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Kamikaze: 1946
by Ted Nomura
Issues 1 to 6 (Aug., Nov. 2000; Jan., Mar., Apr., May 2001)
Antarctic Press, 2003, 28 pages per issue

Japan and Germany continue fighting the Allies into 1946 in this alternative history that mixes historical realism with pure fantasy. In addition to these six volumes that feature Japan's various special attack (suicide) forces, Ted Nomura has written and drawn over 100 comic books since 1986 in the collection entitled Families of Altered Wars. This collection includes series such as Luftwaffe: 1946, Tigers of Terra, World War II: 1946, and Tigers of the Luftwaffe. Although Kamikaze: 1946 sometimes raises intriguing possibilities, the stories' rapidly shifting characters and settings cause great difficulty in following even their thin plots.

Several stories included in the six volumes depict suicide weapons developed by the Japanese military. The cover of Issue No. 2 (see image on this page) shows fukuryu, suicide frogmen with impact-fused lunge mines that the Japanese plan to use against enemy ships landing on the Japanese mainland. Other stories introduce jet-powered ohka (shown in image below), kaiten (manned torpedoes), explosive motorboats, aerial ramming attacks, and regular kamikaze planes. In this altered World War II, German bombers find use in Japan as special attack planes.

Issue No. 3 (p. 14) presents contrasting attitudes toward suicide attacks. A German female officer says to a large group of kamikaze pilots, "Do you boys really have to go to your last mission? As a Christian, I have to voice my objection that life is a gift and should not be wasted. There must be a better way to defend your country." One kamikaze pilot replies, "I appreciate your concern ma'am, but as Japanese, we really don't have a choice. We don't believe that our cause is wasted, because life is just a part of nature and we'll all be recycled to another life." Another pilot says, "It's not just religion, miss, we don't want to die either, but we just can't face the alternative."

Rocket-powered ohka dives
at American aircraft carrier

 
The comics usually present a fairly accurate depiction of the war, even though it is an alternative one. However, beautiful young female officers (often with panties showing), visiting aliens, and even a "Martian war machine" water tower also appear. Even though these surprising images may be an attempt at humor, most do not come with any explanation as to their origins. Something much funnier than these unexpected images is when the kamikaze pilots say "itte kimasu" before they leave on their suicide mission. This Japanese phrase, used often when a person leaves home, literally means, "I go and will return," which is obviously an inappropriate phrase for a kamikaze pilot to use when departing on a final mission.

Besides the main comic stories, Kamikaze: 1946 has a variety of other features. Ted Nomura writes a forward in each episode with some historical background and his opinions. Half of the issues have sections with readers' letters and Nomura's responses. Issue No. 6 contains reviews of books and manga on World War II, including a couple of books on kamikazes.

Some individuals, as evidenced by their enthusiastic letters, really enjoy Nomura's style of escapism where World War II continues on and on. However, despite a certain amount of history that can be learned from Kamikaze: 1946, its shallow, confusing, and incomplete plotlines do not provide much excitement.