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Mangaka Profile (8): Tokuo Yokota

  • Name: Tokuo Yokota
  • In Japanese: よこたとくお
  • Date of birth: October 30th, 1936
  • Hometown: Fukushima Prefecture.
  • Debut: 1955 (19 years old), with Yamabiko Senshi (Warrior of the Echo).
  • Main works: Margaret-chan; Gakken educational manga series.

Facts:

  • Although he signs his works with his name written in hiragana script, よこたとくお, it is actually written 横田徳男.
  • As many mangaka of his generation, he was an avid reader of Manga Shōnen magazine. The Fujiko Fujio duo, Shōtarō Ishinomori, Fujio Akatsuka, Hiroo Terada, Kunio Nagatani, Jirō Tsunoda and Hideko Mizuno, among others, were greatly impressed by this magazine that featured works of Osamu Tezuka, and would send their works to the reader’s corner.
  • Ishinomori sent a letter to the reader’s corner of Manga Shōnen proposing the creation of a “manga studies group” that would be called Higashi Nihon Manga Kenkyūkai (East Japan Association of Manga Studies). Yokota, Akatsuka and Nagatani, among other young manga artists, send their works to Ishinomori, who bundled up a fanzine called Bokujū Itteki (One Ink Drop). This is how these artists got to know each other. Only one copy of each issue of Bokujū Itteki existed. It was a simple binding of all the manuscripts and they would send the copy to each other in turns, by mail.
  • Yokota and Akatsuka decided to move to Tokyo to pursue their dreams and they shared a little apartment while they worked in factories during the day and created their manga during the night.
  • Yokota debuted in 1955 in the kashihon industry and suggested Akatsuka to do the same.
  • Ishinomori eventually moved to Tokyo and stayed at Yokota and Akatsuka’s place for some weeks before moving to the Tokiwa-sō apartments.
  • Akatsuka, and later Yokota, eventually moved to Tokiwa-sō as well. Yokota lived in the “manga apartments” for 3 years, from 1957 to 1960.
  • During his first years as a mangaka, Yokota specialized on shōjo stories thanks to his roundish, cute drawing style. His most famous fiction work is マーガレットちゃん (Margaret-chan), featuring the adventure of Margaret magazine’s girl mascot.
  • In the mid 60s, he was approached by Gakken to produce a series of educational manga. Since then, he has produced countless works on many aspects of knowledge: proverbs, electricity, natural phenomena, biographies… He is one of the most prominent educational manga authors of Japan.
  • Samples of his work can be read online for free. For instance, “moving manga” Kirin Beer Daigaku Jōzō Gakubu (Kirin Beer University, Faculty of Brewing) can be sampled in Kirin Beer’s site: index / chapter 1.

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