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Seven Rules for Happiness: our anime take on Shigeru Mizuki’s wisdom

© MIZUKI Productions

Even after surviving World War II, beloved manga artist Shigeru Mizuki always kept his verve in both life and creativity. As you might expect, such a life left a wise imprint, but when he passed away last year at the age of 93, he left us with the lingering enchantment of the yokai from his seminal GeGeGe no Kitaro, an impression that even over five decades later is kept alive in myriad manga and anime.

We may sometimes think we could never live a life so fulfilling, joyful and meaningful, but Mizuki also passed on the knowledge to set off on the right track. He had seven rules for happiness, which first appeared in his book Mr. Mizuki’s Happiness Theory, and we wanted to honour them for ourselves as a tribute to his wisdom. Here’s Shigeru Mizuki’s Seven Rules for Happiness (translations via Zack Davisson), and what they mean to us through the anime that make us happy.

Number 1

‘Don’t try to win – Success is not the measure of life. Just do what you enjoy. Be happy.’

Death Note

Light Yagami aimed for glory. L, on the other hand, did not. It never seemed like he was looking to get one over on the Death Note killer, or indeed fretting too much over who the hell they could be. Instead, he took it day by day simply doing what he loved, whether cracking a top-secret case or eating a platter of cakes. Even though his gently shaded free and easy nature meant he developed an intense frenmity with his twisted compatriot, he worked through this most intricate of obstacles to give his team the necessary knowledge to trap and apprehend Light. Pushing for that success wasn’t part of the plan. It all came from having faith in his ability, and solving problems one at a time. And we all know where Light’s delusions of grandeur landed him in the end.

Number 2

‘Follow your curiosity – Do what you feel drawn towards, almost like a compulsion. What you would do without money or reward.’

The Comic Artist and His Assistants


Yuki Aito certainly has a compulsion. He’s fanatical about panties, and is forever feeding it into his other passion; creating manga. His obsession more often than not lands him in embarrassing or uncomfortable situations, but he seems to have a limitless capacity for shaking them off to keep doing what he loves, and whether he intends to or not, it’s this fervour for the next project he passes on to his assistants. He teaches Sahoto Ashisu to let loose her own creative, passionate heart to become a published mangaka herself, and even his brusque editor can feel relaxed around him. Maybe not in the way he’d imagine, he gives joy to others through the true self he expresses unashamed in his art, and they give it right back in love and encouragement.

2 Comments on Seven Rules for Happiness: our anime take on Shigeru Mizuki’s wisdom

  1. No, no, no. It’s “Be Lazy”, not “Don’t Get Lazy”. Everyone seems to get this wrong ever since Kotaku posted it wrong on their page. But that’s a fundamental difference. Mizuki was all for relaxing, and though he drew and wrote a great amount of manga, he did this in a much longer period of time than many of his colleagues. He also slept a lot.

    Like

    • Dominic Cuthbert // June 8, 2016 at 8:36 pm // Reply

      Thanks for pointing this out, that’ll teach us not to take Kotaku at face value. We’re overhauling this piece soon and tying in one of our favourite new anime under the “be lazy” heading. Thanks again ^^

      Liked by 1 person

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