In 1953, he was born in Kyoto.
He entered Mandarake in 1984, after Hitachi-sikki-kougu-company etc..
In 1986, he started Mitsuteru-Yokoyama-club with Mr.Kenichi Eguchi, Mr.Yoshinobu Horii, and they published the private magazine “Ochs”. From his enormous collections, he provided the materials for many publictions, including ” Bessatsu Taiyo / Mitsuteru Yokoyama Manga Taizen” (1998).
He has also made an effort for reprinting. He has greatly contributed to the spread of the works of Yokoyama and has laid foundation of references for researches.
In 2014, he published the memorial book for Mitsuteru Yokoyama birth 80th anniversary “My Forevermore” (edited by Mr.Keisuke Yui) . At present he holds the gathering as a central figure of Yokoyama fans and continues standing by many fan’s activities.
A Japanese manga artist.(1934 – 2004)
“Tetsujin 28-go”,”Kagemaru of Iga”,”Akakage”,”Babel II”,”Sally the Witch”,”Romance of the Three kingdoms”,”Water Margin”, and many others.
A giants in the field of manga, admired together with Osamu Tezuma, Shotaro Ishinomori.
Yokoyama’s first work”Otonashi-no-ken”(Sword without sound)
One rainy Saturday in the middle of October, “The gathering of Mitsuteru Yokoyama fans” sponsored by Mr. Shigekazu Imairi was held in Todakoen in Saitama prefecture.
The theme of the day was “Kagemaru of Iga.”
When we entered the venue, the slide of the puppet play of Kagemaru was already projected on the front screen, and many valuable Kagemaru goods and magazines, which Mr. Imairi had collected, were displayed, filling the wall sides. Mr. Imairi, in a T-shirt with Kagemaru printed on, was working busily.
Two dozen participators took part in this gathering, which has been held annually since “The 80th Anniversary of Mitsuteru Yokoyama’s Birth” in 2014.
Not to mention the Kanto neighboring areas, participants gathered together from the whole country, including Shizuoka, Nara, Fukuoka, Kanazawa and other regions.
The relationships between them and Mr. Imairi are various, with some through the fanzine OX or DOLPHIN, some through several homepages and twitter, and others through his workplace, Mandarake.
Famous publishers of republications such as “Apple-Box-Create”,”Fukkan-Dot-Com” participated too.
Many images of anime or movies related to Ninja including Kagemaru were projected there, with intermissions of presentations on the study of “the pattern of Doki”, an announcement of a project on Yokoyama’s historical pieces, and a distribution of a list on the total number of pages of Yokoyama’s manuscript for the first time.
Even in the self-introductions, someone talked about a topic of a republication in view, and another talked about a topic on Yokoyama which has not previously been discussed.
I sat there, merely listening to them.
Whatever can this gathering be?
Seeing this with my own eyes for the first time, I found it almost like an academic society rather than a get-together.
Whoever can Mr. Imairi, in the center of all this, be ?
I had nothing left to say and just gazed in wonderment.
According to Mr. Imairi, he began to read “Kagemaru of Iga ” from Part 6 when he was a 5th grader in elementary school. Without his knowing it, Kagemaru penetrated into his unconsciousness, and before long, all the world overflowed with Kagemaru.
Being conscious of the name “Mitsuteru Yokoyama” came afterwards. But knowing the name was just to fix his pivot, as if digging up a correct answer retrospectively.
His way of life possessed by Mitsuteru Yokoyama, and not by Osamu Tezuka nor Shotaro Ishinomori, started like that.
And on that rainy day in October, I saw the fertile expansion which the flow led to.
His parents were left behind in China after the war and when they could come back to Japan, several years had passed since the end of the war. But when Mr. Imairi was about one year old, his parents parted and he moved to Nagasaki, Sasebo with his mother. Mr. Imairi’s mother worked as a live-in helper on Sakitoshima, a coal-mining island, and Mr. Imairi lived with his grandfather, grandmother and uncle, his mother’s younger brother. The summer of 2nd grade of elementary school, the coal mine was closed and his family moved to Saitama prefecture where his mother’s married elder sister had moved to. Then, Mr. Imairi was placed in his aunt’s charge in Okegawa town.
