Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts in History




Dr. Yi Sun


In the ashes of post-World War II Japan and among the widespread poverty and devastation, cheap entertainment in the form of manga flourished on an unprecedented level. Manga was used not only to reenact and process war trauma, but also as a tool that helped usher in a new era of pro-American democracy and science. Manga in support of Japan’s new image quickly became popularized and embraced by the public, such as Osamu Tezuka’s Astro Boy, but this was only one lens that captured Japanese memory of WWII. Keiji Nakazawa published the first documentary form of manga in his I Saw It, a firsthand account of the Hiroshima bombing. This became popularized because Japan was a victim of the bombings rather than the aggressor. In addition to examining both of these works, this paper will examine Fumiyo Kono's "Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms," and how the atomic bomb imagery has changed and integrated into modern-day Japan. The argument this paper makes is twofold: manga that was popularized and integrated into collective memory was in support of Japan’s new identity as a peaceful nation, and manga that depicted Japan in a negative light or wrote about wartime atrocities was largely forgotten and did not make it into Japan’s sanitized version of WWII. In modern times, the bomb is viewed as a shared tragedy by all of humanity, and the cities it targeted, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, now serve as beacons of peace.