Japanese manga artist Shigeru Mizuki dies at 93

Japanese cartoonist Shigeru Mizuki sitting next to his character Kitaro during an interview on May 12, 2015.
Japanese cartoonist Shigeru Mizuki sitting next to his character Kitaro during an interview on May 12, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

Tokyo (AFP) - Award-winning Japanese cartoonist Shigeru Mizuki, known for his comics of ghosts and monsters inspired by folklore and for his accounts of World War II horrors, died on Monday at age 93, his office said.

Mizuki, whose real name was Shigeru Mura, was hospitalised in early November after he collapsed in Tokyo, the office said on its website.

He underwent surgery but died Monday morning of multiple organ failure in hospital, it said.

The native of Tottori prefecture in western Japan began his career as a cartoonist after surviving World War II during which the conscripted Japanese soldier lost his left arm in a United States air strike.

He had enjoyed widespread popularity for decades since the release of his GeGeGe No Kitaro comics - called manga in Japan - depicting battles between the hero monster Kitaro and rival spirits and ghosts.

His works also covered the horror of war based on his battlefield experiences in New Britain island, now part of Papua New Guinea, and the harsh treatment common soldiers received from their superior officers.

"You were never allowed to retreat (from) the front, you had to stay until you died," he told AFP in an interview earlier this year.

Rank and file soldiers were treated "not as human beings, but were thought to be something less than horses".

A museum dedicated to Mizuki opened in Sakaiminato city in Tottori in 2003 and residents named the city's shopping district Mizuki Shigeru Road.

The area displays more than 100 statues of his cartoon characters and has attracted tourists and fans from across the country.

Mizuki received the Heritage Essential Award of the Angouleme International Comics Festival in France in 2009.