Manga of a Young Girl: Anne Frank in Japan

There are hundreds of Holocaust organizations in the United States and perhaps thousands worldwide.  Through my job, I stay in contact with many.  Still, I was surprised to see a mailing at work for the Holocaust Education Center, Japan (HEC), headquartered in Fukuyama-city.  I was even more surprised to read one of their newsletter stories, revolving around an Anne Frank manga:

HEC has presented 1,200 copies of the comic book, “Anne Frank” to schools in the three prefectures of Miyagi, Iwate, and Fukushima of the [2011 earthquake] area…Anne Frank wrote in her diary about her desire towards peace, and wishes for a long life, and also the wish for working for the mankind.  HEC hopes that children in those areas will receive hope and courage through this book.

A very small illustration was included, which I unfortunately couldn’t find in better quality online.  From what I gather, the manga was originally published by Shueisha in the late 90s, but an updated version was released in 2011 with more contemporary images than the original (below).

However, this version is not the most prevalent comic retelling of Frank’s life in Japan – that moniker might go to the Anne Frank volume of the Edu-Manga series, which each feature Osamu Tezuka’s Astro Boy character on their covers and throughout the stories (yes, really).  Released stateside by Digital Manga Publishing, this version not only portrays events from the diary, but also from her brief time at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp before her death.  Note the image below, which shows Astro Boy and his sister as part of the proceedings of the story:

Anne Frank Astro Boy
image from Tokyo Times

Other versions of the diary abound.  Another manga also portrays her time in the camp and ends with real pictures of Frank and her family.  Two anime films, both titled Anne no Nikki, have also been released.

While anime and manga adaptations of The Diary of a Young Girl may seem strange and even ghoulish, there’s no doubt that her story is significant and that even today, it continues to connect with adolescents.  In a country where many deny historical accounts of Japan’s role in atrocities, perhaps these works are all the more important in delivering a a vital message – that the ability to do great evil lies with the human heart, and that even in the face of this evil and the dangers that come with it, we should stand up and do what’s right.

8 thoughts on “Manga of a Young Girl: Anne Frank in Japan

  1. I find this very intriguing…I am very facinated with the story of Anne Frank and her time spent in the attic with her family. I can pickup the book today or tomorrow and still be as entranced by each and every word today as I was when I first read it in school 10 years ago. I would be interested to see how another culture interprets the story. Good article sir! I think I have just the thing for you to show my appreciation. Keep your eye on “The Cajun Samurai” tomorrow around Noon CST!

  2. I’ve been meaning to watch one of those movies, but I (and I feel so badly about this) never got past a few pages of The Diary, and am wondering if I can enjoy and appreciate the story regardless. It’s amazing, though, that some stories really are timeless and can speak to a very different culture than ours. It makes me wonder if and when we’ll start discovering stories of theirs that we can get behind and learn from… beyond Seven Samurai.

    1. I’ve never read more than excerpts of the diary, either! Shame on us. 😛

      Perhaps as the world becomes smaller through our digital connections, we’ll see that transfer of stories/tales from east to west. For instance, from what I’ve read in the past, there’s a film version of “Tale of Genji” in the works and Martin Scorsese has long thought about doing a film on “Silence” – I would very much be anticipating both of these.

      1. I keep hearing about that ‘Silence’ film, and at this point it’s been a few years, so I’ll believe it when I see it. ‘Tale of Genji’ seems like it would be serious hit-or-miss with Western audiences because of it’s Lolita-esque romance themes, so I’m wary about that one.

        That still seems very small in comparison to what we’ve exported out there, so hopefully someone will pick up on some great Japanese stories.

        1. Oh, gosh, Tale of Genji would almost have to be made as a very small art house style film, unless huge changes were made the plot. Having read it during college, though, I just have a personal interest in the film.

          And yeah, Silence seems to be on again, off again. I’m holding out hope because it really feels like it would make an excellent fit with Scorsese and he’s long had an interest in the novel – it’s not a spur of the moment type dealy, like with some anime properties (ex. Cowboy Bebop and Akira).

          Then again, maybe it’ll get made when Battle Angel Alita gets made. -_-‘

          1. Tale of Genji as arthouse film? Yes, please! xD That would be a great movie. But yes, major changes would have to be made otherwise… which would bug me because then you really lose the heart of the story (still struggling through it, myself, but it’s a good book!).

            As for Silence and Scorcese, it’s not something that I’d really want in his hands. He has had a few hits, but most of his nominations now seem to be because he’s well-known, not because his movies are really that good. And knowing his filmography, I don’t know if it would really fit his style.

            Even so, it’s been a loooong time since rumors started about this, so I’m categorizing this as another movie that’s hit the same development hell that the live-action Cowboy Bebop movie has been in.

  3. Yay, I know enough Japanese to translate the title as “Anne Frank: A Young Girl Who Continues To Live In The Hearts Of People Who Wish For Peace”.

Leave a Reply