Tetsuya Chiba is a versatile author known for shōjo, shōnen and even seinen manga. However, his greatest contribution is to the sports genre.

Chiba was born in Manchuria in 1939. After the end of the WWII, his family was repatriated to Japan – an experience he later used to portray the hardships of repatriates in his manga The Illustrations in the Attic (Yaneura no ehonkaki, 1963). After his arrival to Japan, Chiba quickly became an avid comics reader and in the 1950s, he started drawing his own stories on an amateur basis. He finally debuted as a professional during his high school years, with the adventurous one-shot The Revenge of a Humpbacked Man (Fukushū no semushi otoko, 1956). After graduating high school he embarked on drawing for girls’ magazines Shōjo Book and Shōjo Club, where he found success with sentimental series Mothers’s Violin (Mama no baiorin, 1958-1959), a story about a girl searching for her lost mother. His first big triumph came in 1962, when he won the Kōdansha Manga Prize for 1·2·3 and 4·5·Roku (Ichi ni san to shi go roku), which was serialized in Shōjo Club in the same year – a bittersweet story about the everyday life of a big family dealing with the loss of their mother. The manga was later adapted into several TV series. Another notable shōjo manga was Yuki’s Sun (Yuki no taiyō, 1963) – an adventurous tale about an adopted girl that was at one point considered to be picked up by Hayao Miyazaki’s animation studio.

However, at the beginning of the 1960s, Chiba delved into shōnen manga in 1961, he debuted in Shōnen Magazine with baseball series Miracle Ball (Chikai no makyū, 1961-1962), which he created together with Kazuya Fukumoto (1928-1997). In this creative duo, Chiba was in charge of drawing while writing was done by another author, a work distribution not uncommon to Chiba, especially within the sports genre. In 1963-1965, Chiba published a successful series about a heroic WWII pilot – The Hawk in the Violet Lighting Fighter (Shidenkai no Taka). This story came at the time when popular works about Japanese soldiers were no longer taboo in Japan, but rather than celebrating Japan’s military aggression, the story expressed Chiba’s anti-war stance.  (Nakar 2008,184-188) During the late 1960s, Chiba gradually ceased drawing shōjo manga, with one of the notable exceptions being Yuki’s Sun (Yuki no taiyō, 1963), and focused mainly on sports comics featuring strong protagonists fiercely devoted to winning (supokon manga). Together with Ikki Kajiwara (also known as Asao Takamori, 1936-1987), he created the immensely popular series Tomorrow’s Joe (Ashita no Jō, 1968-1973), a story about a poor boy who becomes a boxing champion thanks to his strong will and determination. In the following years, Chiba created several more popular sports series, such as I am Teppei! (Ore wa Teppei!, 1973-1980), Tomorrow will shine! (Ashita tenki ni naare!, 1981-1991), and Notari Matsutaró (1973-1993, 1995-1997), which won him another Kōdansha Manga Prize.

For his contributions to popular culture, Chiba received several national awards including the Order of the Rising Sun (2012).

— Anna Krivankova

See also: seinen manga, shōjo manga

Further Reading

  • Gravett, Paul. Manga: Sixty Years of Japanese Comics. London: Laurence King, 2004.
  • Nakar, Eldad. On Narratives of the Second World War in Japanese Manga, 1955-1977. in Macwilliams, Mark Wheeler (ed.). Japanese Visual Culture Explorations in the World of Manga and Anime. Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 2008.
  • Nakashima, Taiyo. ““We Don’t Read, We FEEL It.” – Tetsuya Chiba Interview | SILENT MANGA AUDITION.” SILENT MANGA AUDITION. March 12, 2015. Accessed April 28, 2015. http://www.manga-audition.com/tetsuya-chiba-interview/
  • Schodt, Frederik L. Dreamland Japan: Writings on Modern Manga. Berkeley, Calif.: Stone Bridge Press, 1996.