The Minamata Story

The Minamata Story

An EcoTragedy

Sean Michael Wilson


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  • this graphic novel dramatizes the story of "Minamata," famous around the world as one of the most egregious examples of environmental poisoning; identified in 1956, a final compensation settlement was not reached until 2010; over 2,000 people were affected and over 1,700 have died
  • many people have heard about Minamata, but few know the real story or the human cost
  • the artist is Japanese, the writer a UK citizen residing in Japan, giving the book a great mix of narrative and authentic representation
  • movie connection: a movie titled Minamata starring Johnny Depp is currently being filmed in Japan; release date TBD (2020?); it is based on the life of W. Eugene Smith, whose photoessay on Minamata in the 1970s stunned the world (we do not know the release date and our book is not a direct or licensed tie-in)
  • author Wilson has a solid track record of historical documentation of Japanese history and culture: The Book of Five Rings, Yakuza Moon, Black Ships; note that New Internationalist, a CBSD client, publishes Wilson's recent book The Many Not the Few 9781780264448
  • appeals to ecowarriors of all ages, but manga presentation makes it a good choice for younger readers (although it is not marketed as a children's title)
  • most recently, the story of Minamata reminds us of the problem of lead-poisoned water in Flint, Michigan, and represents the same kind of governmental bungling and indifference



Graphic Novels are hot

  • According to Publishers Weekly re Y2018:The graphic novel market is up by 11.7%. This is a marked difference from the 1.3% increase seen across all print publishing (not just graphic novels) in the U.S. and it indicates healthy growth for the category.”
  • According to Publisher’s Weekly: “Over the past five years, the North American graphic novel market has welcomed a wave of new readers and grown from about $805 million in sales in 2012 to more than $1 billion in 2017.”
  • According to May 2019: “Manga sales are growing year over year even today. The trend began back in 2013 and has continued well through the last year. As such, the gross revenue of manga has risen by about 7.2% between 2017 to 2018 with shonen bringing in the bulk of money.”
  • “Not only is the sale of manga on a rise in North America, but the report reveals that about 25% of the entire graphic novel market belongs to manga in the United States.”

Statistics on Eco Activism groups

According to Wikipedia there are 150 active Eco Activism groups in the US.

Some of the biggest include:

  • The Sierra Club: 1.3 million members
  • World Wildlife Fund: 5 million members
  • Greenpeace: 2.5 million members
  • Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC): 1.2 million members


Sean Michael Wilson:

Sean Michael Wilson is a comic book writer from Scotland. He has had more than 30 books published with a variety of US, UK and Japanese publishers. Working with various Japanese artists he has written a unique line of Japanese history/martial arts books, including The Book of Five Rings, Yakuza Moon and Black Ships.  In 2016 his book The Faceless Ghost was nominated for the prestigious Eisner Book Awards and received a medal in the 2016 'Independent Publisher Book Awards'. In 2017, his book Secrets of the Ninja won an International Manga Award from the Japanese government - he is the first British person to receive this award.

Akiko Shimojima is a comic artist from Japan. Her career began when she was in a university in NY. Her comics have been published by several companies in Japan and other countries. She has been working with Sean Michael Wilson, on various projects, including The 47 Ronin, Bushido, and the Satsuma Rebellion. Her book Cold Mountain was the winner of the China Comic and Animation Competition 2015 ‘Best Overseas Comic’ award. She also teaches how to draw digital comics at a college in Tokyo.

Brian Small is an environmental activist and teacher at Minami Kyushu University.