Via Anime News Network, Shinji Mizushima, the creator of the long-running baseball manga “Dokaben,” passed away from pneumonia last week on January 10, 2022. He was 82 years old. Mizushima wrote and drew the various “Dokaben” series from 1972 to 2018, which totaled 205 collections, making it the longest manga series by the number of tankōbon volumes.
Mizushima was born in the Niigata Prefecture (north central Japan) on April 10, 1939, and made his professional manga debut aged only 18 in 1958. An avid fan of the Japanese baseball team the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, he created his first baseball manga, “Ace no Jyōken,” in 1969, and subsequently launched two series on the subject, “Yakyū-kyō no Uta” and “Dokaben,” in 1972.
“Dokaben” told the story of high school baseball player Taro Yamada and his friends, and inspired a live-action film and an anime that ran for 163 episodes. “Yakyū-kyō no Uta” did not run for as long as “Dokaben,” ending in 1976 before it was revived from 1997 to 2005, but like its sister series, it formed the basis of a film, a cartoon, and a live-action drama. Another baseball comic, “Abu-san,” was launched in 1973, and ran for 107 volumes until 2014.
During his lifetime, Mizushima was honored with the Japanese government’s Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette award for contributions to entertainment and culture in 2014. He was also a two-time recipient of the Shogakukan Manga Award, and received the Literary Giant Award from the Japan Cartoonists Association Awards in 2007. He announced his retirement in December 2020, though his final comic, a one-shot revisit of “Abu-san,” was published in 2018. He had reportedly been under medical treatment for another, undisclosed illness, and his family held a private funeral in accordance with his wishes.