His aunt had two boys, one of the same age and the other 2 years older. The three boys spent their days together like brothers.
“I got 10 yen a day as pocket money and bought two 5-yen sweets in a cheap candy shop every day. I repeated that over and over. I didn’t really pay attention to manga. I read it while waiting at the barbers at most.”
But when he was a 5th grader in elementary school, he left his aunt’s home and this time he was put in his uncle’s charge in Ageo.
Mr. Imairi says, “Well, it might have been already decided.”
But being separated from boys he grew up with like brothers, Mr. Imairi suddenly felt like an only child.
But there was another change, too.
“My allowance became 500 yen a month. I was handed it in the middle of the month and I had to do with 500 yen a month by myself. Compared with 10 yen a day, it increased by 200 yen each month. What will I do with these 200 yen? I thought I would read a magazine or something.”
He didn’t have a particular choice. He liked historical adventure dramas and thought that a magazine with such a work would be good. The magazine, “Weekly-Shonen-Sunday” was 50 yen in those days. It was 200 yen per month.
It was December, just the season when the New Year issues were piled up at bookstores.
“Kagemaru of Iga” part 6, ” The gold mine Hell Valley ” by Mitsuteru Yokoyama started on the January 1, 1965 issue of “Weekly Shonen Sunday”
“Kagemaru of Iga” is a Ninja manga by Mitsuteru Yokoyama which was published serially in ” Weekly Shonen Sunday” from 1961 through 1966.
The main character, Kagemaru, is a member of the Iga-Ninja group which serves theTokugawa shogunate government. Under the command of their leader, Hanzo HATTORI, he fights fierce battles with the Kohga-Ninja group etc.It is basically a battle between each group, and every ninja fights
with his individual skill. Both enemies and friends die one after another if they lose. The
characters’ movements and the development of the story are speedy and have a nice tempo.
In the early 1960s, the generation of weekly magazines started, through the boom of Akahon after the war, and the boom of rental-comics and monthly magazines in 1950’s.”Weekly Shonen Magazine” and “Weekly Shonen Sunday” launched in 1959. “Weekly Shonen King” started in 1961.
Yokoyama seemed as if he already freely controlled this new vessel of Weekly boy’s magazines with “Kagemaru of Iga.”
“Mr. Yokoyama kills off the characters in his manga carelessly,”
Mr. Imairi says joyfully.
“Certainly, it’s about them killing each other after all, but it was portrayed so lightly. Most of the characters in part1 and 2 were all killed off.”
“Kagemaru isn’t invincible. He is sometimes hurt as well. How would the results change, depending on the opponent? Who will survive?Of course even a child knows Kagemaru will survive, but…”
Sure, Kagemaru is clever, moves about nimbly and has high capability, but everyone can see that he is just a boy.Furthermore, a terrible Ninja “Jaki” who revives repeatedly even if he is killed again and again is on the side of the enemy.
“Previously Ninjas used to vanish with a makimono in his mouth. He would summon large snakes or transmogrify into a toad. However, I felt this pattern boring for some reason. I made a new type of Ninja by blowing up explosives for smoke, using speedy movements, some novel weapons, and the infusion of a sense of speed. Originating from this work (“Maken-rekkenn”) , this new style extended to “Kagemaru of Iga.””(“The Days of Maken-rekken”)
The storytelling style of Tatsukawa-bunko who created the Ninja boom such as “Sarutobi-Sasuke” and “Sanada-Juyushi” during the Taisho period usually vanished like smoke with a rumble.
Futaro Yamada, a distinguished novelist, released the “Ninpou-cho” series (Notes on the spycraft arts) beginning with the “Kohga-Ninpou-cho” (1958).
He wrote a battle of “Ninpou” as a trial of the individual special ability and brought about the Ninja boom in the 1950’s – 60’s.
Yamada’s Ninpou-cho is said to be the origin of a genre called “Battle of ability” which is often used in many boy’s manga at present.
