Mangaka Kazuo Umezz Reunited with Works from Teen Years

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Kazuo Umezz holds a volume of Manga Tenrankai in May in Musashino, Tokyo. Umezz drew the cover art of the volume.

Legendary mangaka Kazuo Umezz has been reunited with the works he drew when he was a teenager — before he made his professional debut.

The works, which are a part of hand-drawn volumes that were circulated among his amateur mangaka friends, were given to Umezz, 86, by the former editor of the manga circle he belonged to during his teen years. Some of the volumes are on display at The Kazuo Umezz Great Art Exhibition, which opened at Telepia Hall in Nagoya on June 10.

The volumes are so-called nikuhitsu kairanshi, which comprises works from more than one group member and are completely hand drawn.

When Umezz was in high school, he was a frequent contributor to the circular Manga Tenrankai. Seigo Miyazaki, now 86, served as the editor of the circular and kept the volumes for years. However, Miyazaki feared the value of the works would remain unknown to the public if he held on to them, so he suggested they be given to Umezz.

The books are highly valued as they shed light on manga history. One of the volumes includes “Mori no Ichiya” (A night in the forest), a short manga created by Umezz likely around the same time as his debut work “Mori no Kyodai” (Siblings in the forest) in 1955.

Umezz was pleased to see his works again after about 70 years.

“I drew these when I was around 14 to 16, trying to eagerly free myself from the influences of Mr. Osamu Tezuka,” Umezz said. “I’m shocked and amazed by how artistic they look.”

Miyazaki said: “In those days, we only communicated through letters, but I could tell [Umezz] was incredibly talented just by looking at the works he sent. I hope the volumes will provide a jumping-off point for people to look back on Mr. Umezz’s career as an artist.”