Authentic War Stories, No. 3 - The Kamikaze
K.G. Murray Publishing, no date, 68 pages
Two brothers, Onaka and Ayakao, have conflicting views
regarding suicide attacks in this Australian comic. This issue of Authentic
War Stories explores the idea of suicide attacks in a thoughtful manner
with an emphasis on human relations rather than military details. The comic
does not give the year of publication, but its price indicates that it came out
in the late 1960s or early 1970s. Although the title says "authentic,"
this story is clearly fictional.
Onaka, born in the U.S. but of Japanese parents, returns to
Japan to pursue a military career in the footsteps of his samurai ancestors. He
and his brother Ayakao enter the Navy prior to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. During
the war Onaka flies 52 missions and shoots down 8 enemy planes, but he refuses
to join a kamikaze squad when Ayakao, now his commander, asks for volunteers.
He explains, "My courage remains, but I have always used it with
wisdom" (p. 42). The three brothers of Onaka and Ayakao perish when the
American destroyer Ontario sinks a Japanese battleship. A Navy officer
orders Onaka to join the kamikaze corps, which he reluctantly agrees to do even
though his wife objects. When the Emperor gives the message of surrender,
Ayakao departs for the last kamikaze attack of the war. He hunts down the
destroyer Ontario to avenge the death of his three brothers, but his
plane explodes in the air when hit by the ship's gunners.
The comic presents the characters' conflicting opinions in
an unbiased manner, but the story contains a few incorrect or implausible
historical details. The kamikaze pilots in the story use ohka glider bombs, but
during the war only a handful of these weapons hit or got near Allied ships.
Ayakao pilots an ohka in his attempted attack on the Ontario after he
hears about Japan's surrender, but the last attack using ohka bombs actually
took place two months earlier in June. A kamikaze corps recruiter in the comic
visits a university to order five students to join the kamikazes, but the
students all committed suicide the same day "to show that they weren't
afraid of death, but were opposed to the whole notion of suicide pilots, which
is a madness dreamt up by those in command of this terrible war" (p. 45).
Although this scene effectively shows one viewpoint toward suicide attacks,
university students did not get drafted directly into kamikaze corps. Instead,
men who volunteered or were assigned to kamikaze units already had received
some flight training in the Navy or Army.
Although a few historical facts may not be presented
accurately, this comic thoughtfully presents people's differing opinions
regarding Japan's kamikaze attacks.