But it was Mitsuteru Yokoyama that applied it to boy’s manga by mixing the new expressions such as “blowing up explosives for smoke, and speedy movements, some novel weapons, and the infusion of a sense of speed”.
A very exciting Ninja battle manga・・・Kagemaru’s popularity grew with accelerating speed every time.”Kagemaru of Iga” came to be one of the representative works of early “Weekly Shonen Sunday”.
Mr. Imairi began to read from Part 6 of “Kagemaru of Iga” (The Gold Mine ) in the January 1, 1965 issue of Weekly Shonen Sunday.
Fortunately, an abridged summary was featured on the special issue “Bessatsu Sunday.”It was 130 yen and he couldn’t buy it. He borrowed it at a rental bookstore and read it.And then, he became literally “possessed” by Kagemaru.
“Kagemaru came inside me with a roar.Kagemaru, who I had never seen before, came inside me with a roar.”
At the same time, various Kagemaru began to move before his very eyes. Kagemaru appeared in his dreams too.
“Other people also say this, but Mr. Yokoyama’s drawings move. They move quickly like an animated cartoon.”
Kagemaru jumps over the wall, climbs up onto a roof, jumps from tree to a tree, and an innumerable amount of leaves dance behind him.
Mr. Imairi lived with Kagemaru dreamily.
Later on, Mr. Imairi found a drawing of Kagemaru that he drew in a notebook in his childhood and was surprised.
Although he begun to read from part 6, he had drawn some pictures of part 4 that he hadn’t read.
It was not the copy of the summary version on Bessatsu, because there were misunderstandings from not knowing the context.
There was an enemy who tried to deceive others as disguising as an Iga-Ninja. And there was an Iga-ninja who was badly burnt and had an ugly face. Mr. Imairi, in his childhood, did not know the flow of the story and thought the ninja with the ugly face to be the enemy. He wrote in his notebook that this one was the enemy.And he drew the Iga-Ninja imposter enemy as a friend.
Mr. Imairi guesses that he probably had seen it in a barbershop when he was in his aunt’s house in Okegawa.
He read the magazine without knowing the context and imitated the pictures in his notebook. He probably felt the work was wonderful.
Well, there was another interesting occasion.
He remembered watching a puppet play of Kagemaru on TV in his childhood.He thought that he watched it because he liked Kagemaru, but when he checked, he found that the broadcast started in the times he was in Okegawa when he didn’t buy Shonen-Sunday yet.The memory of Part1 is clear, but he doesn’t remember Part 2 very much. He moved to his uncle’s house and his environment changed, so he didn’t watch the latter part.
“I already had ties to Kagemaru.”
Mr. Imairi thought.
“Perhaps I have been loving Kagemaru all the time without knowing it.”
“Maybe I like this,” or “I may have liked this.”
Mr. Imairi sometimes uses such an expression.
Mr. Imairi gradually became conscious of the name “Mitsuteru Yokoyama”.
When he became a junior high school student, his pocket money was increased to 1,000 yen and he can afford to buy monthly magazines and other things.While he was reading various manga, he had several experiences where he would find a certain work interesting to find out later that it was by Mitsuteru Yokoyama.
He began to think that he might like this manga artist called Mitsuteru Yokoyama.
When he was 17 years old, Mr. Imairi left his uncle’s house in Ageo.
There was a considerable amount of “Weekly Shonen Sunday” which he had been buying since 5th grade.
He could bring with him paperback pocket edition comics, but couldn’t take the Weekly magazines.
“I did ask not to throw them away just in case…”
But they were thrown away easily.
“It’s understandable. Several years’ worth of the magazines was quite space-taking. A baby was to be born in my uncle’s family, which was one of the causes for me to leave his place. In those days people would merely consider such magazines as a waste of space, as garbage.”
Many collectors become absorbed in collecting after their treasured things are thrown away by parents. This was also the case with Mr. Imairi: there is no doubt that this loss drove him to be a collector later.But anger and grudge for his property being thrown away do not come out of his mouth.
The right of possession, the right to the space to store possessions. These were probably not a self-evident thing for Mr. Imairi at the time.
