, Watanabe was a new mother and was inspired by the works of Osamu Tezuka. Decades later and over 100 works under her belt, Watanabe is still drawing. The 91-year-old debuted her new series Himegoto on Shueisha's manga app "Manga Mee."

"Looking back, it was years with mountains and valleys, but I never thought drawing manga was difficult. How strange," Watanabe said. "Is it selfish of me? There are still plenty of stories in my sketchbooks that I want to draw. There is no greater enjoyment than creating your work. I have a lifetime of happiness being involved and living with manga. To God, to Buddha, and to all of my fans who blessed me with this life, I am truly grateful."

Watanabe's new story follows the happily married Miya who lives in an apartment in the Tokyo neighborhood of Shirokanedai. However, Miya's life suddenly changes after she reunites with her junior high classmate Itoko and collapses.

Watanabe wrote that it was with help from her assistants that she was able to finish Himegoto without issues.

Watanabe has specialized in shojo and josei comics during her long career. She was won the 16th Shogakukan Manga Award in 1971 for her series Glass no Shiro (Glass Castle) and her 1985 manga Hitori Matsuri inspired a live-action television drama. In 2002, Watanabe was awarded the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Award at the 31 Japan Cartoonists Association Awards and in 2006 she became the first female manga creator to receive the Order of the Rising Sun decoration. The order is awarded to those who have made distinguished achievements in international relations, promotion of Japanese culture, advancements in their field, development in welfare or preservation of the environment.

Watanabe is currently the director of the Japan Cartoonists Association.

Source: Mainichi Shimbun's Mantan Web

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