Mutant Hanako is a one-off1 manga drawn and wirtten by the controversial contemporary fine artist, Makoto Aida. It is part of his World War II themed series of works called "War Picture Returns" (戦争画 RETURNS), which dwell upon issues related to the effects and the aftermath of the War. Among the themes that are touched upon in this series are , the relationship between Japan and Korea, and former war criminals/present-day smiley political conservative dichotomy.
The plot summary is (briefly):
Mutant Hanako tells the story of a young girl from Okinawa named Hanako. On the day the Americans invaded Okinawa, Hanako, who is in hiding with her sister Tsukiko, has a vision of the Emperor who tells her to join with Junichi and defeat the Americans from the Demon Kingdom. She and her sister watch as the US Navy, who are drawn to look like Japanese Oni (demons), with pointy teeth and horns murder the defenseless island's male inhabitants, and plot to rape the remaining women. Tsukiko and Hanako who only have one bamboo staff to defend themselves with, surrender to the Americans, who promptly rape them. Tsukiko however, sacrifices her life and kills herself and several US Navy men with a loose hand grenade she finds on the ground during her rape. Hanako is captured and is brought aboard the USS Enterprise and she meets the suicidal kamikaze pilot Junichi, who barges in during a failed kamikaze attack.
The two of them are again taken prisoner and raped for days on end by the paedophile Gerneral MacArthur and his henchmen. She eventually escapes, by hiding in a bomb crate, but leaves Junichi behind. It turns out, through numerous manga plot twists, that Hanako ended up in a box that housed the Little Boy, and was chained to the bomb as it dropped over Hiroshima. Hanako's charred body is found by a farmer, but before he can cremate it, she bursts out of her stony coccon with new mutant powers, and no hair. With the scalp and hair of the farmer's deceased bomb-victim daughter Yukiko atop her head, Hanako flies through the air and arrives just in time to save Junichi and Nagasaki from nuclear destruction.
The two of them arrive before the throne of the Emperor, who instructs Junichi to "purify her", so she can obtain super-super powers. The two of them have ceremonial sex for exactly four seconds (long enough for Junichi to climax) and Hanako with bamboo staff in hand takes off to defeat the demon Americans. Junichi stays behind and commits seppuku. General MacArthur surrenders under Hanako's unstoppable attacks, and the two of them agree to meet at the "Black House" in Washington to carry out the final surrender...but it's an ambush! President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who is a giant penis, orders General MacArthur to finish her off. The two of them have an improptu food battle, which Hanako wins with her secret natto typhoon attack, only after she fends off MacArthur's lethal Poison Coka-Cola Shower. She then faces FDR, who's sexual hypnosis prooves to be too powerful for her, untill Junichi appears yet again and kamikaze slams a plane into FDR. With his last ounce of strength, Junichi cuts off his penis and inserts it into Hanako's vagina to supercharge her mutant powers. She grows to gargantuan size, smashes FDR like a bug, and takes a giant dump on America, thus destroying the demon kingdom forever. With all of her strength drained she dies peacefully at the emperor's feet.
As the plot summary indicates, Mutant Hanako is filled with sex and violence, and it is through this central theme that Mr. Aida's intentions can be dissected. The Americans are portrayed only as raging demons with enormous penises and an insatiable deisre to rape things. The Japanese, on the other hand are only portrayed as either young girls or unoffensive, young, beautiful men (except for the farmer who stumbles across Hanako's body) with small penises and a fanatical devotion to the emperor. They take the role of the prepetual rape victim. The manga seems to be a satire of the stereotypical Japanese viewpoint of their nation's involvement in the war, which is that of the victim; a victim that cannot view its own wrong doings (Manchuria, Korea, mistreatment of the Ainu, Socio-religious Engineering etc) and which constanly hides behind the atrocites commited upon them by the Enemy/Victor.
The stereotypes which Aida portrays are also interesting. Americans, who have an international reputation as expatriate sex manics are portrayed exactly as that. However, it seems as though the Japanese are caricatured more harshly. Junichi's constant attempts at suicide and selflessness ultimately kills him. This appears to be a metaphor for morals which were fed to the Japanese during their time of war, and this is reflected in the fate of thousands of young Japanese kamikaze pilots. Several of these young men were trained to die for their country, and some have testified that after surviving their "mission from god" that they wished to have crashed and died because they would have been able to go on to paradise, having fulfilled a heavenly order. Curiously enough, some interesting and humorous critiques of American culture arise as well. As Hanako relentlessly, kills hundreds of American troops, they explode in fantastic frenzies of penises, corndogs, hamburgers and American flags, almost as if to suggest that Americans are demons made up from junk food. Gerneral MacArthur himself fights his final fight with Hanako using Coke, as well as "Steak Bomber" (with "too much cholesterol") and "Cereal Hurricane" attacks. Perhaps this is a gripe about the wave of junkfood (origniating from America) that has arrived in Japan ala Coke, KFC, and McDonalds.
One high brow theme that occurs in this very crudely drawn, vulgar comic are allusions to themes of classical japanese art, or nihonga. The names of the female protagonists, Hanako (花子 flower child), Yukiko (雪子 snow child), and Tsukiko (月子 moon child) have elements of the three classical motifs of Japanese artwork: flower, snow, and moon. These are also themes which Aida often incorporates into his own work. Hanako obtains super mutant powers when all three of these elements unite (with Junichi's penis too of course)
The true intention of Makoto Aida's authoring of this comic remains unknown. His art style sometimes resembles the familiar manga style, and he has admitted that he was influenced somewhat by manga in his up bringing. However, Aida admits that the original publication of Mutant Hanako did not qualify as a manga because he could not sell "more than 10,000 copies" of the hand-stapled work, and in that respect it was more like a doujinshi. He says that one day he would like to submit a "real manga on real paper" for publication, because it is "the duty of a coward who once treated manga as high culture."
Sources & Notes
Reprint of the Original:
Mutant Hanako, by Makoto Aida
Includes English translation and afterward (Japanese) in the back of the book
1998, 1999 ABC Publishing Corp.
ISNB: 4-900387-78-9 C000
"Lonely Planet", by Makoto Aida
You'd be hardpressed to find the reprint of the original outside of Japan, due the strongly offensive content. A heavily censored (story and imagery) version has been released in America by Cadence Books, in the anthology Secret Comics Japan. A good read
1 - While it is a one-off cum one-shot, the end of the Japanese reprint has an "advertisement" for the sequel to Mutant Hanako. It reads”Mutant Hanako Part II: (Due For) Publication in a Few Days!!" The ad aslo features a shot of Hanako's bloody hand grasping her bamboo spear, and a giant bearded robot wielding a sickle and hammer, with star-embossed sunglasses wildly charging toward her over the landscape of Tokyo...with sputnik floating over head. I'm waiting outside my mailbox for more information.