Eco-Intermediality and the Artful Recluse’s Hut: Mizuki Shigeru’s Manga Hōjōki

Daniela KATO


This article proposes eco-intermediality as a cross-fertilization between what has been the hitherto predominantly thematic orientation of ecocriticism and the more form-oriented concerns of intermediality studies. To explore the transformative potential of this eco-intermedial conceptual framework, I focus on the 2013 manga adaptation of Hōjōki by the Japanese visual artist Mizuki Shigeru. Hōjōki (1212) is a medieval essay written by the Japanese poet-monk Kamo no Chōmei and bearing witness to a string of environmental disasters that overtook Kyoto at around the end of the twelfth century. The combination of a poignant environmental theme with a long history of translations and adaptations makes this work particularly amenable to an eco-intermedial approach. My main argument is that the post-Fukushima adaptation by Mizuki is a game-changer in such history, inasmuch as the artist brings his unique environmental imaginary and the distinctive formal affordances of manga to bear on Chōmei’s text, so as to convey the sense of a world where objects and phenomena are endowed with agency and thus outside full human control. The ultimate aim of the present article is to highlight the far-reaching ecological implications of the intermedial textures that Mizuki creates in his manga Hōjōki to express an environmental imaginary hinged on material agency and empathy.

Keywords: adaptation; eco-intermediality; hermits; impermanence; intermediality; manga; Mizuki Shigeru; yōkai

DOI: 10.24193/ekphrasis.24.4