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Kouno Fumiyo's Hi no tori ('Bird of the Sun') series as documentary manga: Memory and 3.11

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Fumiyo Kouno's two-part manga series Hi no tori (2014) and Hi no tori 2 (2016) documents the story of a cockerel's search for his missing wife in the months and years following '3.11', the Triple Disaster of 11 March 2011, consisting of the Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Both Hi no tori and Hi no tori 2 possess an unusual layout; they are comprised of various elements, including drawings, prose, poetry, statistical data, maps and commentary by the artist. This article argues that in its unique presentation of visual and textual elements, the Hi no tori series employs the medium of documentary comics to negotiate the complex critical spaces in between fiction and nonfiction, past and present, presence and absence, visibility and invisibility and, importantly, between forgetting or the fading of memories (fūka) and reconstruction (fukkō). It examines the Hi no tori series as an adaptation within the medium of comics towards a more accurate and ethical representation of 3.11 and its aftermath.
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Keywords: 3.11; Fukushima; Fumiyo Kouno; documentary manga; memory; nuclear meltdown; reportage

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 0000000419368948 University of Oxford, UK

Publication date: December 1, 2019

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  • Adaptation, or the conversion of oral, historical or fictional narratives into stage drama has been common practice for centuries. In our own time the processes of cross-generic transformation continue to be extremely important in theatre as well as in the film and other media industries. Adaptation and the related areas of translation and intertextuality continue to have a central place in our culture with a profound resonance across our civilisation.
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