There are hundreds of Holocaust organizations in the United States and perhaps thousands worldwide. Through my job, I stay in contact with many. Still, I was surprised to see a mailing at work for the Holocaust Education Center, Japan (HEC), headquartered in Fukuyama-city. I was even more surprised to read one of their newsletter stories, revolving around an Anne Frank manga:
HEC has presented 1,200 copies of the comic book, “Anne Frank” to schools in the three prefectures of Miyagi, Iwate, and Fukushima of the [2011 earthquake] area…Anne Frank wrote in her diary about her desire towards peace, and wishes for a long life, and also the wish for working for the mankind. HEC hopes that children in those areas will receive hope and courage through this book.
A very small illustration was included, which I unfortunately couldn’t find in better quality online. From what I gather, the manga was originally published by Shueisha in the late 90s, but an updated version was released in 2011 with more contemporary images than the original (below).
However, this version is not the most prevalent comic retelling of Frank’s life in Japan – that moniker might go to the Anne Frank volume of the Edu-Manga series, which each feature Osamu Tezuka’s Astro Boy character on their covers and throughout the stories (yes, really). Released stateside by Digital Manga Publishing, this version not only portrays events from the diary, but also from her brief time at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp before her death. Note the image below, which shows Astro Boy and his sister as part of the proceedings of the story:
Other versions of the diary abound. Another manga also portrays her time in the camp and ends with real pictures of Frank and her family. Two anime films, both titled Anne no Nikki, have also been released.
While anime and manga adaptations of The Diary of a Young Girl may seem strange and even ghoulish, there’s no doubt that her story is significant and that even today, it continues to connect with adolescents. In a country where many deny historical accounts of Japan’s role in atrocities, perhaps these works are all the more important in delivering a a vital message – that the ability to do great evil lies with the human heart, and that even in the face of this evil and the dangers that come with it, we should stand up and do what’s right.