A memorial for Sato Shio (part one)Posted: April 16, 2011
April 4th was the first anniversary of the death of Sato Shio who was my favorite manga author.
One year ago, when I heard the tragic news that she passed away, I was so shocked that I couldn’t say a word.
It was the first time I had been so shocked since Arkady Strugatsky, who was the big brother of The Brothers Strugatsky died.
Don’t you have some favorite artists、musicians or writer whom you wish to see once? Even if it’s only to say, “I’m a fan of you.” Those artists for me were the writers Arkady Strugatsky, Ursula Kroeber Le Guin , musician Joe Jackson, and manga author Sato Shio.
Although she had not been publishing new work recently, (except some collection books), I thought that I could read her new work by waiting patiently because she was always not prolific.
I would never have thought that she had been fighting against disease.
I read many comments regarding the news of her death on blogs and twitter.
It seemed that there were many people who felt the same as me.
I can’t explain it well, but…she was special somehow.
Her works were certainly not the kind of manga everyone would like, but of the kind that get cult-like popularity among a small audience.
The first time I read her manga was 1983, when I was still a school kid. The manga was a short story titled “The Blue Monkey Chronicle” which was carried by a girl’s manga magazine called “Grapefruit.”
The story starts with a monologue like this.
“I went to America with my family when I was 12 years old because of my father’s job transfer and fafully encountered a computer. I’m the same age as Bill Gates who started Microsoft, but since I was not very interested in microcomputers, I was not able to be a billionaire in youth like him.
However, I think that my passion for computers in general and my devotion to them starting in high school and going through graduate school was comparable with him.”
If this monologue was written recently, it might be ordinary.
Computers have spread through ordinary homes and many people in Japan know the name of the chairman of Microsoft.
However, I think in 1983, there was no other Japanese manga writer who could write a dialogue like this.
In one of her stories, which was serialized in another girl’s manga magazine “Petit Flower”, titled “One Zero”, there is a dialogue like this:
“These days, besides e-mail, advertising by mail is uncommon.”
It was 1984 that this dialog was written.
I don’t know how developed the Internet and e-mails were in Japan at that time, but as long as information on the Internet is correct, Keio University, Tokyo Institute of Technology and Tokyo University were connected via computer network in 1984. This was the origin of the Internet in Japan.
I couldn’t help but be surprised at her farsighted intelligence.
Well, it was not new that the computer appeared in Japanese manga those days.
However, those computers always were fantastical and imaginative omnipotent machines like a dream or nightmare. I think those computers were not based on any realistic predictions of how computers would develop and relate to society,.
I won’t say that Sato Shio’s stories are always correct scientifically. Reading it strictly in a scientific way, I can find one or more contradictory points in “The Blue Monkey Chronicle” too.
However, her skillful storytelling does not let readers notice these discrepancies. And in fact, this story is a fantasy story rather than a science fiction one. The scientific contradictory point does not spoil the essence of the story. （continued to part two)