Mr. Imairi didn’t know where people could buy secondhand comics either. He had some comics of paperbacks size still, but did not know where he should go if he wanted to regain the lost comics
There was only one thing that was certain.
It was that after this he would engage in work and would get a salary for himself.
Mr. Imairi made an unforgettable big purchase when he went to a manga-exhibition like gathering in Nagoya with his relatives at 19 or 20 years old.
Mr. Imairi bought Yokoyama’s “Yakoutou-majin” (:The Demon of Yakouto Island) for 8000 yen.
Although it was a time of continuous economic growth, the starting salary of a new employee graduated from university was around 30000 yen. His relatives expressed their surprise in raised voices.
In those days, Japan was experiencing great turmoil with cases of campus dispute symbolized by the “Yasuda Auditorium incident” and other incidents like the “Asama Sanso incident” etc.
In the middle of the conflict over the Japan-US Security Treaty and the campus riots, the then popular manga-artists made works concerning rebelling against power and people left by the rapid economic growth.
It was said that many students held “Weekly Shonen magazine” and read it inside the barricades.
Even works in the same Ninja manga genre like “Ninja Bugeicho” and “Kamui-den” by Sanpei Shirato became the banner of dissident students and was called the “Bible of the National-Federation of Students’ Self-Government Associations.”
Elements such as anti-Establishment thought, grudges, and emotions are not seen in Yokoyama’s manga.
Kagemaru and his groups serve the Tokugawa shogunate government and make desperate efforts to maintain the system. They are often abused, called “the dog of the Shogunate!”
Kagemaru does not have any individual trouble. Doubt of identity is not expressed.
Yokoyama’s world had the different expansion.
For example, in 1970, when the Yodo skyjackers flew away saying “we are Tomorrow’s Joe”, Mr. Imairi was 17 years old and was troubled with his magazines at his uncle’s house in Ageo being discarded.
It was a departure which is dissimilar to one in the center stage of history at that time.
Mr. Imairi often went to secondhand-manga shops such as Damasha, Yutoriya（the predecessor of Mandarake), Nakanoshoten, relying upon a guidebook called “Manga-no-Techo”(:Pocketbook of manga).
In his late twenties, a big incidence which changed his fate occurred via this “Manga-no-techo”.
That was his encounter with Mr. Kenichi Eguchi and Mr. Yoshinobu Horii, fans of Mitsuteru Yokoyama.
Mr. Imairi had them show their search list, and he was astonished at the thoroughness of it.
A lot of works Mr. Imairi had not known of had appeared in their lists. They had made a list of works that even appeared only in magazines for children in a particular school grade. Mr. Imairi thought them superb and gained great enlightenment.
Mr. Imairi says, “These two people turned me into an enthusiast”.
Although he had already been an enthusiast from others’ eyes, he himself felt there were two turning points in his becoming an enthusiast.
One was this encounter with two people, and the other encounter was something that happened a little later.
One day, Mr. Imairi found a great thing at Damasha.It was “Jigoku no Inu”(:The Hellhound) by Mitsuteru Yokoyama.
Mr. Imairi hesitated.
“Why I hesitated was that it was priced at 30000 yen”
Though he had bought many articles, the price of 30000 yen was beyond his imagination.Frankly speaking, the contents in itself were not appealing to him in particular. It was originally titled “The Dog Shining at Night” which was released as a supplement of the magazine “Shonen-club” in 1957. “Jigoku no Inu” was merely this work retitled and published as a single volume for rental.
The important factor is that it was in B6 size.Mr. Imairi had only Yokoyama’s rental book in A5 size till then.The B6 size was of higher rank as an initial work.
Mr. Imairi wrestled with his thoughts.
“Being shown it, I couldn’t decide whether I would buy or not immediately.
I went out of the shop and entered again, and I repeated that several times. A lot of thoughts went through my mind…etc. etc.”
If it was 200000yen, he would have given it up. But the price of 30000 yen was not impossible though it was expensive.
He hesitated and hesitated, but finally, he bought it.
“This opportunity made me be an enthusiast. I hesitated very much but stepped in one step. I was really conflicted but decided to put my foot in.”
Being charmed with the initial format, he spent a large sum of money after much hesitation. He stepped into the difference in size with all his might.
“I think that my face broke into a smile. If people looked at my face then, what would they have thought of me?”
“I couldn’t keep a straight face. I was so happy, and I couldn’t help but smile broadly. Finally, I had gained it. I was grinning, and I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.”
Mr. Imairi doesn’t remember the day when he was attracted by Kagemaru for the first time.
But he clearly remembers the day when he became an enthusiast. After he hesitated and hesitated, he spent a large sum of money and set foot into that world. Besides, he didn’t repent after buying it in the least.
Thus, Mr. Imairi lost restraint in the purchase of “Hellhound” and has since continued buying works of Yokoyama earnestly after that.
Mr. Imairi says,
“Once I surpass the big-mark of 30000 yen, even if the next price is 50000 yen or 60000 yen, it makes no big difference anymore.”
Furthermore, he says.
“I have already bought it. Then, even if it is 60000yen, or even if it is 80000 yen, it’s hardly become worth consideration. My senses have become paralyzed.”
His statement jumps from “Even if it is 50000yen, 60000yen” to suddenly “60000yen, 80000yen”…
I guess he has been completely paralyzed.
He bought back the “Weekly Shonen Sunday” which he lost at 17 years old at a secondhand book fair of a department store when he found a set of 2 years’ worth starting from just before the magazine when Kagemaru started.
After he entered the company Mandarake after being a regular customer of Yutoriya, his collection gradually became complete. People came to Mandarake to sell toys and Mr. Imairi got interested in toys too and has been going to buy at a toyshop in Shimokitazawa.
He also began collecting several magazine freebie miniature books and other goods steadily.
600000 yen for an original picture of the animation is apparently the maximum amount that Mr. Imairi paid for one article.
In 1986, Mr. Imairi started up the Yokoyama Mitsuteru club with Mr. Eguchi and Mr. Horii and began publishing the fanzine “OX”.
Mr. Eguchi’s list was published as an extra-edition commentary titled “The Collection of Mitsuteru Yokoyama Early Works” in collaboration with Mr. Takeo Kawasaki in 1981.
Mr. Horii’s list came to fruition in “The World of Mitsuteru Yokoyama” in 1992, and the following year, Mr. Yasuhiko Yamamoto (from the comics document center) published “The Tracks of Mitsuteru Yokoyama (Works List)” based on Mr. Horii’s list and adding pictures and new materials.
After then, “Bessatsu Taiyo Yokoyama Mitsuteru Manga Taizen” which colorized the contents followed.
Most of the pictures were offered by Mr. Imairi.
Through the series of actions from putting together the seaching lists, they were building the foundation to grasp the whole world of Yokoyama.
In addition to that, there was the activity called “Mitsuteru Yokoyama Fan Club” in the Kansai region and they published the fanzine “DOLPHIN”.
Mr. Imairi participated in it from “DOLPHIN” no.3.
In 1982, when he released “DOLPHIN/Kagemaru feature issue” as the project originator, he met Mitsuteru Yokoyama for an interview for the first time.
After that, Mr. Imairi occasionally visited the Yokoyama’s house. In that way he began to play a role in combining fans’ activity and the author Mitsuteru Yokoyama together.
“Apple Box Create” by Mr.Chiko Takahashi was known for its plentiful reproduction specializing in 1950’s – 60’s comics, and is a doyen of this field. The sheer number of Yokoyama’s work reproduced here is remarkable.
“Mitsuteru Yokoyama Meisakushu” (Mitsuteru Yokoyama Collection of the Masterpieces), 51volumes with 5 surplus volumes.
Mr. Kunisawa of Mandarake interviewed Mr. Imairi, and said as follows about it.
“It is widely known that Mitsuteru Yokoyama firmly refused the publication of his complete works. In Japanese comics publication history, it’s rare that someone serialized and published works at his own expense to complement the commercial publications of an author as great as Yokoyama.” (Pamphlet of The Material Exhibition 2017.)
It was Mr. Imairi that connected this “Apple Box Create” with Mitsuteru Yokoyama.
I will quote Mr. Imairi’s remark in the former interview.
“Today they often publish works which have not been published as a single volume before. But it seemed that Mr. Yokoyama didn’t think of publishing such a work in the day and age he wrote them.
Republication was accepted by Mr. Yokoyama on condition that there are no original manuscripts of the works. In addition, he warned me that the reproductions of “○○ and X X and □□ are out of the question” from the beginning.”
“At that time, the cost for printing and editing was much more expensive than it is in the present. But “Mitsuteru Yokoyama Meisakushu” has become the central pillar of the republication project and must have become the driving force for Apple Box Create to embark on the reproduction of various writers’ comics, I think.”
This series includes several works that Hikari production (Mitsuteru Yokoyama production) doesn’t possess. So it is acclaimed as an undertaking that fills in blanks of Yokoyama’s work history, I hear.
It is difficult to get the full view of a great creator who was prolific for a long time.
Reproduction is the enterprise which reveals the works, and at the same time which improves fundamental materials, and creates the ideal environment ready for the coming research of Yokoyama.
Mr. Imairi has provided a manuscript for reproduction from his collection and has been mediating between the manga artist and republisher.
What work do you mention first in the works of Mitsuteru Yokoyama?
Some mention “Tetsujin28”, others pick “Sangoku-shi”, and yet others choose “BabilⅡ”, and there would be people who entered Yokoyama’s world from “Magical Girl Sally”.
Huge Robots, battles, a magic girl, SF, a historical comic.
What Yokoyama created was often not just a work but a genre itself. Yokoyama left the basic principle of entertainment that we are naturally blessed with at the present.
I heard that after Yokoyama’s death, there was a memo which read “if anything, ask Mr. Imairi” in his study.
Mr. Imairi kept joining Hikari production and fan activities together. He continued supporting the mountain range-like numerous republications of .
He also supported the reproduction of and made the publication event of Mitsuteru Yokoyama’s 80th Birthday Anniversary a success.
Twitter user 4eknight11 named the design of a kimono which a main character wears in “Doki in the Darkness” by Mitsuteru Yokoyama the , and announced research on it on Twitter.
Mr. Imairi, who tweets about Ninja in the account “Imamaru of Iga”, sent materials on the Doki-pattern to 4eknight11 and livened up the activity.
In the gathering in Toda park, 4eknight11 presented about < Doki-pattern>, which shows us that the expression of manga has come to a new stage as reference material.
Mitsuteru Yokoyama was a giant who produced a lot of hit works, but his position was not as showy as Tezuka or Ishinomori.
He was a manga artist who would focus intently on his current manuscript without looking back at the past and produced so many works that it would have been difficult to grasp the full picture, I suppose.
In addition to such difficulty, fan activity on publication often is a delicate subject and restrictive. As for the relationship of fans and the writer, it’s rare to go as ideally as the case of Mitsuteru Yokoyama.
Among the fans of Mitsuteru Yokoyama, there were Mr. Eguchi and Mr. Horii who made high-quality lists.
There were republishers with high aims, including Mr. Takahashi of Apple Box Create.
There were people who have high ability for investigating and the willpower to do something.
There was one who was small and gentle, and was surprised at his friends’ lists, and bought a rental book at 30000yen feeling as if he had leaped off a building and actually felt himself becoming an enthusiast.
His start was a fumbling attempt, but his desire for collecting was firm. He continued buying determinedly, and he became the field’s leading collector.He was glad of things he came to own but he didn’t worry himself about matters beyond his control, and admitted the talent of other people. In the end, he became the central figure to tell the world about Yokoyama.
“Everyone becomes a fan of him,”
The person who introduced me to Mr. Imairi said so.
It is rare for a first-class collector possessed by collecting to continue standing among people with a soft personality to send each fan’s activity into the world.
Yokoyama fans’ activities show what enthusiasts can do for the next era, and Mr. Imairi’s way of life depicts a process where collecting has come close to being wonderfully bright and selfless.